How-To Guide: Step-By-Step Instructions for Getting the Best Mortgage

By Real Estate Experts

|30 min read

When you are shopping for a new home, it is important to compare rates between different lenders. By doing so, you can ensure that you are getting the best possible deal on your mortgage. Comparing rates also allows you to find the lender that is right for you, based on your needs and budget.

In this article, we’re going to explore the steps you need to take in order to find the best mortgage rates for your new home. By following the process, you can be sure that you are getting the best possible deal on your home loan.

Table Of Contents
  1. Step 1: Calculate Your Income and Debt Obligations
  2. Step 2: Determine the Type of Mortgage You Need
  3. Step 3: Know Your Credit Score
  4. Step 4: Determine Your Mortgage Budget
  5. Step 5: Determine How Much Down-Payment You Can Afford
  6. Step 6: Know Your Situation
  7. Step 7: Go Rate Shopping
  8. Step 8: Get a Full Breakdown of Fees and Costs
  9. Step 9: Ask About Discounts and Incentives
  10. Step 10: Negotiate the Best Rate
  11. Step 11: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
  12. Step 12: Find a Real Estate Agent
  13. Step 13: Start Shopping for Your Dream Home
  14. Step 14: Make an Offer on a Home
  15. Step 15: Get a Home Inspection
  16. Step 16: Apply for the Loan
  17. Step 17: Wait for Loan Approval
  18. Step 18: Attend the Closing
  19. Step 19: Move into Your Dream Home
  20. Conclusion

Step 1: Calculate Your Income and Debt Obligations

The first step in rate shopping is to calculate your income and debt obligations. This will give you an idea of how much you can afford to spend on your mortgage each month.

To do this, you will need to gather up your most recent pay stubs and tax returns. You will also need to prepare a list of all of your debts, including credit cards, student loans, and car payments. Once you have this information, you can calculate your debt-to-income ratio using FastExpert’s mortgage rate calculator.

How Do You Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio?

Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is a simple calculation that compares your monthly debt payments to your monthly income. To calculate your DTI, simply add up all of your monthly debt payments and divide them by your gross monthly income.

For example, let’s say you have the following monthly debt payments:

  • Credit card: $100
  • Car loan: $250
  • Student loan: $200

Your total monthly debt payments would be $550. If your gross monthly income is $3,000, then your DTI would be 18.3%. Keep in mind that other types of monthly payments may be factored into your DTI by the lender.

What Does Your Debt-to-Income Ratio Need to Be For a Mortgage?

In general, you want to keep your DTI below 36%. This will give you a good chance of being approved for a mortgage. If your DTI is too high, it may be difficult to get approved for a loan.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have a lot of cash in the bank, you may still be able to get approved for a loan with a high DTI.

Step 2: Determine the Type of Mortgage You Need

The next step is to determine the type of mortgage that you need. There are many different types of home loans available, and each one has its own set of terms and conditions.

You will need to decide whether you want a fixed-rate mortgage or an adjustable-rate mortgage. You will also need to decide how long you want the term of your loan to be. The term is the length of time that you will be making payments on your mortgage.

What are the Most Common Types of Home Loans?

There are many different home loan products homebuyers can choose from. The most common are:

  • Fixed-Rate: Also known as a conventional loan. A fixed-rate mortgage has the same interest rate for the entire term of the loan, either 15 years or 30 years. This means that your monthly payments will stay the same, even if market conditions change.
  • Adjustable-Rate: An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) has an interest rate that can change over time. The most common type of ARM is a 5/1 ARM, which has a fixed interest rate for the first 5 years, and then the rate can adjust annually for the remaining term of the loan.
  • FHA Loans: Are insured by the Federal Housing Administration and have lower credit score requirements.
  • VA Loans: Available to active duty and veteran military members. They do not require a down payment and have lower interest rates.
  • USDA Loans: Available to homebuyers in rural areas. They have no down payment requirements and low-interest rates.
  • Jumbo Loans: A jumbo loan is a mortgage that is over the conforming loan limit. This limit is set by the federal government and varies in some areas of the country.
  • Interest-Only Loans: As the name suggests, this type of loan only requires interest payments and only for a specific time period.

Step 3: Know Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the most important factors in determining your mortgage rate. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate will be. If you don’t know your credit score, you can get it for free from a number of sources, including a free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com.

What Happens if My Credit Score Changes During the Loan Process?

If your credit score changes before you close on your loan, it could affect the interest rate you are offered. If your score goes down, you may be offered a higher interest rate. If your score goes up, you may be offered a lower interest rate.

How Can I Keep My Score Stable During the Loan Process?

The best way to keep your credit score stable during the loan process is to avoid making any major changes. This includes getting a new credit card, opening a new line of credit, or closing an existing account.

Step 4: Determine Your Mortgage Budget

Once you know how the pertinent financial details, you will need to determine your mortgage budget. This is the amount of money that you are willing to spend on your home loan.

You will need to consider the down payment, closing costs, and other fees associated with buying a home. You will also need to factor in the cost of your monthly mortgage payment.

What is the 28% – 36% Rule?

The 28% – 36% rule is a general guideline that homebuyers should use when determining how much of their income to spend on their mortgage payment.

This rule says that your monthly mortgage payment (including taxes and insurance) should not be more than 28% of your gross monthly income. Additionally, your total debt payments (including your mortgage payment) should not be more than 36% of your gross monthly income.

What Costs Can Add to My Monthly Mortgage Payment?

If you are buying a home with a down payment of less than 20%, you will also need to factor in private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is an insurance policy that protects the lender if you default on your loan.

You will also need to factor in the cost of your monthly homeowner’s insurance premium and property taxes. If the home is situated in an HOA community, you will need to factor in the cost of your monthly HOA dues as well.

Step 5: Determine How Much Down-Payment You Can Afford

The down payment is the amount of money that you will need to put down on your home. The more money you can put down, the lower your mortgage rate will be.

However, you will need to make sure that you have enough money saved up for a down payment. If you don’t have enough money saved, you may want to consider waiting to buy a home until you have more money saved.

How Do You Calculate Your Down Payment?

Your down payment is calculated by taking the purchase price of the home and subtracting the amount of your loan. For example, if you are buying a $200,000 home with a 20% down payment, you would need to put down $40,000. Your loan would be for $160,000.

How Does the Amount of the Down Payment Affect My Mortgage Rate?

The amount of your down payment will affect your mortgage rate. The larger your down payment, the lower your interest rate will be.

This is because lenders see borrowers with a large down payment as being less of a risk. A large down payment also gives the lender more equity in the home, which makes it less likely that the lender will lose money if the borrower defaults on the loan.

What is a Good Down Payment?

A good down payment is 20% of the purchase price of the home. However, you may be able to get a mortgage with a smaller down payment.

If you are putting less than 20% down, you will likely be required to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is an insurance policy that protects the lender if you default on your loan.

Is it Better to Put More Money Down or to Get a Higher Mortgage Rate?

It is better to put more money down so that you can get a lower mortgage rate. The reason for this is that the interest rate is the biggest factor in determining your monthly mortgage payment.

For example, if you are buying a $200,000 home with a 4% interest rate and you put down 10%, your monthly mortgage payment would be $859, excluding other costs such as taxes and insurance.

If you were to increase your down payment to 20%, your monthly mortgage payment would drop to $763, excluding other costs.

While you would have to come up with more money for the down payment, you would save nearly $100 per month on your mortgage payment. Over the course of 30 years, you would save tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments.

Step 6: Know Your Situation

When you are shopping for mortgage rates, it is important to know your situation. By knowing your situation, you can find the mortgage rate that is right for you. You can also avoid paying too much for your home loan.

Things to consider while defining your situation include:

  • Are you looking for a rate that will allow you to refinance your home later?
  • Are you looking for a lower monthly payment? Or a lower down payment?
  • What kinds of assets do you have now?
  • What kind of job do you have? Is it a stable job?
  • Are you self-employed?
  • Do you have a history of late payments?
  • Do you have a bankruptcy or foreclosure in your past?
  • Will there be other people, such as a spouse, on the loan or title?

While not an exhaustive list, the answers to these questions will help you determine what kind of mortgage rate and terms you should be looking for.

Step 7: Go Rate Shopping

Now that you know how to find the best mortgage rates, it’s time to start rate shopping! You can use an online Mortgage Broker to quickly and easily compare rates from different lenders.

When you are comparing rates, be sure to compare apples to apples. That is, make sure that you are comparing the same type of loan, term, and type of mortgage. This will allow you to get an accurate comparison of rates.

What is the Purpose of Rate Shopping?

Rate shopping is the process of comparing mortgage rates from different lenders. The purpose of rate shopping is to find the best mortgage rate and terms for your home loan.

While it can be an overwhelming task, rate shopping is important because it can save you money. A lower mortgage rate will result in a lower monthly payment, which can add up to thousands of dollars in savings over the life of your loan.

How to Rate Shop

The best way to rate shop is to use an online mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers are able to quickly and easily compare rates from different lenders. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a broker that has access to all rates from all eligible lenders. So, it’s important to compare rates from multiple brokers.

What is the Difference Between a Mortgage Rate and APR?

The difference between a mortgage rate and APR is that the APR includes other costs, such as points, fees, and mortgage insurance. The APR is the true cost of your loan.

The mortgage rate is the interest rate that you will pay on your loan. It does not include other costs. To compare rates, you should look at both the mortgage rate and the APR. This will give you a true picture of the cost of your loan.

Step 8: Get a Full Breakdown of Fees and Costs

When you are rate shopping, it is important to get a full breakdown of all of the fees and costs associated with each loan. This includes the interest rate, origination fee, points, and closing costs.

You will also need to know if there are any prepayment penalties, balloon payment, or other restrictions on the loan. Be sure to ask about all of the fees and costs before you agree to any loan.

What are Common Fees and Costs Associated with a Mortgage?

The fees and costs associated with a mortgage can vary depending on the type of loan, the lender, and the borrower. Some common fees and costs include:

  • Origination Fee: This is a fee charged by the lender for processing your loan. It can be a flat fee or a percentage of the loan amount.
  • Points: Points are fees that you pay to the lender at closing in order to get a lower interest rate. One point equals one percent of the loan amount.
  • Closing Costs: These are the fees associated with closing on your home, such as appraisal fees, title insurance, and taxes.
  • Balloon Payment: A balloon payment is a lump sum payment that is due at the end of the loan term.
  • Prepayment Penalty: Some loans have a penalty for prepaying your loan. This means that if you pay off your loan early, you will have to pay a fee.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): Mortgage insurance is required on some loans in order to protect the lender in case you default on your loan.

Are Taxes and Fees Included in the Mortgage?

The answer to this question depends on the type of loan that you have. Some loans, such as government-backed loans, do not require the borrower to pay taxes and fees. However, other loans, such as conventional loans, do require the borrower to pay taxes and fees. If you are not sure if your loan includes taxes and fees, be sure to ask your lender.

Step 9: Ask About Discounts and Incentives

Many lenders offer discounts and incentives to lure in new customers. These can include a lower interest rate, a waived origination fee, or even cash back at closing. Be sure to ask about any discounts or incentives that are available. You may be able to save a lot of money on your loan if you take advantage of these offers.

What are Common Discounts Offered by Lenders?

The most common discounts offered for mortgages are a lower interest rate, a waived origination fee, and cash back at closing.

A lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. A waived origination fee can save you hundreds of dollars upfront. And, cash back at closing can put money in your pocket at the time of closing.

What are Common Incentives Offered by Lenders?

The most common incentives offered by lenders are usually for new homes purchased straight from the builder. These can include a free year of mortgage payments, a free upgrade, or a discounted interest rate.

Step 10: Negotiate the Best Rate

Once you have found a few loans that you are interested in, it’s time to start negotiating! Be sure to let the lender know that you are shopping around. Tell them that you are interested in their loan, but you want to get the best rate possible. Many lenders are willing to negotiate on interest rates and other terms.

How Do You Negotiate Mortgage Rates?

The best way to negotiate mortgage rates is to compare offers from multiple lenders and let them know that you are doing so. This will give you leverage when negotiating. Be sure to ask each lender for their best rate and terms. You can also try to negotiate a lower origination fee or points.

What Should You Do if the Lender Won’t Negotiate?

If the lender is not willing to negotiate on interest rates or fees, you may want to consider going with another lender. There are plenty of lenders out there, so don’t be afraid to shop around for the best deal.

Step 11: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Once you have found the perfect home loan, it’s time to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This will give you a firm commitment from the lender for the loan. It is important to get pre-approved before you start shopping for a home. This way, you will know exactly how much you can afford to spend on your new home.

How Far in Advance Should I Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage?

You should get pre-approved for a mortgage as soon as you start shopping for a home. This way, you will know exactly how much you can afford to spend on your new home.

What is the Difference Between Pre-Qualified and Pre-Approved?

While both of these terms sound similar, pre-qualified and pre-approved are entirely different concepts. Pre-qualified means that the lender has looked at your financial information and has given you an estimate of how much they would be willing to lend you. Pre-approved means that the lender has looked at your financial information and has given you a firm commitment to the loan.

Do Pre-Approvals Hurt My Credit Score?

A pre-approval will not hurt your credit score. In fact, it can actually help your credit score by showing that you are a responsible borrower. Many real estate agents will not work with you until you are pre-approved.

How Difficult is it to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage?

Pre-approval is basically a promise from the lender that they will give you a loan up to a certain amount. It is not difficult to get pre-approved for a mortgage, but it does require some documentation, such as proof of income, employment, and assets.

Step 12: Find a Real Estate Agent

Now that you have been pre-approved for a mortgage, it’s time to find a real estate agent. A real estate agent can help you find the perfect home within your budget. They can also help you negotiate the best price for your new home. Be sure to interview several real estate agents before you choose one to work with.

What to Look for When Choosing a Real Estate Agent?

When choosing a real estate agent, you should look for someone who is experienced and knowledgeable about the area where you are looking to buy. You should also make sure that they are familiar with the type of home and home loan you are interested in. Be sure to interview several real estate agents before you choose one to work with.

Will an Agent Work With Me If I am Not Pre-Approved?

Some real estate agents may not be willing to work with you if you are not pre-approved for a mortgage. This is because they have to put in time and resources upfront to show you home listings. If you are not pre-approved, it sends the message you are not seriously considering buying a home.

How Much Does a Real Estate Agent Cost?

Most real estate agents work on commission, which means they only get paid if you buy a home. Commission fees can vary, but they are typically around 5% -6% of the purchase price of the home. However, the seller is most often responsible for both buyer and seller agent commission fees.

Step 13: Start Shopping for Your Dream Home

Now that you have a mortgage pre-approval, it’s time to start shopping for your dream home. Be sure to keep your budget in mind when you are looking at homes.

You may be tempted to spend more than you can afford just because you have been pre-approved for a loan. However, it is important to stay within your budget so that you can comfortably make your monthly payments. This is especially true if you are looking at an adjustable-rate mortgage.

What If I Can’t Find a Home Within My Budget?

If you can’t find a home within your budget, you may need to reconsider your budget. It is important to remember that your monthly mortgage payment will include things like property taxes and homeowners insurance. You may also need to factor in the cost of repairs and maintenance.

If you are still having trouble finding a home within your budget, you can talk to your real estate agent about other options, such as looking at homes that need some work or negotiating with the seller.

Step 14: Make an Offer on a Home

Once you have found the perfect home, it’s time to make an offer. Be sure to work with your real estate agent to come up with a fair offer. The seller may counter-offer, but be sure to stand firm on your price. You don’t want to overpay for your new home.

Can I Make an Offer on a House Without Seeing It First?

You can make an offer on a house without seeing it first, but it is not recommended. There are a lot of things you can’t see in photos or video tours, such as the condition of the home and the surrounding neighborhood.

It is always best to see a home in person before you make an offer. This way, you can be sure that it is the right home for you and that you are comfortable with the asking price.

What Happens if My Offer is Accepted?

If your offer is accepted, the next step is to enter into a purchase agreement with the seller. The purchase agreement will outline the terms of the sale, such as the purchase price, closing date, and any repair credits.

Once you have signed the purchase agreement, the home is considered under contract. This means that you are legally obligated to buy the home and the seller is legally obligated to sell it to you.

Step 15: Get a Home Inspection

Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to get a home inspection. A home inspection is an important step in the home buying process. It will help to ensure that the home is in good condition and that there are no major repairs that need to be made. Be sure to attend the home inspection so that you can ask any questions that you may have.

Are Home Inspections Required?

No, home inspections are not required. However, they are highly recommended. A home inspection can uncover any major problems with the home that you may not be able to see yourself.

What Happens if the Home Inspection Finds Problems?

If the home inspection does uncover any major problems, you may be able to negotiate with the seller to have them repaired or to have the purchase price lowered. If you are unable to reach an agreement with the seller, you may be able to cancel the contract and get your earnest money deposit back.

Step 16: Apply for the Loan

Now that you have all of the information you need, it’s time to apply for the loan. The application process will vary depending on the lender that you choose. Be sure to carefully read over the application and provide all of the required information. Once you have submitted your application, it will be time to wait for a decision.

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Apply for a Loan?

Since you are already pre-approved, the process should be pretty straightforward. Your lender will likely just need some updated information, such as your employment history and current bank statements.

Once you have submitted your application, the lender will review it and make a decision. If you are approved, they will send you a loan estimate. This document will outline the terms of your loan, including the interest rate, monthly payment, and closing costs.

Step 17: Wait for Loan Approval

Once you have submitted your loan application, it will be time to wait for a decision. The lender will review your application and make a decision based on your credit history and income. If you are approved for the loan, the lender will send you a letter of commitment. This letter will outline the terms of the loan and what you need to do next.

What is the 3-7-3 Rule for Mortgages?

The 3-7-3 rule came about by the Mortgage Disclosure Improvement Act of 2008 (MDIA). This Act was put in place to help consumers understand the terms of their mortgage before they commit to the loan.

This rule states that a lender must wait at least seven business days from the time the initial disclosures are sent to the borrower to close the loan. The initial disclosures must include a:

1) A Good Faith Estimate (GFE) of the closing costs

2) A Truth in Lending (TIL) disclosure statement

If the final APR is more than 0.125% higher than the APR disclosed on the TIL, then the lender must re-disclose this and wait an additional three business days before closing the loan. At this point, the buyer has the option to cancel the loan, if they want to. Also, the lender is not allowed to collect any fees during this time except the credit report fee.

Step 18: Attend the Closing

Closing is the final step in the home buying process. This is when the property is officially transferred from the seller to the buyer. Be sure to review all of the documents carefully before you sign them. Once you have signed all of the required documents, you will be the new owner of the home!

What Happens at Closing?

At closing, you will sign a lot of paperwork. This includes the mortgage documents, deed, and title insurance policy. You will also need to bring a certified check or wire transfer for the down payment and closing costs.

Once all of the paperwork is signed, the keys will be handed over to you and you will be the new owner of the home! Congratulations!

Step 19: Move into Your Dream Home

Now that you have closed on your loan, it’s time to move into your dream home. Be sure to take your time and enjoy your new home. You have worked hard to get to this point and you deserve it.

Conclusion

Buying a home is a big decision. There are many steps that you will need to take in order to ensure that you are making the best decision for your needs. While it is a long and sometimes confusing process, it is important to remember that you are making an investment in your future. With a little patience and perseverance, you will be in your dream home before you know it.

Real Estate Experts

FastExpert is a real estate agent directory that ranks agents by location according to client ratings and past home sales history. Our goal is to give you all the information you need to choose the right real estate agent for your needs. Users can search by specific traits that are important to them as well as see specific addresses of homes agents have sold in the past. Let FastExpert help you find an agent!  Real Estate Experts's Website

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