How to Find a Lender
Today, lenders can be found through a variety of sources. In addition to calling on ads in the newspaper, you can also find and apply to lenders over the internet, and through referrals from your REALTOR. We would be happy to suggest lenders we have used successfully, who have proven themselves competitive and capable even with problem properties or poor credit.
Choosing the Right Lender
Interview several lenders to evaluate the following:
- Ability to explain things clearly and return your phone calls in a reasonable time period
- Competitiveness of interest rates, costs & fees.
- Availability of loan programs that suit your credit profile and desired property
- Access to local loan approval committee that understands the kind of property you are buying
Choosing the Right Kind of Loan
Today there are so many types of loans on the market that it is beyond the scope of this page to list or explain them all. Your lender is the best person to help you select a loan program to suit your needs. Below is a summary of the three most popular loan types we see in practice; for more detailed information click the link at the end of this page.
- Fixed loan: The fixed rate loan assures your monthly payments will stay the same over the life of the loan, which is typically between 15 and 30 years. Fixed rate loans may be best if you intend to hold the property for a long period of time, say over 7 years.
- ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages): ARM’s may be suitable if you plan to sell or refinance your home within the next few years. The starting interest rate is typically lower than a fixed rate loan, saving you money initially. However, it is important to understand the index, the readjustment interval, the capitalization rate and downside risks of an ARM before making a final decision to use this type of loan.
- Intermediate ARMs: Also called Hybrid Loans, these loans can offer fixed interest rates for the first 3, 5, 7 or 10 years after which the interest rate adjusts with the market every 6 months or year thereafter.
Does it Help to be Pre-Qualified by a Lender?
The pre-qualification process can be completed fairly quickly, based on less information than is required for getting pre-approved. While it is fast and it does help, a pre-qualification letter is an opinion from a lender of the maximum amount of real estate you can qualify for. In a competitive seller’s market, an offer from a buyer with a pre-qualification letter could lose out to a person who is pre-approved.
Get Pre-Approved by a Lender
There are several benefits to going the extra mile and getting a pre-approval letter. First of all, you will know exactly how much real estate you can afford. When you find a property you want to buy, your offer will be in a better positioned than someone less prepared. Finally, being pre-approved is more efficient; it reduces the amount of time it will take your lender to fund your loan. Be prepared to provide comprehensive documentation, which the lender may independently verify, including but not limited to:
- Job and career status
- Monthly debt payments
- Cash available
- Total assets and debts
Start A Green File
A Green File should contain all of your important financial documents. Regardless of the loan type, lenders will need information about you. Make copies of financial statements; bank accounts, investments, credit cards, auto loans, recent pay stubs and two years’ tax returns.
Check Your Credit Rating
Credit scores range between 400 and 800. 620 + is considered “good”. 680 + is considered “premium” and may possibly help get you a lower interest rate.
Below you will find the contact information for the 3 major credit reporting agencies to help you determine your credit rating. Ask your lender how to improve your credit score if you need to. Going forward, treat your credit like gold.
Savings & Debt
If you are buying real estate, try to accumulate funds towards your down payment, closing costs (appraisal, miscellaneous fees, escrow, title insurance, etc.) and expenses such as inspections. Furthermore, try to pay down existing revolving and high interest rate debt like credit cards.
Toe The Line
Now is not a good time to change careers, move your money around, or buy big ticket items. Lenders like stability. So if you are considering any major changes, it pays to meet with a lender and ask them how to proceed before you make any changes! If you are tempted to buy a big ticket item, consider the following:
|A $500 a month debt payment (like a credit card or auto loan) could lower the amount of home you can afford by about $83,000! *
* Based on a 30 year mortgage at 6% interest.