Obtaining a mortgage can be intimidating and confusing. Similar to the buyer and seller guides, I’ve outlined the mortgage process for you in 4 easy steps!
Step 1: Mortgage Application
Before an application gets filled out, it’s important to first asses yourself financially. Figure out how much money you have and how much you need to borrow. It’s always critical to sort out how much you can afford so that when you apply for a mortgage you will be able to financially sustain yourself. A mortgage associate will then take an application by phone, in person, or online. Once it has been received, the mortgage application process will begin by verifying the information you have provided.
Step 2: Choose the Right Mortgage Program
Like all homes, mortgages also come in all shapes and sizes. You have to pick which loan is more aligned with your financial situation and goals. There are five basic types of U.S. home financing loans.
1) Fixed Rate Mortgage
A Fixed Rate mortgage usually has terms that can last from 1 year to 10 years. As the name suggests, the interest rate and monthly payments will remain the same for the specified term.
This type of loan should appeal to you if you:
- Plan to live in the home for more than 5 years
- Like the stability of a fixed interest payment
- Think your income and spending will stay the same
- Don’t like the risk of having a higher monthly payment
2) Adjustable Rate Mortgage
Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) lasts for 3-5 years. But during these terms, the interest rate on the loan can go up or down which means monthly payments can increase or decrease.
This type of loan should appeal to you if you:
- Plan to say in your home for less than 5 years
- Don’t mind having your monthly payment increase or decrease
- Are comfortable with risk of possible payment increases in the future
- Think your income will probably increase in the future
3) FHA Loan
While typical home loans require a down payment of 20% of the purchase price of your home, with a Federal Housing Administration, or FHA loan, you can put down as little as 3.5%. That's because Federal Housing Administration loans are government-backed. This loan is right for:
- Home buyers with meager savings for a down payment
- Those who choose to purchase a home under $417,000
- Like the stability of a fixed mortgage rate, with either 15- or 30 year terms
- Don’t mind paying mortgage insurance—either upfront or over the life of the loan—which hovers at around 1% of the cost of your loan amount.
4) VA Loans
If you've served in the United States military, a Veterans Affairs or VA loan can be an excellent alternative to a conventional loan. If you qualify for a VA loan, you can score a sweet home with no down payment and no mortgage insurance requirements.
Right for: VA loans are for veterans who've served 90 days consecutively during wartime, 180 during peacetime, or six years in the reserves. Because the home loans are government-backed, the VA has strict requirements on the type of home buyers can purchase with a VA loan: It must be your primary residence, and it must meet “minimum property requirements" (that is, no fixer-uppers allowed).
5) USDA Loans
Another government-sponsored home loan is the USDA Rural Development loan, which is designed for families in rural areas. The government finances 100% of the home price for USDA-eligible homes—in other words, no down payment necessary—and offers discounted mortgage interest rates to boot.
Right for: Borrowers in rural areas who are struggling financially can access USDA-eligible home loans. These home loans are designed to put homeownership within their grasp, with affordable mortgage payments. The catch? Your debt load cannot exceed your income by more than 41%, and, as with the FHA, you will be required to purchase mortgage insurance.
Step 3: Mortgage Submission and Approval
Once you select the appropriate mortgage program, you will submit this information to your mortgage associate along with any other required documentation. You will then wait for the mortgage approval from the mortgage associate either through email or fax. After the approval, the associate will also review your commitment to the mortgage. Any additional documents that are required by the lender should be sent to the associate no later than 10 days after the approval.
Step 4: Lawyer
The associate will send the mortgage instructions to your lawyer to review and sign the documents. First you will review all the terms and conditions prior to signing to make sure the interest rate and loan terms are what were promised. Double check to see that the names and address are correctly spelled on the documents. Signing takes place in front of a notary public or lawyer. There will be several fees with obtaining a mortgage and transferring property ownership which will be paid at closing. Bring a bank draft check for the down payment and closing costs if required. Personal cheques are not accepted. You will also need to show homeowners insurance policy and other requirements such as flood or fire insurance and proof of payment.
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