Maybe you’re buying your first home. Or maybe you’re selling your current property to buy a new one. Regardless, there will come a time when you need to apply for a mortgage (unless you’re paying with cash, of course).
While it’s easy enough to compare lenders and apply online, don’t do so until you first understand your options and the steps you can take to solidify your financial circumstances.
Here are five things you should try to do:
1. Check Your Credit Score and Report
Review both your credit score and report for a clear overview of your finances. Maybe you find that everything is in order. But perhaps you find that you can make a few key changes over the next few months that’ll help you qualify for a mortgage at the lowest rate possible.
2. Think About Your Down Payment
There used to be a time when it was possible to buy a home with zero money down. While this is still an option for some people, most find that they need a down payment to qualify for a mortgage.
As a general rule of thumb, shoot for 20 percent of the purchase price. Not only does this give you plenty of equity in your home from the start, but it allows you to avoid the expense of private mortgage insurance.
3. Create a Budget
Don’t rely on your mortgage lender to tell you how much money you can afford. They’ll tell you what you qualify for, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can actually afford a mortgage of that amount.
By creating a budget, you’ll better understand how much you can afford to pay each month. And remember, there’s more to this than the cost of the home. You must also consider home insurance, taxes, HOA fees (if applicable), and maintenance.
4. Learn More About the Types of Loans
The most common type of mortgage is a fixed rate, fixed term. For example, a 15 or 30 year fixed rate.
However, there are other options available to you, such as a government insured mortgage, jumbo mortgage, or adjustable rate mortgage.
5. Think About the Future
You never know what the future will bring, but you should take a strong look at what you’re hoping to accomplish in regards to your living situation.
Are you buying a starter home? How about a fixer-upper? Or are you buying your forever home?
When you think about the future, it’ll help you make better decisions in the here and now.
It’s easier than ever to apply for a mortgage, as you can search for a loan online and/or through a traditional broker.
Before you apply, take a step back to focus on the five details above. Doing so will help you make an informed decision that’ll work in your financial favor.