Thanks to the economic crisis, borrowing money has never been harder. Some financial institutions are very wary right now about issuing new credit or new loans. I learned this firsthand when we were going through the mortgage application process. Never would I have imagined it would be so hard!
I recently wrote a post here on what you can do to start preparing yourself to buy a home. Those tips went right up to the point where you might, say, start actually looking at houses and making an offer. What happens after that? What can you do when you’re in the throes of applying for a mortgage?
I’m not going to sugar-coat it—it’s a difficult process. You will be scrutinized in ways you never imagined. You will have to devote significant portions of your day to making things happen with your financial institution. However, there are some things you can do in advance—and during—the process of closing your loan:
1) Don’t carry a balance on your credit card. Make sure these are paid off every month and you don’t have any revolving credit, as this will hurt your debt-to-income ratio, a key factor in loan approval.
2) Don’t make any large purchases! If you’ve been planning to take a trip to Europe or buy a new car or a TV or furniture, just… don’t. My husband and I had been waiting to buy our airfare for a trip to Italy, and we had to just keep putting it off. For one thing, you don’t want to decimate your savings (financial institutions care about what you have in “reserve”) and for another, you don’t want to look like a spendthrift. Stability is key.
3) Don’t quit your job! This was another one we ignored. My husband changed jobs in the middle of the process, and we ended up having to delay our closing because banks want to see 30 days of pay before they approve you. Bad decision!
4) Save EVERYTHING. Save every bank statement, copies of every check you write or receive, letters about student loans, etc. When in doubt, just put it in a file folder. Some financial institutions will ask for some crazy things to make sure you aren’t pulling a fast one on them.
5) Better yet, scan all those documents on to your computer. When your loan officer asks you for something, you’re going to want to be able to hand it over as fast as possible. Timing is of the essence when it comes to getting a mortgage. The more quickly you can get them things, the better.
Be prepared, and be over-cautious. You’ll be under the microscope!