You’ve saved for your down payment, and now you’re ready to dive into the rewarding world of homeownership. But the uncertainty of how to get pre-approved for a mortgage or what exactly you’ll need to get the best mortgage pre-approval letter can be intimidating.
Walking through exactly how to get pre-approved for a mortgage, from required documents and financial data to making your pre-approval stand out from your competition doesn’t have to be that complicated, though.
Summing Up Mortgage Pre-Approvals
A mortgage pre-approval is an estimate a lender makes based on your financial data and credit history to determine the loan size, monthly mortgage payment amount and the interest rate you can afford to pay. It generally takes one to three days to get your pre-approval. Some lenders like direct mortgage lenders can get you a mortgage pre-approval within hours, which can make all the difference when looking for your perfect home.
When looking to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan that’s right for you, compare mortgage pre-approvals from three different lenders. This will help give you an overview of the best mortgage loan and mortgage interest rates available based on your financial information. You can also use a free and simple mortgage calculator before applying to get an idea of what you may qualify for.
Mortgage pre-approvals are valid for 60 to 90 days on average. Once you get your pre-approval information, you should contact a real estate agent (if you choose to work with one) and begin the home search.
How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Check Your Credit Score
Your credit score tells lenders your spending habits and history of paying your bills, giving insight into how risky a borrower you are. It’s also a major factor in the interest rate you qualify for. If your credit score needs work, try to raise it as much as possible before submitting your pre-approval application; a minimum of 580 to 620 is required, depending on the loan type. You can do this by increasing your credit limits and making extra payments to your credit cards and installment loans – or paying off debts altogether.
Check Your Debt-to-Income Ratio
Many lenders allow a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of only 36 percent of your gross (before tax) monthly income. This includes the 28 percent that will eventually be going to your mortgage. To check your DTI ratio, simply add up your monthly debts (student loans, car loans, health insurance, minimum credit card payments, etc.) and divide that number by your gross monthly income. Then multiply that decimal number by 100. The number produced is your current DTI ratio percentage. The lower the number, the better.
Gather Necessary Pre-Approval Documents
There are generally five things you must show when submitting a pre-approval application.
- Proof of Income: Two years of W-2s and any additional income like alimony, bonuses, etc. If you’re self-employed, you’ll need a year-to-date profit and loss statement, two years of records and 1099s used to report your income and file taxes.
- Proof of Assets: Cash reserves, 60 days of bank statements or retirement accounts, investments, other real estate you own, etc.
- Current List of Debts: Monthly debts like student and auto loans, credit cards, etc.
- Proof of Employment: Lenders may require W-2s, paystubs, proof of employment letters or an employment verification service to verify your current employment. Self-employed individuals will likely need to show additional paperwork on financial strength, nature and location of the business.
- Other Documentation - Such as a government-issued ID (driver’s license or passport), a Social Security number or tax returns.
Once you’ve verified your credit score and DTI ratio – and gathered all your necessary paperwork – you can begin the mortgage process and get your lender’s letter of pre-approval. Now, you could get approved for a mortgage like most others, or you could get a Priority Purchase Program from Wyndham Capital. The Priority Purchase Program equips you with a professionally underwritten mortgage pre-approval that’s as good as cash and lets sellers know you’re a serious contender for their home, helping you stand out from the competition.
Buying a home for the first time is both rewarding and exciting but can come with a lot of home mortgage questions. To get answers and learn about the innovative ways Wyndham Capital saves you time and money at every step of the home lending process, contact one of our dedicated home loan officers today.