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Posted by Shellye Blake REALTOR® on 3/18/2021

Many first-time home buyers are worried about all of the documents and information they’ll have to gather when applying for a mortgage. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably dreading having to dig through the five places that these documents might be. Fortunately, the process is now somewhat streamlined thanks to lenders being able to collect most of your information digitally.

In today’s article, we’ll talk about the documents you’ll need to collect when you apply for a home loan so that you feel prepared and confident reaching out to lenders.

Documents needed to pre-qualify

Before going into applying for a mortgage, let’s talk about pre-qualification. There are three types, or in some cases steps, of approval with most mortgage lenders: pre-qualification, pre-approval, and approval.

Pre-qualification is one of the earliest and simplest steps to getting pre-approved. It gives you a snapshot of the types and amount of loans you can receive. Pre-qualification typically doesn’t include a detailed credit analysis, nor do you need to provide many specific details or documents.

Typically, you’ll fill out a questionnaire describing your debts, income, and assets, and they will give you an estimate of the loan you might qualify for. Might is the key word here. Your pre-qualification amount is not guaranteed as you haven’t yet provided official proof of your information.

Documents needed for pre-approval

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage entails significantly more work on the part of you and your lender than pre-qualification. First, the lender will run a credit analysis. You won’t need to provide them with any information for this step, as they’ll be able to automatically receive the report from the major credit reporting bureaus. However, it’s a good idea to check your report before applying to make sure there aren’t any errors that could damage your credit.

Now is where the legwork comes in.

You’ll need to gather the following documents to get officially pre-approved or approved for a mortgage:

  • W-2 forms from the previous two years. If you are self-employed, you’ll still need to provide income verification, usually as a Form 1040, or “Individual income tax return.”

  • Two forms of identification. A driver’s license, passport, and social security card are three commonly accepted forms of identification.

  • Pay stubs or detailed income information for the past two or three months. This ensures lenders that you are currently financially stable.

  • Federal and State income tax returns from the past two years. If you file your taxes online, you can often download a PDF version that includes your W-2 or 1040 forms, making the process of submitting tax and income verification much easier.

  • Personal contact information. Name, address, phone number, email address, and any former addresses which you’ve lived in the past two years.

  • Bank statements from the previous two months. Also, if you have any assets, such as a 401K, stocks, or mutual fund,  you’ll be asked to include those as well.

  • A complete list of your debts. Though these will likely be on your credit report, lenders want to ensure they have the full picture when it comes to how much you owe other creditors and lenders.





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Posted by Shellye Blake REALTOR® on 9/24/2020

Photo by ESB Professional via Shutterstock

If the thought of getting a mortgage and being in that much debt is stopping you from buying a home, plan to pay it off. Here’s how you can do it in just five to 10 years.

  • Live well below your means. If you can keep your mortgage payment to below twenty percent of your take-home pay, you’re on your way. That means that instead of buying a larger house in an upscale community, buy the nicest one you can in the neighborhood you can afford. When you do this, you’ll not only save on the payment but your energy and maintenance costs will be lower, as well.
  • Take a 15-year mortgage. Instead of the typical 30-year loan, opt for the 15-year choice. Your payments will be slightly higher, but they won’t be double. Use an online mortgage calculator to see the difference in the payment. You’ll be surprised at how much more affordable cutting the loan length in half can be.
  • Use an early mortgage pay-off calculator. Try plugging in different payment amounts to see how quickly you can pay it off. Adding as little as $100 extra each month can massively reduce the years to completion.
  • This next idea is easy if you get paid weekly or bi-weekly. Instead of making your mortgage payment once a month, pay half of it every two weeks. Using this trick allows you to make an entire extra payment each year, cutting months and years off your mortgage. If you do it to match your bi-weekly payments, you won’t even notice the additional payment out of your household budget.

Your Agent Can Help

When you’re looking for just the right house to put your plan into action, your knowledgeable real estate agent can find you the perfect one. Let them know what you’re trying to accomplish so that they match you to the right house at the right time.




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Posted by Shellye Blake REALTOR® on 9/10/2020

Obtaining a mortgage can be overwhelming, particularly for a first-time homebuyer. Lucky for you, we're here to help you streamline the process of analyzing various mortgage options and choosing one that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help first-time homebuyers secure the ideal mortgage.

1. Assess All of the Mortgage Options at Your Disposal

Both fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages are available, and homebuyers who understand the pros and cons of these mortgage options may be better equipped than others to make the right mortgage decision.

A fixed-rate mortgage ensures a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. For example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage enables a homebuyer to budget for monthly home payments over the course of three decades. And in many instances, a homebuyer may be able to pay off a fixed-rate mortgage early without penalty.

On the other hand, an adjustable-rate mortgage may start out with a lower monthly payment that escalates over the course of a few years. An adjustable-rate mortgage, for instance, may allow a homebuyer to acquire a home that surpasses his or her initial budget thanks to a lower initial monthly payment. However, after the first few years, the monthly mortgage payment may increase, and a homebuyer will need to plan accordingly.

Assess your mortgage options closely – you'll be glad you did. By doing so, you can boost your chances of selecting a mortgage that works well based on your current and future financial needs.

2. Evaluate Your Credit Score

Believe it or not, a first-time homebuyer's credit score may impact his or her ability to get the right mortgage. Fortunately, a first-time homebuyer can analyze his or her credit score without delay.

You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, with your credit report in hand, you can better understand how potential lenders may view your mortgage application.

Of course, if you receive a copy of your credit report and find glaring errors, be sure to let the credit bureau know immediately. This will enable you to get any mistakes corrected and ensure these problems won't slow you down as you pursue your dream residence.

3. Consult with Potential Lenders

Although getting a mortgage may seem like an uphill climb at first, consulting with potential lenders may prove to be exceedingly valuable, especially for a first-time homebuyer.

Banks and credit unions employ friendly, knowledgeable staff who are happy to educate you about assorted mortgage options. These lenders can teach you about the ins and outs of various mortgage options at your convenience.

Lastly, if you need extra help in your search for the perfect mortgage, real estate agents may be able to offer assistance. These housing market professionals can provide honest, unbiased recommendations about lenders in your area so you can move one step closer to securing your ideal mortgage.

Ready to get a mortgage for the first time? Use these tips, and you can accelerate the process of obtaining a mortgage that suits you perfectly.




Tags: Buying a home   Mortgage  
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Posted by Shellye Blake REALTOR® on 4/23/2020

Photo by Nattanan Kanchanaprat via Pixabay

If you’re in the market to purchase a home, it can be a confusing process. Interest rates, types of loans and what may apply to you can all sound like a foreign language. It’s always best to have some background knowledge before going to see a mortgage broker to make sure you’re on the same page. Although there are many components to the process, one of the main elements that directly affects you is the type of loan you qualify for. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Land Purchase

You may want to build a home on a specific piece of land. Most banks offer up to 85% of the price of the land for residential and investment purposes.

  • Home Purchase

These loans finance the purchase of a new residential property or home from previous owners. There are many categories: fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, conventional, jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA and bridge. Each one has elements that mortgage brokers use to determine whether you would be a good candidate for that type of loan.

  • Home Construction

If you’re looking to construct your home from the ground up, this is the type of loan you will be considered for. The loan and application process is a little different from a standard home purchase loan. If you want the loan to be included as a part of the total price of the house, the land should have been bought within a year.

  • Home Expansion/Extension

Even if you’re purchasing a home, you may decide you need to expand it. These types of loans work differently if you are purchasing the home, so working with a mortgage broker will provide more insight.

These four loan options may directly impact your decision and ability to purchase. When considering the type of loan you are seeking, you should also think about where you want to live and how long you plan to stay there. Each specific type of mortgage loan may require different amounts for a down payment, have different standards, require mortgage insurance and interest.

The type of mortgage loan and interest rate will also affect your monthly payment. A mortgage broker should be able to help choose wisely to save money in a number of areas. The most important thing to remember when searching for a home loan: they are not one size fits all. Every home loan is dependent on your current circumstances, credit rating and income level.

Everything may sound confusing right now, but you have a good foundation to work from. As your mortgage broker walks you through the process, you'll be able to identify those loans that may be mentioned without feeling like you're lost. Being educated on what's out there can also help ask the right questions. Although a mortgage broker is designed to help you get the loan you want, they also want to make money too. Working with one that appreciates your knowledge (even if limited) is key. Good luck!




Tags: Mortgage   loan   Homebuying  
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Posted by Shellye Blake REALTOR® on 4/2/2020

It’s hard to overstate the importance of credit scores when it comes to buying a home. Along with your down payment, your credit score is a deciding factor of getting approved and securing a low interest rate.

Credit can be complicated. And, if you want to buy a home in the near future, it can seem daunting to try and increase your score while saving for a down payment.

However, it is possible to significantly increase your score in the months leading up to applying for a loan.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk about some ways to give your credit score a quick boost so that you can secure the best rate on your mortgage.

Should I focus on increasing my score or save for a down payment?

If you’re planning on buying a home, you might be faced with a difficult decision: to pay off old debt or to save a larger down payment.

As a general rule, it’s better to pay off smaller loans and debt before taking out larger loans. If you have multiple loans that you’re paying off that are around the same balance, focus on whichever one has the highest interest rate.

If you have low-interest loans that you can easily afford to continue paying while you save, then it’s often worth saving more for a down payment.

Remember that if you are able to save up 20% of your mortgage, you’ll be able to avoid paying PMI (private mortgage insurance). This will save you quite a bit over the span of your loan.

Starting with no credit

If you’ve avoided loans and credit cards thus far in your life but want to save for a home, you might run into the issue of not having a credit history.

To confront this issue, it’s often a good idea to open a credit card that has good rewards and use it for your everyday expenses like groceries. Then, set up the card to auto-pay the balance in full each month to avoid paying interest.

This method allows you to save money (you’d have to buy groceries and gas anyway) while building credit.

Correct credit report errors

Each of the main credit bureaus will have a slightly different method for calculating your credit score. Their information can also vary.

Each year, you’re entitled to one free report from each of the main bureaus. Take advantage of these free reports. They’re different from free credit checks that you can get from websites like Credit Karma because they’re much more detailed.

Go through the report line by line and make sure there aren’t any accounts you don’t recognize. It is not uncommon for people to find out that a scammer or even a family member has taken out a line of credit in their name.

Avoid opening several new accounts

Our final tip for boosting your credit score is to avoid opening up multiple accounts in the 6 months leading up to your mortgage application.


Opening multiple accounts is a red flag to lenders. It can show that you might be in a time of financial hardship and can temporarily lower your score.







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