Start Me Up, I Want to Buy a Home

Mortgage and Lending with Guaranteed Rate, Marin County, CA NMLS: 22343

Start Me Up, I Want to Buy a Home 


To borrow yet another song reference, and you know I'm fond of those, 'it's not unusual' for first-time buyers to come in our door and readily admit they have no idea where to start the home buying process.  Often they are referred by real estate agents who tell them there's zero chance they'll see the inside of their cars on a property search until they have a pre-approval letter in hand.  But what is a mortgage pre-approval, where does one start that process and how to get a letter?


The Big Three

Fundamentally, a mortgage preapproval is nothing more than a lender's analysis of your income, assets and credit.  That's it.  Yes, we are going to need to pull a credit report and no, you will never be a serious contender to purchase a home if your lender does not run an actual credit report.  I've discussed why, in the vast majority of cases, there's nothing to fear with a credit pull here, but along with your income documentation (paystubs, W-2 forms and tax returns, etc.) and bank statements (two months, all pages) we are then able to determine the boundaries of your mortgage approval.  This, in turn, will allow us to generate a pre-approval letter for you.  You'll note that I didn't mention anything about having identified a  specific property and that holds true at this stage.  While we will take general property characteristics into consideration (price point, HOA dues if any, and so on) you do not need to have a property in mind in order to get a pre-approval.



The Big Two

Now that we've identified the components of the pre-approval, let's address the two main purposes it serves:

  1. It tells us, the lender, the limits of your borrowing capacity.  By analyzing FICO score, debt ratio (DTI), asset reserves, down payment (LTV) and all other borrower traits, we can set limits on what's possible for your home search.
  2. It tells you, the buyer/borrower, how your credit capacity translates into a monthly housing payment and how that will impact your financial budget going forward.  Perhaps one of the unexpected outcomes of the pre-approval process is how informative and educational it becomes.  Prospective buyers walk in admitting they know next to nothing and walk out fluent in some of the finer points of mortgage lending.  This transformation can happen over the span of just a few weeks.


The Big One

So what's the next step?  With us, you make a digital mortgage application online.  At least in 99% of the cases, that's the most efficient, intuitive and user-friendly way to get started.  There is no cost or obligation to get pre-approved here at Guaranteed Rate.  Your pre-approval is generally valid for 90 days and can be 'refreshed' if necessary.  And no matter how many properties you tour and how many letter revisions you require, we are here to answer any questions and to assist you throughout the process.  Get in touch any time if we can help.


Gimme shelter, 



Robert J. Spinosa
Vice President of Mortgage Lending

Guaranteed Rate
NMLS: 22343 
Cell/Text: 415-367-5959 Fax: 415-366-1590

Marin Office:  324 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, CA  94960

Berkeley Office:  1400 Shattuck Ave., Suite 1, Berkeley, CA  94709

*The views and opinions expressed on this site about work-related matters are my own, have not been reviewed or approved by Guaranteed Rate and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Guaranteed Rate.  In no way do I commit Guaranteed Rate to any position on any matter or issue without the express prior written consent of Guaranteed Rate's Human Resources Department.


Guaranteed Rate. Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee NMLS License #2611 3940 N. Ravenswood Chicago, IL 60613 - (866) 934-7283


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Show All Comments
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Rob,

Sounds like you are dealing with a lot of the smart ones out there. I recommend starting up with a lender sooner rather than later.

Nov 29, 2018 07:50 AM #1
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Good morning,  Rob - first time homebuyers or those who haven't done it in awhile,  may need some assistance in how to approach the task. Our lending partners play a crucial role in achieving a successful outcome.  PS - continue with the musical/song references. 

Nov 29, 2018 07:57 AM #2
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Rob,
You always share such great info.  Thanks!

Nov 29, 2018 08:50 AM #3
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

As always, an excellent, well thought out and well written post with great musical references.  Keep it going!

Nov 29, 2018 01:58 PM #4
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

That was great Rob. Enjoyed how you tied your article around past songs & did some Rolling Stones to "start up" your video. 

Nov 29, 2018 02:52 PM #5
Francine Viola
Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA - Olympia, WA
REALTOR®, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs

Great video!  Potential buyers are so hesitant to get approved.  I’m glad you calmed their fears; it’s really pretty painless.

Dec 04, 2018 03:23 PM #6
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Rob Spinosa

SVP of Mortgage Lending, Marin County
Can I Get a Jumbo Loan with 10% Down?

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