3 Ways Home Buyers Can Position Themselves for the Best Mortgage Terms

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The perfect home is not the only thing you’ll need to shop for when you want to become a homeowner. In order to get the best terms, the lowest monthly payment and a reasonable interest rate, start doing some homework now — before you even attend your first open house. 

1. Check Your Credit Score

Checking your credit score should be the first thing you do when you’re considering the purchase of a home. Why? Because every lender you speak to will use it as a benchmark for determining the likelihood of you being able to pay off the debt. The better your credit score, the more favorable terms and interest rates a lender might offer you. The earlier you know your credit score, the more time you have to address any issues that might be contained in it. Remember, you’re entitled to one free credit report from each of the three reporting agencies each year. Take advantage of this service and keep tabs on your credit score. 

2. Have Steady Employment 

Being able to demonstrate that you are gainfully employed will go a long way toward qualifying for a mortgage loan and being offered attractive interest rates. Aim for at least two years of unbroken employment. Be ready to back up your claims regarding the duration of your employment and the dollar amounts you bring home. 

3. Offer a Sizable Down Payment 

Come to the negotiating table with a lender and with a solid down payment, you’ll be able to enjoy lower monthly payments. There’s no fast rule regarding the amount of a down payment. That being said, most lenders like you to have at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price as the down payment. There are some lenders, however, who accept less than 20 percent. If your lender accepts down payments that are less than the standard 20 percent, expect to have to purchase private mortgage insurance. This can be anywhere from .05 percent to 1 percent. 

4. Know Your Debt To Income Ratio

The debt to income ratio demonstrates your ability to pay off the mortgage as agreed upon. Most lenders like to see that your monthly debt payments are equal to or less than 43 percent of your gross monthly income. 

In a seller’s market, there might be several people vying for the same home. Addressing the items above can make you look more attractive compared to some of the other potential home buyers. 

Preparing For Your First Mortgage Application

Applying for your first home loan can seem scary or daunting to many first-time homeowners. However, this process, if done correctly, can save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on interest over the lifetime of your loan.

Before you apply for a loan, there are several documents you’ll want to gather and steps you’ll want to take to ensure the application process goes smoothly. In today’s post, we’ll talk about one specific aspect of the mortgage application process–credit scores.

Credit scores may seem confusing. However, since they can so drastically affect your home loan interest rate, it’s important to understand their implications.

Credit checks and mortgages

One of the things that all lenders will want to see before approving you for a home loan is your credit score. If you’re thinking of applying for a mortgage, odds are that you’ve been working to build credit by paying off loans and credit cards on time each month.

The three main credit bureaus in the U.S. are all required to give you a yearly free credit report. This is a detailed document that outlines your lines of credit, payment dates, and amounts. It’s a good idea to get a detailed credit report and check for errors before applying for a loan.

Unlike a hard “credit inquiry,” a free report does not affect your credit score, so you don’t have to worry about dropping a few points by requesting one of these reports.

When applying for a mortgage, however, lenders will perform a hard credit inquiry to determine your borrowing eligibility. This is a part of the pre-approval process and is typically unavoidable.

This is important to note if you are planning on applying to multiple lenders. Be aware that each “prequalification” and “preapproval” may come with a temporary drop in your credit score.

Since credit inquiries make up a total of about 10% of your credit score, these inquiries can make a difference in the short term. For this reason, it’s a good idea to avoid opening new cards or taking out other loans (such as an auto loan or student loan) within six months of your mortgage application.

If you aren’t sure of your current score, you can always check for free from websites like Credit Karma and Mint.

One last thing to note about credit scores and their relationship to mortgages is that most lenders use a specific type of score known as a FICO score. In fact, every adult in the United States with a credit score will have three FICO scores, one from each major credit bureau.

So, when checking up on your credit score, it’s good to remember that each score will be slightly different and your lender’s score may not reflect what you see online.

How You Ruin Your Credit Without Realizing It

You know that your credit score is incredibly important when you want to buy a home. There’s certain things that you could be doing in your everyday life that are hurting your credit score. Here’s what you need to avoid in order to keep your credit score up:

Don’t Allow For Too Many Credit Inquiries


When you’re at the checkout lane at the store, and the clerk informs you that you can save a lot of money if you just open this instant credit card on the spot, that can pose a problem. The issue with this is that the store will be instantly checking your credit score as well. These inquiries hang on your credit report for a certain amount of time. Certain inquiries can also make your score dip. Too many credit inquiries can make lenders suspicious of your ability to be a dependable borrower.

Unpaid Bills Can Add Up

If you forget to pay small credit card bills here and there, it could add up. Think of things like library books, medical bills, and credit card payments. That unreturned library fee that you never paid could come back to haunt you. A medical bill that was sent to collections can become a problem on your credit report. Most of the time, all you need to do is pay these fees up for your score to bounce back. 

Credit Report Errors

Your credit report could have incorrect information about your financial situation and records. Your credit score could be dragged down just because of some errors on the report. If you do find an error on your report, you’ll be able to submit a claim to rectify the error. 

Using Too Much Of Your Available Credit

Just because a credit limit is at $5,000, doesn’t mean that you need to max it out. Even if you pay your bills each month, using too much of your available credit can really harm your score. For your credit score to be calculated and to see how loan worthy you are, your total available credit and how much of that total credit is being used will be put into a formula. Beware of how much of your credit you use in order to keep that score up.

Not Touching Your Credit

You actually need to use your credit in order to build your score. You need credit history in order to have something for loan officers to work with. Accounts that become inactive over time will be closed by default and actually negatively impact your score. 

By using your credit responsibly, you’ll keep your credit score up and be in good shape to buy a house.

Credit Card Dos

Credit cards can be a great source of safety and  convenience but they can also be trouble. Buy now and pay later can have serious consequences and lead to financial trouble.

So in order to stay financially fit it is important to use your credit cards wisely. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your credit cards:

• This seems simple but pay off your balance every month in full.  Interest charges on your credit card purchases can add up fast.

• If you do carry a balance, pay back as much as you can as quickly as possible. You don’t have to wait until the payment due date.

• Avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash or transfer money. Interest is charged on these transactions immediately.

• If you are considering a card with an annual fee, be sure that whatever reward or benefit you’re getting is worth the cost.

Bottom line stay within your budget. Only use credit cards for things you can afford. If you can’t afford it don’t buy it. You will be much happier without the new sweater when you have enough money to buy a new home.