THE LOAN PRE-APPROVAL LETTER
A written pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender provides you with the leverage you need to obtain the very best price and terms. In a competitive situation, you gain an advantage with a strong pre-approval letter.
Pre-Approval is Different from Pre-Qualification. Pre-Approval means that you have made written loan application with documentation and it has been approved by the lender. Pre-Qualification means only that a conversation about your qualifications with the lender has taken place but nothing has been verified and no commitment has been made by the lender.
The Benefits of a Pre-Approval Letter:
- You gain significant advantages in negotiating by being prepared where other buyers may not be
- You prove to the seller that you are a very serious buyer who is ready to act
- You eliminate wasted time, frustration and stress
- You are pre-approved for your loan in advance — all “verifications” and contingencies are removed except for the appraisal and contract
- All you need to do is find the home you want and write an offer
- You know what your monthly payment will be
- You know how much cash you need to purchase your future home
Important to keep in mind: What you are qualified to pay versus what you are comfortable paying for a monthly mortgage payment may be two different numbers. You can often be approved for a much larger monthly payment than what you will actually be comfortable paying each month- this is something to discuss with your lender or your Realtor.
Requirements for Pre-Approval
There are several documents that may be required by the lender in order to issue a commitment or pre-approval letter.
- Employment – Name, address and phone numbers for employer(s).
Pay Stub – Most recent.
- Previous Employment – If you have been with your present employer for less than two years, need name, address, phone numbers.
- Other Income – Such as alimony, child support, disability, VA benefits, Social Security benefits, rental income. Evidence of receipt must be supplied.
- Authorization to Obtain Credit Report
- Current Mortgages – Name, address, account numbers, monthly payments and balances, including any recently paid-out accounts. If the property is to be rented or sold, provide lease or sales agreement.
- Charge Accounts – Name, account numbers, and balances.
- Other Loan Accounts – Personal, student loans, any installment type loan. Provide the name, address, account numbers, payments and balances.
- Auto Loans – Name, address, account numbers, monthly payments, balances.
- Other Liabilities – Alimony, child support, student loans, monthly payments.
- Self-Employment or Part Owner of a Company – Year-to-date profit and loss statement, complete personal and business tax returns and 1099’s for the past two years. Ownership is defined as 25% or more shares of stock in the company.
- Tax Returns – Needed for the past two years if overtime, commission, bonus or tip income is to be used for qualification purposes.
This list may look daunting at first glance, but many of these items are easily available with a quick trip to your lending institution and a look over your old tax forms. Your lender will help walk you through the document collection process.
Lender’s Commitment Letter
When your full loan application and documentation has been reviewed by the lender’s underwriter and approved, you will receive a commitment letter. Conditions for funding the loan after this lender commitment is made typically include:
- Title Search
INFORMATION FOR LOAN APPLICATION
Formal Loan Application:
- Contract for Sale – Ratified and with all addenda, a copy of the deposit check, a copy of the listing property data sheet.
- W-2 Forms – For the past two years.
- Checking and Savings Account – Name, address, account numbers and balances (provide at least 3 months of statements).
- Other Assets – Stocks, bonds, cash value of life insurance, vested interest in retirement plan, household and personal effects (approximate value).
- Landlord Information – If presently renting, name and address.
- Photo ID – Copy of your driver’s license is sufficient.
- VA Applicants – Certificate of Eligibility, DD-214 or Statement of Service, name, address, phone number of closest living relative.
ADDITIONAL BUYER’S COSTS
In addition to the amount of the loan, these are some costs that you should expect to pay.
Prior to closing
- Earnest Money: approximately 1% of the purchase price
- Home Inspection
- Survey (this cost is does not pertain to all home purchases)
- Down payment
- Lender fees
- HOA dues
- Home owners insurance
- Recording fees
*Some of these expenses might be negotiated to be paid by the seller at closing*
OBTAINING HOME-OWNERS INSURANCE
Obtaining hazard/homeowner’s insurance used to take a matter of minutes- now it can take days or even weeks. Insurance underwriters not only look at the claims history of the current homeowner and specific property; it is highly likely that they will also be evaluating your own claims history as well. Therefore, it is critically important to initiate the process of getting hazard insurance before we have even identified the home you wish to purchase. Getting started on this process is as important as getting your mortgage.
I strongly recommend that you call your current insurance company or insurance broker right away. If you do not have a preferred company, I will be happy to recommend several names.
Your lender requires that you keep the property insured against damage or destruction and name them as the co-insured. This is referred to as hazard insurance.
Homeowner’s Insurance is hazard insurance plus liability and contents coverage for the owner. Almost without exception, purchasers obtain Homeowner’s Insurance. Your policy must be paid for and a binder issued prior to settlement. Evidence of such must be delivered to the lender prior to funding the loan.
For Condominium Purchasers: The master policy covers the structure of the building on behalf of you and your lender and is paid for in your condo fees. However, this provides no liability and contents coverage for you, and no coverage if another unit is damaged by something that occurs within your unit. Please speak with your insurance agent to discuss adequate separate coverage for your personal belongings.