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
Email: Homes2MoveYou.com
License #314578 

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Buying A Home in Farmington Hills: 7 Things to Do Before Applying for a Mortgage

Buying A Home in Farmington Hills: 7 Things to Do Before Applying for a Mortgage

 

Buying A Home in Farmington Hills: 7 Things to Do Before Applying for a Mortgage

If you’re thinking about buying a home in Farmington Hills MI, applying for a mortgage is never simple, but it’s even trickier when you don’t know what to expect. If you are a first-time homebuyer, you can make the process easier by learning as much as you can ahead of time, before you’ve found your dream house.

Knowing what to expect allows you to plan ahead and improve your chances of getting a home loan with favorable terms. Here are 7 things to do before applying for a mortgage:

1). Review your credit report

Review your credit report to ensure there are no surprises long (several months) before you begin the mortgage process. Put simply, a low credit score will lead to a much higher mortgage rate, and even disqualification if it drives your monthly mortgage payment high enough.

When you submit a mortgage application, they’ll check your credit reports maintained by one or more of the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), and the credit scores derived from those reports.

Lenders use credit information to help decide whether they’re willing to issue you a home loan and, if so, how much they’re willing to lend you and how much they’ll charge you in interest.

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Once a year, you can obtain a free credit report from all three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. You’ll want to review each credit report carefully to make sure it accurately reflects your credit history and be ready to dispute anything on the report that isn’t accurate.  

2). Get familiar with basic mortgage terms

“Amortization,” “origination fee,” “earnest money” and other common terms used in mortgage lending might be phrases you’ve never even heard before. Since we are talking about your money and 10 to 30 years of your life, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with basic mortgage terms before speaking to lenders.

Everything you learn will position you to make the best choices for your finances and your future. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your lender or even your Farmington Hills REALTOR® lots of questions about the mortgage process, including mortgage terms you don’t understand.  

3). Know your budget

You don’t want to wind up with a mortgage you can’t pay – so it’s important to be realistic about your monthly income and expected expenses, and to leave some breathing room in your budget for emergencies or unexpected costs that might come up.

Most financial advisors agree that you should spend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses and no more than 36% on total debt. That includes housing as well as things like student loans, car expenses, and credit card payments.

The 28/36 percent rule is the tried-and-true home affordability rule that establishes a baseline for what you can afford to pay every month. To calculate how much 28% of your income is, simply multiply your monthly income by 28.

If your monthly income is $6,000, for example, the equation should look like this: 6,000 x 28 = 168,000. Now divide that total by 100. 168,000 ÷ 100 = 1,680.

Knowing what you can afford can help you take financially sound next steps. The last thing you want to do is jump into a 30-year home loan that’s unrealistic for your budget, even if you can find a willing lender.

If you want to qualify for a mortgage on your first try, it’s important to know how big of a loan you can reasonably afford. You can speak to a lender and go through a quick pre-qualification process to find out how much you can qualify to borrow and determine your budget for a home.

4). Improve your debt-to-income ratio

A high debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the #1 reason why mortgage applications get rejected. Your DTI is all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income.

Most lenders typically offer loans to creditworthy borrowers with DTIs as high as 43-47%. That limit is based on policies by government-backed lenders like Fannie Mae, put in place to protect customers against predatory lending practices.

Simply put, the lower your DTI, the more financing options will be available to you.  If you have some flexibility on when you plan on buying, taking time to lower your DTI (and improve your credit score) can save you a lot of money over the life of your loan. 

A few DTI reduction strategies to consider:

  • If possible, pay off your car loan before applying for your mortgage.
  • If you plan on purchasing a car, considering waiting until after you’ve bought your home.
  • Start paying off your credit cards in full, one by one, but don’t close them out. 
  • If possible, refinance or consolidate current loans to reduce your monthly payments.
  • Consider adding a co-borrower with a low DTI and good credit history to your loan 

5). Consider various loan options

Not all home loans are the same. Knowing what kind of loan is most appropriate for your situation prepares you for talking to lenders and getting the best deal.

Understand how these choices affect your monthly payment, your overall costs both upfront and over time, and your level of risk. A loan “option” is always made up of three different things: loan term, interest rate type, and loan type.

Loan term 

Interest rates come in two basic types: fixed and adjustable. This choice affects whether your interest rate can change, whether your monthly principal and interest payment can change and its amount, and how much interest you will pay over the life of the loan.

With a fixed-rate loan, your interest rate and monthly principal and interest payment will stay the same. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) offer less predictability but may be cheaper in the short term. In the later years of an ARM, your interest rate changes based on the market, and your monthly principal and interest payment could go up a lot, even double.

Explore rates for different interest rate types and see for yourself how the initial interest rate on an ARM compares to the rate on a fixed-rate mortgage.

Interest rate type 

Interest rates come in two basic types: fixed and adjustable. This choice affects whether your interest rate can change, whether your monthly principal and interest payment can change and its amount, and how much interest you will pay over the life of the loan. 

With a fixed-rate loan, your interest rate and monthly principal and interest payment will stay the same. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) offer less predictability but may be cheaper in the short term. In the later years of an ARM, your interest rate changes based on the market, and your monthly principal and interest payment could go up a lot, even double. 

Explore rates for different interest rate types and see for yourself how the initial interest rate on an ARM compares to the rate on a fixed-rate mortgage.

Loan type 

 Mortgage loans are organized into categories based on the size of the loan and whether they are part of a government program (conventional, FHA, or special programs). This choice affects how much you will need for a down payment, the total cost of your loan, including interest and mortgage insurance, and how much you can borrow, and the house price range you can consider. 

Each loan type is designed for different situations. Sometimes, only one loan type will fit your situation. If multiple options fit your situation, try out scenarios and ask lenders to provide several quotes so you can see which type offers the best deal overall.

6). Shop around

You’ll want to compare all the costs involved in obtaining a mortgage. Shopping, comparing, and negotiating may save you thousands of dollars. Home loans are available from several types of lenders – commercial banks, mortgage companies, thrift institutions, and credit unions.

Different lenders may quote you different prices, so you’ll want to contact several lenders to make sure you’re getting the best price. You can also get a home loan through a mortgage broker with access to several lenders, giving you a wider selection of loan products and terms to choose from.

Keep in mind that brokers are not obligated to find the best deal for you unless they have contracted with you to act as your agent. Therefore, you should consider contacting more than one broker, just as you should with banks or thrift institutions.

Good agents know good lenders

Your Farmington Hills real estate agent can help you find a mortgage lender. Most agents have a plethora of lenders in their referral database, and a group of lenders that they have personally worked with before. Agents can be trusted to refer a mortgage lender with a proven record and who can close loans.  

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) prohibits agents from receiving a “thing of value” from a lender in exchange for sending you its way, and this inhibits them from entering into quid pro quo arrangements that might not be best for their clients.

Most homebuyers want their new home purchase to be handled thoughtfully. They want to close within the contract period. That scenario is more likely to happen if you use your agent’s preferred mortgage lender.

7). Pull together your financial documents  

It’s a good idea to start prepping your financial documents. Lenders will request paperwork for your mortgage application that proves things like how much money you make and your debts. 

 Depending on your financial situation, the documents you will likely need when applying for a mortgage include 2 years’ worth of tax returns, pay stubs, W-2s or other proof of income, bank statements and other assets, credit history, gift letters, photo ID, and rental history.

If you’re self-employed or have other sources of income (such as child support), you will need to show your lender proof through 1099 forms, direct deposits, or other means. 

If you have any blemishes on your credit reports such as a previous short sale or a foreclosure, be prepared to write a statement that explains any negative items. Lenders may look at one-time unavoidable circumstances differently from habitual delinquency. 

The takeaway

The more you prepare ahead of time, the easier it should be to get the loan you need on the home you want and can comfortably afford. Don’t forget to compare different loan products, such as fixed-rate mortgages vs. ARMs, and conventional loans vs. FHA loans.

Both have their pros and cons and should be carefully considered. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Also, be sure to shop around and get rate quotes from more than one lender. By doing so, you’ll likely get a better interest rate, more favorable loan terms, and save money now and in the long term.

Speak with your Farmington Hills MI REALTORⓇ about referring a lender to you. Real estate agents who routinely close a lot of deals have experience working with multiple lenders and know which of them will deliver.

Partner with Highly-rated Farmington Hills MI REALTOR -Tom Gilliam

Whether you are interested in Farmington Hills MI homes for sale or it’s time to list your current property, experience matters most in a changing market. Serving Farmington Hills and the surrounding area for over 20 years, Tom is able to provide his clients with the kind of knowledge, skills, commitment, and personalized service they need and deserve.

An extremely down-to-earth person, Tom is someone you can trust and feel good about working with. His clients appreciate his honesty and transparency and feel it helps them as they make important real estate decisions. Tom makes himself available to his clients whenever they have questions or concerns and promptly returns any texts, calls, or emails.

Farmington Hills MI Homes for Sale 

As your Farmington Hills MI real estate agent, Tom will protect your best interests, advocate for you, negotiate on your behalf and do whatever is necessary to ensure the best results possible. Having a trusted professional like Tom by your side means there is one less thing to worry about.

To find out more about buying or selling real estate in Farmington Hills MI, or homes in the surrounding Oakland County area, please give highly-rated REALTORⓇ – Tom Gilliam a call directly at (248) 790-5594 or send him an email

Tom Gilliam, REALTOR®
RE/MAX Classic
29630 Orchard Lake Rd.
Farmington Hills 48334
Direct: 248-790-5594
Office: 248-737-6800
Email: Tom @ Homes2MoveYou.com
License #314578 

Farmington Hills MI Real Estate

 

 

 

Mortgage Pre-qualification, Pre-approval, and Approval Process

Mortgage Pre-qualification, Pre-approval, and Approval Process

Mortgage Pre-qualification, Pre-approval, and Approval Process  

If you are ready to make your dream of homeownership a reality, then you have probably already heard that you should consider getting prequalified or preapproved for a mortgage. It’s important to understand what each of those terms means. When you are working toward a major life goal like buying a home, you want every advantage and tool in your homebuying arsenal. 

In this article, we will discuss the mortgage prequalification, preapproval, and approval process and what to expect from all three:

Mortgage Pre-qualification 

When you pre-qualify for a home loan, you are getting an estimate of what you might be able to borrow. Many first-time homebuyers find that getting prequalified is helpful, especially when they are establishing their homebuying budget. Pre-qualification also provides the opportunity to learn about different mortgage options you may not know about and work with a lender to identify the right fit for your individual needs and goals. 

Keep in mind that you may qualify to borrow more money than you are comfortable spending on a home. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend more. It’s always a good idea to limit your home search to houses priced at an amount you can comfortably afford and obtain a mortgage amount that easily fits into your overall budget. 

Mortgage Pre-approval 

Pre-approval is as close as you can get to confirming your creditworthiness without having a purchase contract in place. Getting preapproved is a smart step to take when you are ready to put in an offer on a home. It shows sellers that you can secure a mortgage, which makes it more likely that you will complete your purchase of the home. Because you have had your finances and creditworthiness verified, sellers will be more likely to consider you a serious buyer.  

With a pre-approval, you will complete a mortgage application. The lender will verify the information you have provided and perform a credit check. If you are, in fact, preapproved for a home loan, you will receive a pre-approval letter, which is an offer (but not a commitment) to lend you a specific amount of money, which is good for 90 days. Lenders will look at every detail of your finances when granting pre-approval. Be prepared to answer lender questions as soon as they come up.

How Long It Takes To Get Pre-qualified or Pre-approved 

Pre-qualification and pre-approval can take different amounts of time. Pre-qualifying is a quick process and can actually be done online. You may even get results within an hour. Since you will need to supply more information for a mortgage pre-approval, it is likely to take more time. You should expect to receive a pre-approval letter within 10 business days after you have provided all of the information requested by your lender.  

Information Needed to Get Pre-qualified and Pre-approved

The information you will need to provide to get pre-qualified for a mortgage:   

  • Basic income information
  • Credit Check
  • Basic information about bank accounts
  • Downpayment amount and desired mortgage amount
  • No tax information required

 The information you will need to provide to get pre-approved for a mortgage:

  • Copies of pay stubs that show your most recent 30 days of income
  • Credit check
  • Bank account numbers/two most recent bank statements
  • Downpayment amount and desired mortgage amount
  • W-2 statements 
  • Signed, personal and business tax returns from the past two years

Pre-qualification Vs. Pre-approval Comparison

  PREQUAL  PREAPPROVAL
Benefits You can start house-hunting knowing how much you might be able to borrow You’ll be ready to make an offer with confidence—and gain a competitive advantage
Process Provide basic information to a lender and quickly get a prequalification amount After submitting documentation to a lender, you should receive a decision within 10 business days
Documentation Answer questions for this process, plus a credit check Provide proof of financial details, plus a credit check

 Factors Involved with Getting Approved for a Mortgage 

Even if you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, it isn’t an automatic final approval. Pre-approval is only the first step in the loan process and your underwriting can still be denied. Being pre-approved will make sure you have a good credit score, verify your income, and assure that you will be able to pay back the loan amount. 

Once you’ve been pre-approved, your file must then go to the underwriter who will take a much deeper look into your financial stability.  The underwriter will review your loan scenario and supporting documentation to determine whether you qualify for the loan, with the following basic criteria in mind:

  • Your ability to repay the loan – Is your income enough to cover the new mortgage payment and all your other monthly expenses? Lenders use your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and most lenders want your debt-to-income ratio to be 36% or less.
  • Your likelihood to repay the loan. Your payment history and credit score are indicators to lenders of your likelihood to make payments in the future.
  • The home’s value – The underwriter will look at the value of the home you are purchasing to verify that it meets or exceeds the purchase price and whether the loan-to-value ratio (LTV) fits within the loan program guidelines. With a conventional loan, most lenders require a loan-to-value ratio of no more than 80-95% (The higher your home’s value and the less you owe on it, the lower your LTV).
  • The source and amount of funds for your down payment – You will typically be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which increases your monthly mortgage payment if you have a down payment of less than 20%. The underwriter will review your information to estimate whether you have enough money to cover closing costs. Lenders also typically require reserves to cover your mortgage payment in case of emergencies or unforeseen events.

As you move forward, your income, debt, credit history, down payment, savings, home value, and loan program guidelines will all play a role in whether your mortgage application is approved.

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

2020 Best of Farmington Hills REALTOR - Tom GilliamWhether 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. With over 20 years of local experience, Farmington Hills REALTOR® – Tom Gilliam offers in-depth local market knowledge and access to the most up-to-date listings.

Known for his professionalism and care for every detail, Tom is an expert at uncovering the perfect home for his clients’ lifestyle needs in the right Farmington Hills neighborhood or community.

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For 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 Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, REMAX, Redfin, and dozens of others. Your property will also be featured on Tom’s own highly-trafficked website Homes2moveyou.com. You can be assured that your home will get sold quickly and for the highest market price.  

Tom works very hard for his clients. He will protect your interests, 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 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 @ Homes2MoveYou.com
License #314578

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