Do I Qualify?
Most people know about the many benefits and rewards of becoming a homeowner. What most don’t know is what it takes to qualify to buy a house.
Now more than ever, there is a lot of confusion about getting qualified for a mortgage – and a lot of misinformation as well. It’s common to hear people say, “I heard banks aren’t lending money right now,” or, “I heard you need to have 20 percent down to get a mortgage these days.”
So today, I’m dispelling the myths and offering the basic information you need to know about qualifying for a mortgage. This information is important whether you are a first-time home buyer or current homeowner who hasn’t gotten a home loan in several years.
While mortgage underwriters look at a lot of different information to determine whether you’ll qualify for a mortgage, ultimately, it comes down to four things: credit, equity, income and assets.
Your credit is one of the most important things that will be considered when determining if you qualify for a home loan. It’s also one of the things that most people don’t know a lot about. Your credit history is how a lender will judge the likelihood that you’ll pay them back the money they lend you. To do this, a lender will look at the length of your credit history, how reliably you’ve paid on your loan accounts and if you’re maxed out on credit cards or loans. These are also the factors that determine your credit rating or credit score. Your credit score will be used to qualify you for a mortgage and will often determine the interest rate you will be offered.
Credit scores used for a mortgage range between 350 (low) and 850 (high). For a FHA loan you need a minimum 580 credit score.
In addition to your credit score, lenders will look at items on your credit report. They’ll want to see that you’ve had accounts open for at least a year and that you don’t have any large outstanding collections or judgments against you. If you have collections or judgments on your credit report, you will usually have to take care of those first before you can get financing (the one exception to this is usually medical bills). The other thing that won’t show up on your credit report, but is verified, is your rental history. Lenders want to see if you’ve had any late rent or mortgage payments in the past 12 months.
Equity / Down Payment
Buying a Home
The minimum required down payment when buying a primary home is typically 3.5 percent of the sales price, which will allow you to get an FHA loan – a great option for first-time home buyers or anyone who can’t come up with a huge down payment. FHA loans also don’t penalize you with a higher interest rate if you have less-than-perfect credit.
Ask me about 0% down programs!
Another option is a conventional mortgage. Conventional loans typically require 5 percent to 10 percent down depending on the lender.
When buying a home, keep in mind that you will not only need to have funds for the down payment, but you will also need additional cash for various settlement fees. These can range quite a bit depending on the type of the loan and the area where you are buying; talk to a trusted lender to learn more. The good news is that home loan programs allow you get a credit from the home seller to help pay for these settlement fees, as well as additional costs, like your first year’s taxes and insurance.
Income vs. Debts
Another factor looked at by lenders is your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This is simply your fixed expenses with the new mortgage compared to your gross monthly income (income before taxes are taken out). Lenders typically want to see someone spending less than 50 percent of their gross monthly income on these fixed expenses, which include your mortgage payment, property taxes, association dues, home owners insurance, car loans, student loans, credit cards and any other fixed payments that would show up on your credit report. Variable expenses like utilities, phone and cable are not included in your DTI.
Get Started With Your Mortgage Process
So You Want To Buy A House. Now What? Contact me directly at (562) 444-1921 or fill out the form below.