Buying a home during today's challenging market can be intimidating. Seeking the financing for that home ... frightening ... especially if it's the first time you've ever done so.
The media can be full of horror stories of confusion, distrust, and fraud. The perception is that evil lenders or real estate professionals lurk around every corner. Traps are everywhere.
The truth is ... the real estate and financing industry is much like any other. There are good and bad within these professions. But, that being said, precautions do need to be taken to insure that you end up finding and utilizing the services of one of the many reputable professionals working within the industry.
How do you find these qualified and trustworthy individuals? How do you avoid the problems and failures you read and hear so much about? How do you protect yourself? What is your best "insurance policy" for a good, healthy mortgage transaction and home purchase?
You EDUCATE yourself. Education regarding the mortgage process. Education regarding the programs available to you. Education regarding your options, both financial and housing. Education about the purchase process. Education and knowledge about the real estate professionals you choose to work with.
"To pursue and educate yourself", is my best single piece of advice to any buyer or someone looking to finance. But perhaps the second best piece of advice? Expect the process to take time. There are no quick and speedy closings any longer. There are no quick and speedy fixes to credit issues or problems that arise within the sales or mortgage process.
The first step you should take towards home ownership should be ... seek out a qualified and trustworthy mortgage professional.
The best route to finding that professional is through others. Ask lots of questions. Ask those that you know, work with, are related to, and trust for recommendations and referrals. Do you know someone that's recently closed a loan? Would they work with that person again?
Do you know realtors? Insurance agents? Attorneys? Other real estate-related professionals? Gather the names they offer and start comparing them. Are names cropping up on your list repetitively?
Once you have a few names, take the time to check their references. If they have a website, view that. Call and ask them for their references and the names of past customers and contacts willing to testify to the integrity and quality of their services. Educate yourself regarding their professional abilities and qualifications.
After you have decided on your mortgage professional, contact them for a pre-qualification session.
This prequalification will help you educate yourself as to your capabilities and limitations regarding the financing for a home purchase or refinance. Educate and/or update what you know of your credit standing and FICO score. Especially in today's challenging market, credit scores are all important. Starting the process early allows you time to improve credit scores and/or clear up any errors found on your report.
Once you have actually entered the processing portion of your financing ... Be AWARE and ACCEPT that underwriters involved in mortgage financing are demanding documentation for everything ... and plenty of it ... and .... THEY WILL NOT ADVANCE YOUR TRANSACTION OR APPROVE YOU FOR FUNDS IF YOU DO NOT COMPLY. Resisting their demands and not fulfilling their requests only delay your transaction's closing. You will not change an underwriter's mind. Reconcile yourself to that fact and comply ... your transaction will move much more smoothly and quickly. Again, if you have started the process early, you have allowed time to address these matters and many stressful situations can be avoided.
TIMELY TIP: For buyers presently considering a move ... be aware that the present tax credits available to first-time home buyers and "move up" buyers alike, have definitive guidelines you must meet to claim them. Do not miss out on these great opportunities for tax credit/rewards by being uneducated regarding the guidelines and/or delaying the start of your financing and home search.
Again, education is key. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS. Keep asking them until you get the information you need and require to move ahead, fully prepared, and with full peace of mind.
If you have found the right professionals to work with, you will arrive at your goal. You will fulfill the dream of moving into your new home and you will close on a loan that is a comfortable and beneficial fit for yourself and your finances.