Your lender will need a complete picture of your financial situation to help determine how much home you can afford. You and the loan officer will fill out the Uniform Residential Loan Application, a four-page document that asks in-depth questions about you, your income, your assets and liabilities and your credit as well as a description of the property you wish to buy. The process will go much smoother if you have everything with you when first meeting with the loan officer.
Determining your down payment
As part of the application process, you must state how much of a down payment you can make. Obviously, the bigger the down payment, the smaller the mortgage. As little as three percent down may be possible. Qualified veterans may be able to obtain a loan with no down payment at all through the VA home loan program. On loans with less than 20 percent down, you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) which protects lenders against losses. The cost of PMI will be reflected in slightly higher monthly payments and, possibly, an additional fee at settlement.
What you will need for the application:
- Agreement or contract of sale
- Employment history
- Income information
- Source of down payment and closing costs
- Credit information
- Real estate owned
- Application fee
There are special situations regarding self-employment, rental income and the like which require additional information. Your loan officer can tell you what else you will need. If you are in doubt, feel free to call and ask!
Typically, lenders charge an application fee which covers the cost of a credit report, an appraisal of the property, and possibly, determining if the property is located on a floodplain.
Some lenders may not charge an application fee, but may increase the loan rate or other costs to cover these charges. It’s important to have a clear understanding of the services covered by the fee and how they may be paid.
Application legal requirements
Within three days of your loan application, your lender is required to furnish you with a copy of Settlement Costs, a booklet prepared by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It describes the settlement process and the typical costs that buyers and sellers often must pay at settlement. You may even want to ask for a copy before applying because the information is valuable.
You’ll also receive a Good Faith Estimate of settlement charges, based on your lender’s past experience in the area where the property is located.