Marlene Bienes -EcoBroker Certified
Brokerage Division @ Capital Home Builders & Developers, Inc.


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A house is the largest investment most of us will ever make so it's important to calculate what your payment will be and how much you can afford. The mortgage calculator will show you how much your monthly payment will be. It can also show the effect of adding extra payments.

Types Of Mortgages

What is Conventional Mortgage?
What Is Jumbo Mortgage?
What Is An FHA Loan?
What Is A USDA Loan?
What Is A VA Loan?

Steps Before a Home Search

1. Mortgage Preapproval Letter

If you’re ready to begin house-hunting, your first priority should be getting a mortgage preapproval letter from a lender. The preapproval letter shows the seller and the real estate agent advising you that you’re serious about buying the home and know how much you can afford.

2. Preparing for the Preapproval Process

Before contacting a lender, buyers should visit to obtain a free copy of their credit reports from the three national credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Buyers can save both themselves and their lenders some time if they can identify—and attempt to correct—any errors or major deficiencies in their credit history. Some mortgage lenders recommend reaching out to them as early as 12 months before a buyer plans to buy a home for these same reasons.
Reaching out to a lender 12 months in advance may seem too early, But if there’s anything you need to work on, it gives you time to prepare. A credit issue may take four to six months to fix.

The extra time also comes in handy for gathering the financial documents a lender needs to issue the preapproval letter. The list can be long. In many cases, the buyer may not have looked at or accessed the files in years. Here’s a sampling of the paperwork that a buyer may need to provide:

1. Copy of your Social Security card
2. Employment W-2 forms from multiple years
3. Pay stubs
4. Recent statements for every bank and investment account
5. Tax returns from at least the past two years
6. Buyers often procrastinate on this task, if only because they don’t know where to start when selecting a lender. They also may feel wary about selecting the “wrong” lender, especially if they fear wasting their time or delaying their home buying timeline.

3. How Long Does It Take To Get Mortgage Preapproval?

The speed at which a lender preapproves a potential borrower varies. It depends a lot on how quickly you gather and submit the necessary documents and how long it takes them to review your financial paperwork. Once the lender has all your information, you should receive a loan estimate within three business days—much less if you use an online mortgage lender—that will tell you whether or not you’ve been preapproved and for how much. 

4. How Long Does Preapproval For A Mortgage Last?

The mortgage preapproval is not indefinite, but the length of time varies depending on the lender. Most mortgage pre-approvals are valid for 30 to 90 days and then expire.

5. More Than Pre-Qualification

Mortgage preapproval and pre-qualification are different, so don’t confuse the two. Articles about home buying may mention both terms in the same sentence, but a buyer who becomes “pre-qualified” hasn’t actually accomplished much. This process typically only involves a conversation or a credit score review.

Since pre-qualification doesn’t verify financial data, identify red flags or address potential issues, it won’t improve a buyer’s standing with the seller’s team. Buyers have more to gain from focusing on preapproval, which will take more time but actually impacts the purchase effort.

Mortgage preapproval represents a lender’s offer to loan the buyer money based on certain financial circumstances and specific terms. The lender reaches this point only after reviewing and confirming the buyer’s credit standing, employment, income, assets and/or tax returns.

Even as a preapproval letter empowers a buyer to move toward a home purchase, it doesn’t limit the buyer’s lending options. Buyers don’t have any obligation to obtain a loan from a lender with whom they have had a conversation, shared financial documents or received a preapproval letter.

courtesy of Forbes Advisor contributors Kevin Mahoney, brai-odion-esene/

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