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Apply For a Mortgage in 2008 – A Primer For First Time Home Buyers
Over the past year, the mortgage industry has gone through a huge crisis. Some banks have drastically cut back the loan programs they offered. Others added some more stable loan products to replace those they discontinued. Still other banks just went bankrupt all together. For some people, it’s hard to know if buying their first home is possible. Hopefully, the next few paragraphs will be helpful in helping the first-time home buyer wade through all the mud and mire of mortgage lending and give them a chance to realize the American dream of home ownership.
What should a first-time buyer be prepared for when applying for a mortgage?
- Know what your credit report looks like. I’ve learned over the past six years that this is often the biggest surprise for many borrowers. Credit is misunderstood by many and they find that their credit history is nothing like they thought it would be. By law, you are entitled to a free copy of your credit report from all three reporting bureaus (Transunion, Experian, Equifax) once a year. You won’t get your credit scores for free, but you will be able to know what’s on your credit. To learn more about the importance of your credit history, see “Do you need to improve your credit?”
- Get ready to document everything! This is the one area that I have found many first time home buyers are unprepared for. Buying a home is a world apart from buying a new car or a new appliance. Buying a home comes with a lot of potential for things to go wrong for you or the bank. Therefore, you must be able to verify your income, the source of the money you plan to use for the down payment and/or closing costs, the causes behind any blemish on your credit report, and even your identity. Don’t get angry when these things happen. The bank is only trying to protect you and themselves.
- Be prepared to experience some frustration! No one wants to be frustrated. However, when it comes to buying a home, something will inevitably take longer than you think it should. I always tell my clients that the next 45 to 60 days will be the most frustrating days they have ever been through. If and when they are frustrated, it is as I said it would be. If things go well and they don’t get frustrated, they love me even more. Remember, when you’re sitting in your favorite recliner in the family room of your own home, any frustrations you’ve experienced will seem worth it.
- Expect to be treated with dignity and respect. You should expect this from your realtor, your loan officer, your attorney, and everyone else involved in the transaction. If you’re not getting this, it’s time to fire someone working for you (your realtor, loan officer, or attorney) or find a new home to buy and get out of your first choice property. We are all human and we all deserve respect and dignity.
- Always, always, always get a home inspection. This is designed to protect you from any surprises with your new home. You don’t want to buy your house and find out six months later that there is a problem with water leaking under the sliding glass patio door and find out you have rotten wood that needs to be replaced. A good home inspector will find those kinds of things before you buy so you’re not stuck. Believe me, I know what that feels like.
- If you have any questions about anything during the loan application process or anything else that comes up before closing, ASK! The only stupid question is the one not asked. This is probably the biggest investment you will make in your life. You should be fully informed before entering the home ownership. After all, it is your money that you are investing in it.
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