Mortgage Approvals Made Easy!

Mortgage and Lending with Steven Liles-Lending Street

Whether you're buying a home or refinancing an existing home loan, you'll soon find out that lenders today are a picky and demanding bunch when it comes to loan approvals. Even well-qualified borrowers are expected to jump through some pretty high hoops to qualify for financing.

But fear not: These tips and suggestions can help you make the best possible impression on the lender of your choice.

Just as job-hunters may wonder what top employers want to see on a resume, prospective borrowers may be curious about what lenders look for on a loan application.

The answer may be summed up with a mnemonic called "The four C's":


· Capacity, which refers to the adequacy of the borrower's income to pay the interest and principal due on the loan, plus property taxes and homeowners insurance.


· Character, which refers to the borrower's track record of paying debts as evidenced by his or her credit history and credit score.


· Capital, which refers to the borrower's down payment (or equity) as a percentage of the current value of the home.

Collateral, which refers to the safety and soundness of the home and the value of the home as determined by an appraisal relative to the agreed-upon purchase price.


Neither a high income nor an exemplary credit report alone is enough to make your loan application stand out. What lenders like to see is strength and stability in all of the four corners.

"If you're strong in all four corners, you're on a chair". "That's pretty stable. In theory, I can take away one of the corners -- maybe your credit score has some dings or you need a stated-income loan -- but the other corners are still pretty solid, so you have a tripod. That's not as stable as a chair, but it will still stand up. If you take away another corner, you have a ladder. Ladders don't work anymore."

Borrowers who are qualified, but whose down payment will be less than 20 percent of the purchase price of the home must withstand a second level of scrutiny. That's because mortgage insurers also have to approve such loans, and they have "completely different qualification ratios," Borrowers in this situation should discuss their options with a loan officer who is familiar with lenders' and insurers' guidelines.

A pile of paperwork

Lenders rely not on the borrower's say-so, but on a pile of paperwork to verify and document the borrower's financial position. At a minimum, most borrowers are required to submit the following.

Paperwork needed for a mortgage application:

•·        One month of paycheck stubs.

•·        Two years of W-2's

•·        Three months of bank account statements:

Additional paperwork that may be required:

•·        If you're self-employed or earn more than 25 percent of your income from commissions or bonuses, you'll need to hand over two years of income tax returns.

•·        If you're divorced, the lender will want a copy of your settlement to ascertain how much alimony or child support you're obligated to pay or are entitled to receive and the duration of those payments.

•·        If you've filed for bankruptcy within the last seven years, you'll need to show your bankruptcy papers.


If you have student loans that are going to be deferred for at least 12 months, that may help you qualify, so they would want to bring the account numbers for those loans. Student loans are counted as debt, but deferral of repayment may strengthen the borrower's application.

Don't rock the boat after you apply
Well-qualified borrowers can still knock themselves out of the loan process if they violate certain rules, the most important of which is: Don't make any substantive changes to your financial position after your loan application is submitted.

Here are some other wise precautions

Don't increase your debt burden. The biggest error we see borrowers make is that they will file their application; they will be pre-qualified; they'll have picked out their home, and they'll be all excited, and they'll go and buy furniture, cars, boats and they will ramp up their debt. And since credit is often rerun before closing, that additional debt now causes them not to qualify.

Don't open new credit accounts, even just to transfer a credit-card balance. If you transfer a balance to a new zero-interest card, your FICO score will drop because all of a sudden you have more credit.

Don't challenge the lender's requests for more documents.  Asking, "Why do you want to know?" or refusing to provide certain documents may arouse suspicion that you have something to hide. Hand over as much documentation as possible upfront, so your application can be considered quickly. Prevarication is pointless because the lender's verification process will turn up whatever truth you've failed to disclose.

Don't float your interest rate unless you can afford higher monthly payments. If your rate isn't locked and rates go up, your debt-to-income ratio will change. Depending on the lender's guidelines, higher payments could prevent you from qualifying for the loan for which you'd applied.

Don't change your employment. Right before closing, every lender verifies that the borrower is still employed in the same position. A job change is less likely to derail your loan if you stay in the same industry, expect to earn at least as much income and don't have a gap between jobs.

Don't delay payment of your bills or rent. Paying what you owe is important, but not enough. You also have to pay on time. Rent doesn't show up on your credit report, but most lenders will check with your landlord because rent payments are a good indication of how reliably you'll pay your mortgage.

Don't skip your mortgage payment. Some homeowners don't bother to make what they believe will be their last payment on their existing mortgage because they know that loan will be paid off when they sell their home or refinance that loan. That's a huge mistake because a late payment can destroy your credit score. If you need to refinance an ARM that's scheduled to reset, try to apply for your new loan at least 30 days before the reset takes effect to avoid the higher payments.

Don't overextend yourself.  If your monthly rent is $1,000, but your new mortgage payment will be $3,000, that's a huge "payment shock" All else being equal, your loan is more likely to be approved if the increase in your monthly housing cost is more modest.

Comments (7)

Jean Terry
Keller Williams Realty Spartanburg, S.C. - Spartanburg, SC

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Aug 26, 2008 07:10 AM
Nance Burdette
Keller Williams Realty Partners - Spartanburg, SC

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Aug 26, 2008 04:20 PM
Benjamin Clark
Homebuyer Representation, Inc. - Salt Lake City, UT
Buyer's Agent - Certified Negotiation Expert

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Aug 26, 2008 05:18 PM
Lorena Westervelt
Van West Realty - Greenville, SC

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Aug 27, 2008 12:11 AM
Steve Vennemann-Hennepin-Dakota-Anoka contract for deed property-Ramsey-MN
BoardWalk Premier Realty INC - White Bear Lake, MN


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Aug 27, 2008 01:46 AM
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Credit Restoration Consultants - Plantation, FL

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Aug 27, 2008 02:13 AM
Rick Sergison
EXP Realty of Canada Inc., Brokerage - Pickering, ON
Durham Region Real Estate Blog

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Aug 27, 2008 09:11 AM