Buying A Home in Farmington Hills MI? Getting A Pre-approval is Key

Buying A Home in Farmington Hills MI? Getting A Pre-approval is Key

Buying A Home in Farmington Hills MI? Getting A Pre-approval is Key: You may have been told that it’s important to get pre-approved at the beginning of the homebuying process, but what does that really mean? And why is it so important? In today’s market, with rising home prices and high buyer demand, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your budget and stand out as a serious homebuyer to sellers.

Once you get pre-approved for a home loan, the seller knows you’re a better prospect than someone who hasn’t begun negotiating with a lender. Pre-approval is also helpful when you’re hunting for a house. If you have a pre-approval amount of $240,000, for example, you know not to waste your time shopping for a $400,000 home.

Is Pre-qualification the same as pre-approval?

A pre-qualification is a good indication of creditworthiness and the ability to borrow, but a pre-approval is the definitive word. A mortgage pre-qualification is usually based on an informal evaluation of your finances. You tell the lender about your credit, debt, income, and assets, and the lender estimates whether you can qualify for a mortgage and how much you may be able to borrow.

Pre-approval is the next step if you get a thumbs up during pre-qualification. During the mortgage pre-approval process, a lender will pull your credit report and review documents to verify your income, assets, and debts.  If you are confident about your credit and financial readiness to buy a home, then you might skip the pre-qualification step and go straight to the pre-approval and start shopping for a home. 

Mortgage pre-approval

A mortgage pre-approval is an offer by a lender to loan you a certain amount under specific terms. Pre-approval is not a guarantee you will be given a loan and the mortgage can still be denied. A home appraisal must be completed before a loan can close to ensure you aren’t paying more for the home than it’s worth. 

Also, the lender’s offer may not stand if your financial situation changes between pre-approval and closing. Keep in mind that it can take several days or longer to get preapproved for a mortgage. The timeline varies by lender and how quickly you are able to provide the lender with the information it needs, including proof of your income and assets.

When you are ready to make offers, a seller often wants to see a mortgage pre-approval and, in some cases, proof of funds to show that you’re a serious buyer. In today’s competitive market, sellers have an advantage because of intense buyer demand and a limited number of homes for sale; they may be less likely to consider offers without pre-approval letters.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 5.1 offers for sellers to consider. As a result, bidding wars are more and more common. Pre-approval gives you the advantage you need if you get into a multiple-offer situation, and these days, it’s likely you will.

When multiple buyers have made legitimate offers for the same Farmington Hills MI property, the seller can choose which one they want to accept. A pre-approval letter indicates to both real estate agents and home sellers that you’re financially able to buy a home, and it’s expected that a pre-approval letter will accompany any offer you make.

How to get pre-approved for a home loan

Start by requesting copies of your credit reports. Dispute any errors that might be causing your score to be lower than it should be. If you find delinquent accounts, work with creditors to resolve the issues before reaching out to a lender for mortgage pre-approval.

A credit score of at least 620 is recommended, and a higher credit score will qualify you for better rates. Generally, a credit score of 740 or above will enable most borrowers to qualify for the best mortgage rates. 

Calculate your debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is the percentage of gross monthly income that goes toward debt payments, including credit cards, student loans, and car loans. Lenders prefer borrowers with a DTI of 36% or below, including the mortgage, though it can be higher in some cases.

Gather income, financial account, and personal information such as Social Security numbers, current addresses, and employment details for you and your co-borrower (if you have one). You will also need bank and investment account information and proof of income. 

Documents you will need to get a mortgage pre-approval letter include your W-2 tax form and 1099s if you have additional income sources and pay stubs. Two years of continuous employment is preferred, but there are exceptions.

Self-employed applicants will likely have to provide two years of income tax returns. If your down payment will be coming from a gift or the sale of an asset, you’ll need a paper trail to prove it.

Understand what the lender is offering you. Make sure you understand all the terms of your mortgage. If you don’t know what something means, the lender must explain it to you. The Truth in Lending Act requires all lenders to provide you with comprehensive loan cost information so you can comparison shop.

Comparing offers from multiple lenders can help you compare rates and fees and save you thousands of dollars over a 30-year mortgage. Going through the mortgage pre-approval process shouldn’t hurt your credit score. FICO, one of the largest U.S. credit scoring companies, recommends confining those applications to a limited time frame, such as 30 days.

Time your pre-approval. A pre-approval is typically good for 90 days. Wait until you’re ready to start hunting for your house before you request a pre-approval, otherwise, you are wasting both your time and that of the lender who’s preapproving you.

The bottom line

Every step you take to gain an advantage as a buyer is crucial in a market that’s constantly changing. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards.

It is important to have the information, resources, and the right team of professionals such as a loan officer and a trusted Farmington Hills MI real estate agent to help ensure that you take the right steps. If you’ve been trying to decide if now is the right time for you to buy a home, let’s connect to discuss your options.

Partner with top-rated Farmington Hills MI REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam

With a passion for real estate, Tom Gilliam has been serving Farmington Hills and the surrounding Oakland County MI area for nearly two decades. Tom is known for his friendly demeanor, dedication, and professionalism. He will be able to quickly ascertain your needs and goals and create a plan of action based on your specific criteria. 

Tom’s clients appreciate his honesty and transparency and feel it helps them as they make important real estate decisions. He understands how important good communication is to every transaction and is available for his clients whenever they have questions or concerns, promptly returning all phone calls, texts, and emails.

Having someone like Tom by your side to advise and guide you means there is one less thing you need to worry about. He will protect your interests, advocate for you, negotiate on your behalf, and go the extra mile to ensure the best results possible. If you are interested in buying or selling Farmington Hills real estate or homes in the surrounding area, please give Tom Gilliam a call at (248) 790-5594 or you can reach him by email.

Tom Gilliam, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Classic
29630 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills 48334
Direct: 248-790-5594
Office: 248-737-6800
License #314578 

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Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI and Your Credit Score

Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI and Your Credit Score

Buying a Home in Farmington Hills MI and Your Credit Score

Your 3-digit credit score affects nearly every facet of your financial life. The higher the score, the easier it is to achieve important milestones such as buying a car or getting a mortgage to purchase Farmington Hills MI homes for sale. Credit scores typically range from 300 (poor) – 850 (excellent) and borrowers within a certain range can qualify for a mortgage loan.

While you don’t need a perfect 850 credit score to get the best mortgage rates, there are general credit score requirements you must meet in order to take out a mortgage. For the best mortgage rates, you should try to aim for a credit score of 760 or higher. However, the minimum credit score requirements vary.

Conventional and jumbo loans are not insured by the government and will often have higher credit score requirements than government-backed loans, such as VA loans or USDA loans. The VA itself doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement. Instead, it requires lenders to look at the overall loan profile.

Mortgage lenders may set their own underwriting requirements, and many lenders want to see a credit score of 620 or higher. There’s also no minimum credit score requirement for a USDA Loan, and you can possibly get approved for one with a 620, 600, or even a 580 credit score. 

Having a higher credit score makes a big difference in the amount of money you pay over the course of a loan. Credit scores in the higher range can save you thousands of dollars in interest payments over the life of a mortgage.

Minimum FICO Credit Score Requirements for Several Mortgage Loans 

1). Conventional Loans 

Borrowers need a minimum credit score of 620 (Fair) to qualify for a conventional mortgage loan. Conventional loans follow standards set by government-sponsored mortgage loan companies, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and may be secured by one of these companies or a private lender. 

Conventional loans are more affordable and are divided into conforming or non-conforming loans based on whether they conform or follow lending rules set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Conforming loans follow standards such as maximum loan amounts and non-conforming loans may exceed those limits.

2). Jumbo Loans

Borrowers need a minimum credit score of 680 (Good) to qualify for a non-conforming jumbo loan. A jumbo loan exceeds the maximum loan amount limits set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency ( FHFA), responsible for overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as the 11 Federal Home Loan (FHL) banks. 

Jumbo loans are not eligible to be insured by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, which means lenders take on more risk in the case borrowers default on the loan. Borrowers need to meet higher credit score requirements of at least 680 due to the larger loan amounts and riskier nature of these loans. As with conforming conventional loans, down payments vary.

3). FHA Loans

Borrowers need a minimum credit score of 500 (poor) with 10% down or a score of 580 (fair) with 3.5% down. Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, an FHA loan is an option for borrowers who are considered a higher risk due to low credit scores and little money to put toward a down payment. Credit score requirements differ based on how much money you plan to put down. 

Borrowers with a higher credit score can qualify to make a lower down payment. With a down payment of less than 20%, lenders will typically require borrowers to take out private mortgage insurance (PMI) to cover the cost if you default. Although PMI costs extra, it allows buyers who cannot make a significant down payment (or those who choose not to) to obtain financing at affordable rates. 

PMI typically costs 0.5% – 1% of your loan amount per year. So, for example:  if you buy a $300,000 home, you would be paying anywhere between $1,500 – $3,000 per year in mortgage insurance. This cost is broken into monthly installments to make it more affordable.

4). VA Loans

VA loans are insured by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and are designed for eligible members of the military community and their spouses. The VA doesn’t set a minimum credit score requirement for the VA loan, but also does not make the loan. Lenders who do make the loans will typically have a credit score benchmark. Although the benchmark can vary from lender to lender, a 620 (fair) credit score is a common requirement for a VA loan. 

When determining credit eligibility for a VA loan, lenders will analyze the borrower’s credit profile. This generally includes pulling credit reports from the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) and taking the middle, or median, score as your credit score for VA loan qualification.

In addition to your credit score, your lender will consider past credit patterns to determine willingness to repay. A borrower who has made timely payments for at least the past 12 consecutive months demonstrates a willingness to repay future credit obligations. Conversely, a borrower with late payments, judgments, and delinquent accounts may not be a good candidate for loan approval.

5). USDA Loans

Although USDA loans don’t officially have a minimum credit score requirement, most lenders prefer a minimum credit score of 640. The U.S. Department of Agriculture guarantees a mortgage issued by a participating local lender, similar to an FHA loan and VA-backed loans, allowing you to get low mortgage interest rates, even without a down payment. If you put little or no money down, you will have to pay PMI. 

Borrowers typically finance these fees into the loan rather than pay them in cash. Because USDA loans are designed to spur development in rural areas, they are one of the few mortgage programs that require borrowers to purchase property in a specified geographic area. The good news is most of the U.S. is considered eligible outside of urban areas. 

The Takeaway

If you are currently planning on buying a home in Farmington Hills MI, you’ll want to check your credit reports and scores as soon as possible. The better your credit history, the more likely you are to receive a good interest rate on your mortgage loan. Lenders will use your credit reports and scores as important factors in determining whether you qualify for a loan, and what interest rate to offer you.  

If there are errors on your credit report, you may have trouble qualifying for a loan. Review your credit reports and take steps to fix any errors. You have the right to a free copy of your credit report once per year from each of the three companies (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian) at

Partner with Top-rated Farmington Hills MI REALTOR® -Tom Gilliam

Whether you are interested in buying a home in Farmington Hills, MI, or its time to list your current property, experience matters most in a changing market. Offering over 20 years of local experience, top-rated Farmington Hills REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam offers in-depth local market knowledge and access to the most up-to-date listings. Tom is known for his professionalism and is an expert at uncovering the perfect home for his clients’ lifestyle needs in the right Farmington Hills neighborhood or community. 

2020 Best of Farmington Hills REALTOR - Tom GilliamFor sellers, Tom will create a comprehensive marketing plan that exposes your home to the public as well as to other real estate agents through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, and so on.

Your listing will appear on all the most popular real estate sites where buyers spend hours a day looking at homes such as, Zillow, Trulia, REMAX, Redfin, and dozens of others. Your property will also be featured on Tom’s own highly-trafficked website You can be assured that your home will get sold quickly and for the highest market price.  

Farmington Hill MI Homes for Sale

Tom works very hard for his clients. As your agent, Tom will protect your interests, negotiate on your behalf, advocate for you, and be your trusted guide and advisor throughout the home buying or selling process. If you or someone you know is interested in Farmington Hills MI real estate, please give Tom Gilliam a call today at (248) 790-5594 or you can reach him here.

Tom Gilliam, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Classic
29630 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills 48334
Direct: 248-790-5594
Office: 248-737-6800
Email: Tom @
License #314578

Buying Your Farmington Hills Home-How Much To Borrow

Buying Your Farmington Hills Home-How Much To Borrow

The “rule of thumb” regarding loans is that your monthly housing payment such as the taxes, bills, insurance, mortgage, etc., should not be more than 28% of your income that you receive every month. When it comes to FHA loans, the balance of ration might be higher. The question that remains is, “How much do I need to borrow when buying your Farmington Hills Home?”

Here’s what you should focus on: it all comes down to “down payment”. The higher the amount you have saved, the easier it will be to get a mortgage loan for your Farmington Hills home.


Let’s clear this up for you. Following is some pertinent information that all homebuyers should know about before buying your Farmington Hills home:

Counting Your Savings

As said earlier, down payment plays the biggest role in the home buying process. If you have 20% down payment saved up, then you don’t have to worry about private mortgage insurance. Let’s say that you saved around $20,000 for the down payment. If  the home in Farmington Hills, costs $100,000, then you are building equity from the start. However, if the asking price is higher than this, then you will be charged a PMI anywhere between 0.25% and 2%.

All in all, you will be borrowing less if you have the 20% down payment or more. Moreover, the lender will be more open to giving you a loan and at a low interest rate when buying your Farmington Hills home.


When calculating the monthly payments, factor in your debts too. Aim for a house that will cost you less than 28% of the monthly income. This is because you will be paying down your debts, and any missed payment might result in a penalty

 Kinds of Houses Are You Looking For In Farmington Hills?

What are your future plans?

Do you see yourself having a family?

How many kids do you plan to have?

What are your aspirations regarding your job in Farmington Hills?

How is your lifestyle?

Questions like these give you a clear perspective of what kind of house you should buy in Farmington Hills. The price of the house increases depending on the neighborhood and the facilities offered within the community. The number of rooms, backyard, driveway and garage also play a role in the price range. Set a margin and tell your real estate agent to stick to it. Be realistic about your needs.

Be Mindful When Borrowing

Don’t bite more than you can chew! Financial stress is the worst and can quickly lead to depression. So, look for a house in Farmington Hills that falls under your budget and amounts to monthly payments you can easily pay.

Now you understand why it is so important to assess your financial situation before making this move. Look for a house that you think you can spend the next 10 to 20 years in. Changing houses within the span of 5 years will financially bankrupt you. If you want to buy a home for sale in Oakland County, Michigan, that falls under your budget and has all the features you need, then visit Homes2MoveYou.

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Buying a House-Ask Yourself These 3 Questions First

Buying a House-Ask Yourself These 3 Questions First

Buying a house is everyone’s favorite “American Dream”. People save for years, so that they can live comfortably and secure their future. Today, the real estate market is quite unpredictable. The demand is on high and the supply is less. Sellers are facing too much competition and are taking different tactics to market houses.

The current real estate trend requires you to do your homework before browsing the market. Jumping the gun will cost you extra and unbiased advice from friends and family. This might force you to take the wrong decision, which is why it is important to proceed with the home-buying process with a real estate agent by your side.

So, before buying a house, ask yourself the following three questions:

Q1. Why Have You Decided Now in Buying a House?

For a minute, set aside your finances and focus on the other reasons of why you are buying a home for sale in Oakland County, Michigan.

  • You no longer feel safe in an apartment.
  • The landlord is unbearable.
  • Has there been a new addition to your family?
  • The school in the area is not good enough for your child.
  • Some of the facilities available nearby were shut down and now you are having trouble.
  • Your job changed and commute is hard to get here.

Narrow down the reason behind the buy and then you will be able to evaluate its seriousness. Making a huge decision such as buying a house is not something you should do on a dime.

Q2. Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

The housing market right now is buyer-friendly, which gives you the opportunity to buy a great home for sale in Oakland County, Michigan within your budget. This window is quite important and must be one of the reasons behind why you are buying a house. In 2017, the housing market went up by 5.8% from 2016. Right now, the market is stable but according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), it will reach alarming levels by the end of this year. So, unless you want to look for change under your couch cushions, better check out the real estate market trend before buying a house.

Q3. Is the Mortgage Affordable for You?

The house-buying process can become quite confusing and difficult, if you are not working through a real estate agent. The long term cost is something that will haunt you even after years of buying the house. Even a 0.5% increase in the interest rates can set you way back on the monthly payments. This is why it is important to consult different lenders and find the perfect mortgage loan plan that you will be able to pay within 20 to 30 years and without going into debt.

Our final word of advice is that if you feel it is the right time for your family and you to buy a house then you should go for it! If you want to buy a home for sale in Oakland County, Michigan that falls under your budget then visit Homes2MoveYou. Get in touch with a me directly 248-790-5594 and start seeing houses in areas of your liking.


Down Payment Under 6% For Many Home Buyers

Down Payment Under 6% For Many Home Buyers

It seems that the biggest hurdles and worries for penitential home owners is the down payment on a home, leaving potential home buyers feeling defeated in the first steps to moving and getting their own Down Payment Under 6% For Many Potential Home Buyershome. The potential home buyer still believes that it is the 20% traditional down payment that is needed to secure a mortgage and to purchase a home. This way of thinking and believing can stop any potential home buyer from even taking the first step into becoming a homeowner, but this has changed and many potential home buyers are unaware that the traditional days are long past us.

Down Payment Changes

Times have indeed changed for most potential home buyers, depending on your credit worthiness and other factors the 20% down day’s area thing of the past. Many potential home buyers are able to get a mortgage for a new home with not 10% down payment, but as low as 6%. That’s right, in 2017 over 61% of potential home buyers made a 6% and sometimes less down payment on their new homes according to  National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Confidence® Index. Not only that, but I have seen in recent months new homebuyers getting down payments as low as 3%. For potential home buyers this is reason to celebrate.

Low down payment mortgages such as FHA and others have paved the way for potential home buyers to realize the American dream of home ownership without having to stash away and struggle with trying to save up to 20% on a down payment for their first home. This is good news for a whole new generation of potential home owners that were concerned and stressing about a large down payments in order to be able to purchase a new home.

The Take Away

If you have been unable to save up to 20% for a down payment, it’s time to start talking to some lenders to determine the right situation for you. Your dream of home ownership without the stress of depleting your savings or having enough for a down payment is awaiting you. I know some great lenders that I can suggest to you. Give me a call 248-790-5594 or Contact Me

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Some Farmington Hills Home Loan Applicants, a Surprise Boost

Some Farmington Hills Home Loan Applicants, a Surprise Boost

A July Surprise for Farmington Hills Home Loan Applicants

Farmington Hills Home Loan Applicants May See Credit Boost Some Farmington Hills Home Loan Applicants, a Surprise Boost

For a few Farmington Hills mortgage applicants, next week may see a one-time favorable change in how they are viewed by home loan lending institutions. It’s a technical change that could amount to a significant difference in the results they get when they apply for Farmington Hills home loans.

The first evidence of what the Washington Post calls “a surprise boost” will be triggered on Saturday, which marks the July 1 beginning of a changeover in the information gathered by the three national credit bureaus. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion have been working with a number of states to handle an awkward technical problem: many states have outmoded computer reporting systems that result in “troubling error rates” in official public records.

Translation: they’re frequently outdated, scrambled, missing identity information—just plain wrong.
The data in question—tax liens and monetary damages from civil court judgments—has too often been the basis for depressed credit scores for unfortunate home loan applicants. And because some governmental agencies can be excruciatingly slow to respond to requests for corrections, when time is a factor (as it often is) those mistakes can be decisive. For any Farmington Hills home loan applicant whose own credit score has suffered, it’s not an abstract problem.

As part of an initiative by the credit bureaus to increase the accuracy of their scoring, beginning in July they will purge the dubious information from their files and stop collecting it altogether. FICO estimates that between 12 and 14 million U.S. consumers have tax liens or judgments in their current files: they can expect an abrupt jump in their scores. Consumers with no other negatives in their files could see their FICO scores instantly jump by 40 points or more. The result could be better home loan offer terms as well as lower interest rates.

Inevitably, there is a downside. Those with legitimate judgments and tax liens against them will also show elevated scores, which could be misleading to loan companies and landlords who rely on the numbers to make informed risk evaluations. The size of the problem is expected to be limited, though, since most people with judgments and liens have other negatives in their files.

In case you are uncertain whether your own credit score might be affected, that probably means it’s been a while since you checked…and that’s never a good thing! Keeping on top of your credit reputation is certain to pay off in the long run, especially when the time comes to begin looking for your next Farmington Hills home—which is also when you’ll want to give me a call!

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