Often the cost of real estate financing is routinely greater than the original purchase price of a home (after including interest and closing costs). Because financing is so important, buyers should have as much information as possible regarding mortgage options and costs.
What kind of loan?
There are thousands of loans available out there from a variety of lenders, but in general, the mortgage you choose will likely be determined by at least several key factors:
- How much down? Loans with 5 percent down or less are now widely available — in fact, loans from major lenders with no money down have appeared in recent years. If you place less than 20 percent down, lenders will want the mortgage guaranteed by an outside third party such as the Veterans Administration (VA), the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or a private mortgage insurer (PMI, or private mortgage insurance, is required by lender to protect against any mortgage defaults). More than 2.5 million VA, FHA and PMI loans are generated each year.
- How’s your credit? The best rates and terms are only available to those with solid credit. To get the best loans, make a point of paying credit cards, installment payments, rent and mortgage bills in full and on time.
- Are you a first-time buyer? It might seem that “first-time buyer” means someone who has never owned property before, but under most state programs, the term refers to those who have not owned property within the past three years. State-backed first-timer programs often feature smaller down payments and below-market interest rates. For details, speak with your local REALTOR.
How do you get a loan?
To obtain a loan you must complete a written loan application and provide supporting documentation. Specific documents include recent pay stubs, rental checks and tax returns for the past two or three years if you are self-employed. During the pre-qualification procedure, the loan officer will describe the type of paperwork required.
Provided by the National Association of REALTORS and Realtor.com