After evaluating and selecting a mortgage, you'll need to begin the application process with a bank or financial institution. Those who are looking to purchase a home or refinance their property must become approved by lenders to obtain the funds. Although the process of becoming approved can be complicated, there are a few important tips to follow to qualify.
1. Increase Your FICO Score
One of the most important factors that lenders evaluate with each application is the credit score of the borrower. Your FICO score reveals a significant amount about your relationship with money and how well you've managed it over the years. This will determine if lenders trust that you'll repay the loan amount and won't get behind on your payments.Your FICO score ultimately determines the interest rate of the loan, which can add up to thousands of extra dollars each year if you have a low score. Applicants must have a score of at least 580 to qualify for FHA loans but will likely have an interest rate of 3.5 percent.Increase your credit score to reduce your risk of being turned down for a loan by paying off your credit card balances, making your payments on time and having errors removed from your credit report. You'll also need to keep your credit card usage below 20 percent while still maintaining a balance each month.
2. Remain Consistent with Your Employment
Lenders are more likely to approve borrowers who have a long history of employment at the same company or business, which offers peace of mind that they won't lose their job in the near future. Maintain at least two years of employment at the same location and avoid changing jobs frequently. You'll also need to avoid changing jobs during the application process, which can affect your chances of becoming approved. Taking a job that pays less or becoming self-employed will also make you less credible as a borrower.
3. Save for the Down Payment
You'll need a down payment of 5 to 10 percent to ensure that you can prove you're serious about owning a home. FHA loans require applicants to have a down payment of 3 percent to qualify. Lenders may also want to see that you have additional funds available for closing costs and to make the mortgage payment on time.Those who want to reduce their mortgage balance and payment each month should aim for saving 20 percent, which will also allow you to avoid paying for private mortgage insurance, which is often required by lenders to obtain the loan.
4. Calculate What You Can Afford
Many people make the mistake of assuming that they can afford more home than their budget allows. Calculate what you can afford ahead of time to prove to the lender that you have the necessary funds. Consider your gross monthly income and multiply it by two or three to determine the type of home you can purchase. You'll also need to consider other expenses that are associated with home ownership, including HOA fees, property taxes, the cost of repairs, utilities and homeowner's insurance.
5. Avoid New Debt
Avoid accumulating extra debt after applying for a home loan, which can affect how credible you are as a buyer. Lenders will re-check your outstanding balance on your debt while working on your application and will also look at it again before closing. Racking up hundreds to thousands of dollars on your credit cards can easily cause the purchase to fall through before closing due to a change in your credibility.