Tuesday, March 21, 2017

5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Mortgage Preapproval

If you're beginning the process of buying a home, obtaining a mortgage preapproval is one of the first key steps. Real estate agents often require a preapproval letter before showing homes to potential clients. 

With preapproval, you'll fill out a mortgage application from your chosen lender and pay the requisite application fee. You'll also need to provide documents that prove your income, and the lender will check your credit score. 

Here are five of the most common mistakes that potential homebuyers make during the preapproval process, and how to correct them in time to avoid sabotaging your mortgage during the early stages.

1. Not Knowing Your Credit Score

For most lenders, you'll need a FICO credit score of at least 620 to qualify for a mortgage, and a score of over 700 will qualify you for the best rates. 

Experts recommend checking your credit at least six months before you plan to apply for a mortgage preapproval. This gives you time to take necessary steps to raise your score before beginning the home buying process, such as paying down debt and disputing incorrect information on your credit report. 

Improving your score will not only help ensure you get approved, but potentially save you thousands over the life of the loan.

2. Making a Large Credit Purchase

You've already gotten your preapproval and had an offer accepted on your home, so it's time to finance your new furniture, right? 

Not if you want to qualify for a mortgage. According to industry blog My Mortgage Insider, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now require credit to be pulled again 48 hours before closing. 

If there are major changes, it could affect the lender's willingness to provide final loan approval.

3. Paying Off the Wrong Debts

You know that you have to get rid of some of your debt before you'll get approved for a mortgage, since your debt to income ratio should ideally be below 30 percent. 

According to Nerd Wallet, some aspiring home buyers waste money paying off old debts that are no longer collectible and won't affect mortgage approval. 

Instead, focus on paying down credit cards with a large balance in order to obtain the magical 30 percent ratio.

4. Missing Loan Payments

Make sure to keep paying all your credit cards and other loan obligations on time from the time you're applying for preapproval to the time you close on your home. 

Missing a payment in this period can jeopardize your mortgage loan by damaging your payment history and thus lowering your credit score.

5. Not Having Cash on Hand

In most cases, you'll need to show the lender that you have the required down payment funds plus three months' reserve in your bank accounts. 

If you're planning to cash out investment accounts to purchase a home, do so sooner rather than later so the funds will be in your account.

Buying a home is a great step, but it can be set back greatly by unwise choices surrounding the mortgage preapproval process. By keeping these five tips in mind, you're helping ensure that the mortgage approval process will go smoothly.

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