Tina McManus' Blog
Many first-time home buyers are worried about all of the documents and information they’ll have to gather when applying for a mortgage. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably dreading having to dig through the five places that these documents might be. Fortunately, the process is now somewhat streamlined thanks to lenders being able to collect most of your information digitally.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about the documents you’ll need to collect when you apply for a home loan so that you feel prepared and confident reaching out to lenders.
Documents needed to pre-qualify
Before going into applying for a mortgage, let’s talk about pre-qualification. There are three types, or in some cases steps, of approval with most mortgage lenders: pre-qualification, pre-approval, and approval.
Pre-qualification is one of the earliest and simplest steps to getting pre-approved. It gives you a snapshot of the types and amount of loans you can receive. Pre-qualification typically doesn’t include a detailed credit analysis, nor do you need to provide many specific details or documents.
Typically, you’ll fill out a questionnaire describing your debts, income, and assets, and they will give you an estimate of the loan you might qualify for. Might is the key word here. Your pre-qualification amount is not guaranteed as you haven’t yet provided official proof of your information.
Documents needed for pre-approval
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage entails significantly more work on the part of you and your lender than pre-qualification. First, the lender will run a credit analysis. You won’t need to provide them with any information for this step, as they’ll be able to automatically receive the report from the major credit reporting bureaus. However, it’s a good idea to check your report before applying to make sure there aren’t any errors that could damage your credit.
Now is where the legwork comes in.
You’ll need to gather the following documents to get officially pre-approved or approved for a mortgage:
W-2 forms from the previous two years. If you are self-employed, you’ll still need to provide income verification, usually as a Form 1040, or “Individual income tax return.”
Two forms of identification. A driver’s license, passport, and social security card are three commonly accepted forms of identification.
Pay stubs or detailed income information for the past two or three months. This ensures lenders that you are currently financially stable.
Federal and State income tax returns from the past two years. If you file your taxes online, you can often download a PDF version that includes your W-2 or 1040 forms, making the process of submitting tax and income verification much easier.
Personal contact information. Name, address, phone number, email address, and any former addresses which you’ve lived in the past two years.
Bank statements from the previous two months. Also, if you have any assets, such as a 401K, stocks, or mutual fund, you’ll be asked to include those as well.
A complete list of your debts. Though these will likely be on your credit report, lenders want to ensure they have the full picture when it comes to how much you owe other creditors and lenders.
If you’re planning to stay in your home as you age, or "age in place", it’s wise to begin planning to renovate your home for your future self sooner rather than later. This will save you money and headaches down the road. I know it’s not an exciting topic of conversation to discuss aging and how to make your home more accessible. However, it’s certainly an important one. And even if you never use these features yourself, they are great to have in a home even if just for visitors, such as your parents.
Renovating before retirement ensures you have the cash flow to fund each change you make to your home. By making these changes now when you don’t need them, instead of as you go, allows you time to do research on best pricing and how to add features that will look seamless in your home. Just because you are “senior proofing” your home doesn’t mean it has to look like an assisted living facility.
The best, and arguably most important, place to start is in the bathroom. This is also a room that accommodations can double as accessible and chic. For example, a lipless walk-in shower, also known as the European Wet Room, eliminates the need to step up which can result in tripping. But it also opens up the room to appear more spacious and allow natural lighting to reach every corner. When renovating choose dimensions that leave enough room for a wheelchair to enter.
You may also want to consider adding a built-in shower bench. This could be a seamless tiled addition styled like a window seat or a chic wooden seat that folds up and out of the way. Grab bars don’t need to be an eyesore either. There are so many options on the market for bars that integrate with your bathroom’s style instead of looking like an afterthought.
When house hunting for a new home, look for one-level open floor plans. Open floor plans are very on trend and a feature many buyers are looking for anyways. They come with the added bonus of having plenty of room for someone in a wheelchair or walker to get around. If a home you are looking at has any hallways measure them to make sure they are wide enough to be accessible for these kinds of mobility aids.
Choosing a home that is a one-floor plan is another subtle way you can “senior proof” your home. Stairs can become troublesome when mobility becomes limited due to arthritis for example. A lack of a staircase to climb also means never having to buy a chairlift down the line. Potentially saving your future self-money and the integrity of your home’s decor.
Whether you’re bringing home a new puppy or adopting an adult dog, your new 4-legged friend is sure to be a part of the family. Just as you would when bringing home a new baby, you’ll want to make preparations to your space for both you and your dog’s safety. You don’t want to overlook anything and then have you or your pet get hurt. As a rule of thumb: Anything that you would protect a baby from you should protect a dog from. These dangers include:
- Prescription medications
- Small parts that can be ingested
- Cleaning supplies
- Hazardous houseplants
- Steep stairways
Keep your furry friend healthy and save yourself from costly vet bills by taking precautions. Simple measures can make a big difference. Safety items that you can use to help protect both you and your pet are:
- Power strip covers
- Locks for cabinets
- Keep pills, candy, and chemicals on high shelves that can’t be reached
- Cord wranglers
These little devices can prevent your dog from chewing or getting into hazardous things. It’s also a good idea to protect dogs from steep falls on stairways and decks by blocking certain areas off. Since many dogs don’t know what to keep out of their snouts, you want to think like a dog and know that if they can chew it, they will!
Keep Your Dog Out Of The Trash
Dogs tend to like to see what they can find in the trash. If you get a trashcan that can’t be accessed by dogs, you won’t need to worry. A hidden trashcan in a cabinet or island can help to alleviate this problem. You can also get a can with a lid that can’t be easily popped off.
Keep The Dog’s Access To A Minimum
If your dog is home alone all day while you’re at work you may want to close doors or put up gates in order to restrict the dog to a certain area of the house. This way, the dog will know his place and won’t be able to cause any kind of damage.
Keep Clutter To A Minimum
Clutter is dangerous to both humans and dogs alike. If you know a dog is bound to chew things, put it away! Keeping floors and pathways clean also protects both you and your pet from tripping. Staying organized is also a positive for everyone in the house.
If you always think with safety in mind when you have a dog, you’ll keep both you and your pet safe in your home the whole year through.
If a seller is motivated and your offer is the only one that comes in on a home for sale, you may have an easy time getting the home of your dreams. If there are multiple offers on a property, it’s a different story.
If there’s competition, it’s simple math that your odds in favor of you getting the home are reduced. You need something that will grab the seller’s attention. Writing an offer letter can be just what you need to sway the decision in your direction. Even if your offer is less than what other people have put on the table, an offer letter is a perfect way to get the attention of the seller.
What To Include
You may wonder what you should include in an offer letter. You’re charming the sellers in a way, but also giving them an opportunity to get to know you. If someone has lived in a home that they have loved for a long time, they’ll be happier knowing the next occupants will be just as happy living on the property.
What Do You Like About The Property?
You should include a lot of positive things involving the property and your ability to care for and maintain it. Tell the seller about the features you most love about the house. You should let the seller know that they hard work they have done over the years has paid off and you appreciate it. Do you like the skylights? Does a remodeled kitchen get your attention? Is the deck a great feature for you to entertain on? Let the seller know any and everything that enticed you to put an offer on the property in the first place.
Share Some Of Your Life
You don’t have to get overly personal or mushy, but you should include a bit about yourself and why you chose this property among the many you have seen. Maybe you grew up in the neighborhood. Maybe the home is perfect for your expanding family. Whatever the reason is for you to want this particular house you need to let the seller know.
In addition to personal details, you can include a pre-qualification letter, demonstrating your ability to afford the home. This helps sellers to feel comfortable with your financial background and continued upkeep of the property.
What Not To Include
While your plans for a property may be grandiose in your mind, don’t tell a seller what you plan to do with the proeprty in your offer letter. It’s nice that you want to update the kitchen, or re-do the bathrooms. It’s an insult of sorts to the seller so just omit these items. Keep your offer letter positive and brief and you may be well on your way to securing the property of your dreams.
Once you buy a home, you realize that every penny of your budget matters. The initial purchase of a house can be financially overwhelming. You’ll be withdrawing thousands of dollars from your account to secure the home. Once you close on the house, it’s time to buckle down on your budget. Continue reading for some tips on how to do just that.
For most people, food spending is one of the biggest things that suck the life out of their budget. Whether you’re getting take out three times a week or spending massive amounts at the grocery store, it’s time to take a serious look at your food spending.
Shop With A Plan
If you head to the grocery store with a plan in mind, your shopping trip will be more successful and less expensive. Many people are unsure of what they have in their cabinets and fridge, let alone what to make for dinner. Make a list of meals to have for the week. Then, see what you need to complete those recipes in your kitchen and pantry. It’s also a good idea to stock your pantry with essentials when sales are going on.
Supermarket ads can also be incredibly useful. You might have to store hop on a weekly basis, but shopping with the sales can save you a lot of money in the long term.
Look At Your Credit Card Statements
Are you being charged for a monthly gym membership that you don’t ever make use of? You can do one of two things: Start going to the gym or cancel out your membership and begin a daily jogging routine. Look at your cable bill and any other monthly subscriptions that you have. See where you can cut back. Are premium movie channels a necessity? It’s easy to forget what we’re being charged for on a monthly basis if we don’t look at our bank and card statements.
Maybe in your life before becoming a homeowner, you went for a weekly massage or had a monthly housecleaning service. You can still have these luxuries, but they may need to be less often or less extensive. For example, a significant portion of time during maid service is spent loading the dishwasher or cleaning pots and pans. You can clean up after yourself and your family each night following dinner and cut back on the amount of time a maid would need to spend in your home. The cleaning person also now will have more time to spend on other things in the house that need attention.
You can keep your massage; it may just have to be bi-weekly or monthly. Get creative to still have the things you want in your budget without going overboard.