Find a Loan
Look at loan programs and rates offered by several different lenders. If you find a lender that offers one rate when others charge more, you'll save in interest over the life of a 30-year loan. But you should also ask about additional fees.
Comparison-shop online to cut your search time drastically. Work with a mortgage broker who arranges loans from many different institutions. Choosing a mortgage can take weeks if you contact several lenders yourself.
Be sure to compare loans thoroughly.
- Compare at least 6 lenders or mortgage brokers. One of them is bound to offer the loan that's best for you.
- It's not all about interest rates. Getting a low rate is important, but you won't benefit from it if you have to pay too many up-front points and other fees.
- Understand how points and rates work. A point is prepaid interest, and each point you pay equals one percent of your loan amount. If you get a $100,000 loan and pay 3 points, that's $3,000 in points. The more points you pay, the lower the rate you'll get.
- How long will you keep the loan. If you're going to move in a few years, consider an adjustable-rate mortgage since you may be able to sell the house before the rate gets too high. If you plan to stay longer, a fixed-rate mortgage may be an attractive option because your rate stays fixed for the term of the loan.
Apply for a Loan
When you submit your loan application online or in person, your lender combines the information on your application, the results of your credit report, the information about the property you want to buy, and your proposed down payment to estimate your ability to pay the money back.
If you have already been pre-qualified for the mortgage, the lender may be able to approve the application and complete the loan within a couple of weeks. Otherwise, loan approval may take a month or two.
To improve your chances of loan approval:
- Fill out the loan application completely. The lender needs all this information to determine your creditworthiness.
- Respond promptly. Don't put off responding to lender requests for additional documentation. Get the documents yourself and hand-deliver them.
- Don't go on a spending spree. Before the sale is scheduled to close, the lender may check your credit report for high credit card balances and your bank accounts to make sure you haven't drained them.
- Make sure the appraisal is done properly. The lender will order an appraisal of the home to ensure that you don't pay too much. If the appraisal is too low, you can fight the report to prevent the transaction from falling through.
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