What Documents Do I Need to Get a Mortgage?

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What Documents Do I Need to Get a Mortgage?


     One of the most confusing, and often times frustrating, parts of buying a new home or refinancing an old mortgage loan is submitting all of the documentation required by lenders.  If the last time you got a mortgage was pre-TRID, pre-SAFE, pre-Dodd-Frank, the differences in the process can be shocking, demanding, and downright frustrating.  But they don't have to be.  In another blog, I outlined the loan process and what is generally involved.  Knowing how the mortgage process works is step 1 in a frustration-free application, and knowing what documentation is needed is step 2.  Mortgage documentation


     If you gather this information in advance, return requests for it quickly, and provide as much information as possible up front, you save yourself a lot of headache, and you can be one of those people who talk about how pleasant the home buying process is.  Obviously, different loan products call for different sets of documentation, but below are some standard items you should have prepared, or at least readily available, along with a few suggestions to have your mortgage made easy.


The Basics


For just about every mortgage product under the sun, you'll need to have the following:


- Copy of valid goverment photo ID.  This can be a driver's license, passport, visa, or ID card.  The key word to avoid frustration is valid.  If your driver's license has expired, get it renewed to ensure you only have to send it once.  Also, be sure the ID is legible - trying to fax an ID or copy it to paper then send can oftentimes make the ID impossible to read - we don't care so much about the photo, but we do need to be able to read things like address, expiration date, etc.  This is part of a lender's requirement to follow Patriot Act rules.


- Unexpired insurance policy with adequate coverage.  If you're buying a new home, you may not have a policy in place, but at the very least we'll need to know who you'll be using for insurance so we can send them lender requirements for when the policy is available.  If you're refinancing and your insurance is set to expire soon, you may need to provide a renewal notice, or (if the insurance provider refuses to provide a renewal w/updated premium) a rewritten policy to extend the coverage dates.



Income Documents


     Income documents will vary by loan program, and even by borrower (different borrowers may have different income documentation requirements for the same loan product)


For salaried or hourly borrowers, income documentation may vary greatly (we may be able to simply use a full verification of employment from your company and that's it).  Generally, it's a good idea to have the following ready to go or at least easily accessible:


- Most recent 2 years W2 forms

- Most recent 30 days paystubs reflecting year-to-date income



For borrowers who have income from self-employment, investments, real estate owned (REO), or retirement:


- Most recent 2 years federal tax returns, all schedules (depending on how self-employment is structured and how funds are distributed, both personal & business returns may be required)

- Award letters/evidence of receipt for distributions of investment income/pension/social security/etc


For borrowers using alternative income documentation:


- 12-24 months personal and/or business bank statements (One program we offer for example, requires either 12 months personal statements and 3 months business statements, OR 12 months business statements and 3 months personal statements)


***INCOME TIP*** - for any deviation in standard income (bonuses, time off that causes your 'year to date' income not to match your salary/hourly rate, etc) have a letter of explanation and preferably a paper trail to document the deviation. 


Asset Documents


- Standard asset requirements for down payment, closing costs, or cash to close is 2 months asset statements (bank statements, investment portfolio statement, etc), and all pages must be included (for example, if page one says "page 1 of ____", we'll need the statement in it's entirety


- Additional asset statements may be required for bank statement loans (typically 12 months of complete statements), asset depletion loans, or loans requiring reserves.  If funds required for closing or loan approval, we'll need the required number of months for each account being used.  


- If gift funds are being used, a gift letter & documentation that the gift is from an acceptable source will be required.  Some loan programs require proof of funds as well (meaning, if the gift is coming from a family member, that family member's bank statement may be required)


**ASSET TIP** Don't move money around between multiple accounts within 2 months of working on a mortgage.  When funds are moved and large deposits noted, a lender will want to have a papertrail which could involve a lot of paperwork when many accounts have money moving between them.  It's best to keep your funds in one place and have them in order 2+ months prior to buying a home or refinancing.  Of course, you can still move money around, but if you do, be prepared to document the movements.



Supporting Documents


Every borrower is unique, and for that reason, many loan files will require non-standard documentation for different scenarios.


- For situations that could require monthly liabilities, supporting documentation will be required (divorce decrees, legal separation agreements, etc)

- If you'd like to close your loan in a trust, the trust will need to be sent to the lender for review (in most instances closing in a trust is fine, but the trust will have to meet investor guidelines)

- Letters of explanation for recent credit inquiries, derogatory credit accounts, or any deviance in income or assets.  Your loan officer should be able to advise exactly what types of explanation will be requested by underwriting, and why.  


**DOCUMENT TIP**  Giving authorization to share information to a 3rd party (your lender) to your financial companies can save you time.  For example, if you use a CPA, they may have pdf files of your tax returns readily available, so with your approval, they can send them.  Your attorney will likely have easy access to court records, and while most banks have easy online access to full statements, you can also have the bank fax statements with your authorization.  If you pay professionals to help with your finances, they likely have electronic copies that can save you from digging around for paperwork.



     Without preparation, documentation for a mortgage application may seem daunting.  The truth is, it can be.  If you have complicated financials, inconsistent income, and a shaky credit history, the documentation requirements from a lender may be tedious.  However, preparing before you begin the process and knowing what documents to have on hand can make the process streamlined, fast, and stress-free.  Working with an experienced loan officer can also make your life a whole lot easier.  


     And remember, we're here to help you get your loan closed and funded as quickly as possible.  We don't want to deal with any documentation that isn't 100% necessary, and we don't care about your private details.  Messy divorce?  We don't want the details, we just want to be sure any resulting liabilities are included in the loan file.  Trust that indicates behind your modest exterior you're an uber-quadrillionaire?  We don't care and we're not telling anyone, we just want to know the trust verbiage isn't going to have Fannie Mae asking us to buy back your loan after closing.  We don't judge, we just want to get your loan closed, just like you.





Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Jeff Dowler, CRS 04/04/2017 11:21 AM
  2. Debra Leisek 04/06/2017 12:24 AM
  3. Lynn B. Friedman 01/14/2018 05:00 AM
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April Swenson
Coldwell Banker Ocean Shores Brokers - Ocean Shores, WA
CRS and Managing Broker - Ocean Shores Real Estate

This is good information for us all to know. And good tip on not moving around money when buying a property.

Apr 03, 2017 04:58 PM #1
Mary Yonkers
Alan Kells School of Real Estate/Howard Hanna Real Estate - Erie, PA
Erie/PA Real Estate Instructor

John Meussner Very detailed explanation/list needed for mortgage application. Best advice, as you said, respond quickly ith additional docs as needed.

Apr 03, 2017 05:24 PM #2
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the post. I will bookmark it and share with others.

Apr 03, 2017 06:38 PM #3
Lou Ludwig
Ludwig & Associates - Boca Raton, FL
Designations Earned CRB, CRS, CIPS, GRI, SRES, TRC


Informative post on the documents need to get a mortgage.

Good luck and success.

Lou Ludwig

Apr 03, 2017 06:53 PM #4
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

This is very useful information for homebuyers, and those who are wishing to refinance, John.

Apr 04, 2017 08:09 AM #5
Raymond Denton
Homesmart / Evergreen Realty - Lake Forest, CA
Foothill Ranch Specialist

That was really written well, John.  I enjoyed reading it, and the part about moving cash between accounts brought back a memory from last year.  That's something I usually don't have to think about ... but I look out for it now.

Apr 04, 2017 10:38 AM #6
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

John excellent and very though explanation of what docs are required to obtain a loan. Not an easy process by any means without the advice and counsel of experienced lender and agents. 

Apr 04, 2017 11:03 AM #7
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi John

This is excellent, and a terrific resource for those who will be applying for a loan, whether doing so for the first time or not. I find most buyers are pretty surprised at all that is required and knowing upfront what you will need to do and provide helps ease some of the tension!


Apr 04, 2017 11:16 AM #8
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Doing this for myself is easy.  I am very organized.  Did it recently for my mom, who is 85, and it was like pulling teeth.  Her organization is throwing everything on a desk. 

Apr 04, 2017 12:07 PM #9
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

You summed it up perfectly, John Meussner ... "But they don't have to be" ... is so true regarding the mortgage process.

Ironically, I read a report just this morning that addressed this.  The report stated that the results reaped by Borrowers ... their views, opinions and attitudes regarding their level of success and difficulty of the process AFTER they Closed ... were directly tied to the preparations they took ...  and info and knowledge they acquired prior to entering their transaction.  The better educated and thoroughly prepared they were, the happier they were afterwards, in the majority of cases.  

Your post helps greatly in that regard.  It assists readers in becoming happy and successful homeowners/mortgage holders.  The steps are laid out for them to follow and benefit from.  Hopefully many do ...

Congrats on another great post!


Apr 04, 2017 01:06 PM #10
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

John great job with the blog.  Today more than ever before it is important to have all documents needed for a mortgage.  Documentation is the number #1 reason for delays.

Apr 04, 2017 01:21 PM #11
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This is why I turn over clients to loan officers to get them prepped and cleared

Apr 05, 2017 06:41 AM #13
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Good post for all buyers to understand what they need to get a mortgage.


Apr 05, 2017 10:07 AM #14
Frank Rubi
Frank Rubi Real Estate, LLC - Metairie, LA

John, excellent list of documents that a buyer will need to secure a loan. The second important tip is to get documents to the LO so that the purchase will conclude promptly. 

Apr 05, 2017 05:23 PM #15
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

The process will go so much smoother if the buyers are prepared for the loan process...great post... I thank you and will reblog to spread such great information!!!

Apr 06, 2017 12:19 AM #16
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

This is a very helpful list for buyers as to what documents they might need. It's great to be prepared so the process goes much quicker.

Apr 06, 2017 03:33 AM #17
Nathan Gesner
American West Realty and Management - Cody, WY
Broker / Property Manager

Good information on the documents needed. Knowing this in advance can help one prepare and make the entire process more pleasurable. Thanks for the article, John Meussner 

Apr 06, 2017 04:36 AM #18
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Good morning John, great information for all buyers, buying a home can be stressful, especially the mortgage part, knowing exactly what's needed is a great help.

Apr 06, 2017 05:12 AM #19
Jon Kolsky
Kolsky Realty & Management - Long Beach, CA
Licensed California Real Estate Broker

John Meussner ~ every potential homeowner needs to read this post! The mortgage process is such a vital part of buying a home, and you "my friend" not only provide information that makes the lending easy to understand but also you provide the very best care to all of your clients, as well

Apr 07, 2017 10:23 AM #20
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

Great info.  However I find this to be well beyond invasion of privacy.  I know its the law today, but it shouldn't be.  Ok, I'll put away my soap box before I really get wound up.  It is something I have to be able to coach my buyers about.  So I holser my opinions and try to help my clients through it with a great mortgage officer. 


May 03, 2017 09:25 PM #21
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