Here are some mortgage tips for first-time buyers, including:
- Know your credit score. The credit score can be a big key to knowing how much buyers can afford and how much interest they’ll be paying. Home shoppers should be encouraged to check their credit report and FICO score before even starting the homebuying process.
- Estimate how much can be borrowed. Lenders generally don’t like to see a monthly housing payment—one that includes taxes and insurances—that’s more than 28 percent of a pretax income. The percentage threshold often cited for total debt—which includes the mortgage payment—is then no more than 36 percent. Some lenders will offer differing percentages but these are the most commonly used.
- Gather the docs. Buyers will need documents showing their income, employment situation, identity, and more when applying for a mortgage. Encourage them to start collecting their latest tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, pay stubs, W-2s, Social Security card, marriage license (if applicable), and contact numbers for their employer’s HR department.
- Get pre-approved. A preapproval is similar to a full mortgage approval and can be submitted with an offer on a home. It shows the seller the seriousness of the buyer, who has already secured financing to purchase the house.
- Add up closing costs. Closing costs generally range from 2 to 3 percent of a mortgage principal amount. Make sure your buyers factor in closing costs to their overall homebuying budget.