For first-time buyers, the mortgage process raises a lot of questions. In this article, we tackle some of the most common inquiries we receive from real-life customers. This is the first in a multi-part series. See here for part two.
– Question from Zak and Christina, Rochester, MI
Technically speaking, “A mortgage is a debt instrument secured by the collateral of specified real estate property, that the borrower is obliged to pay back with a predetermined set of payments.” (Investopedia.com)
What does that mean in plain English? It means, when you get a mortgage, you are (1) borrowing money from a lender and (2) committing yourself to paying back the money you borrowed in equal monthly payments for the length of the loan.
Because a house can be expensive, mortgage payments are usually spread over 15 or 30 years, making the cost affordable.
Your mortgage payment will consist of principal and interest portions. The principal portion goes toward reducing the amount of money you originally borrowed. The interest portion goes toward paying off the interest, which you can think of as the fee the lender charges to loan you money.
You can make additional payments, if you want, but at the least you need to make your minimum monthly payment each month.
“Most people could not afford to pay cash for a house. A mortgage makes home ownership affordable.”
– Renee Delia, Branch Manager,
Infinity Real Estate Group
– Question from Conor and Haley, Jackson, MI
Mortgage lenders offer a wide variety of loans designed to meet the needs of buyers. The most common types of loans obtained by first-time buyers are:
“MSHDA funds can be used on closing costs, insurance or property taxes, as well as the down payment itself.”
– Mike Archer, Branch Manager,
Mortgage 1 Jackson
–Question from Nathan and Mia, Macomb Township, MI
Different mortgage types have different specific qualification requirements, but the general process of qualifying for a mortgage is the same.
“We know the mortgage process can be confusing and stressful, that’s why we are here to help.”
– Diane Selvaggio, Branch Manager,
Mortgage 1 Clinton Township
–Question from Mark and Karly, Plymouth, MI
An important element of qualifying for a mortgage is your credit score. Your lender pulls a credit report to look at your credit score. Different loan types have different qualifying scores:
In addition to credit score, a lender looks at your debt-to-income ratio to make sure you are not overextended.
“The higher your credit score, the better your interest rate.”
– Harry Polemitis, Branch Manager,
Mortgage 1 Plymouth
–Question from Taylor and Sami, Clinton Township, MI
Being pre-qualified can be useful as an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on a home, but pre-approval is more valuable and authoritative. Pre-approval means the lender has checked your credit and verified the documentation and has essentially approved you for a specific loan amount.
To get pre-approved, you’ll need proof of assets and income, good credit, employment verification, along with other types of documentation the lender may require, depending on your loan type.
The lender will also need your driver’s license as well as your Social Security number and signature so they can pull a credit report.
“Pre-approval lets the seller know you won’t be denied a mortgage when you make an offer.”
– Deborah Meesseman, Branch Manager,
Mortgage 1 Clinton Township
–Question from Jake and Lexi, Sterling Heights, MI
To determine how much house you can afford, follow the 28/36 rule.
Many financial advisers agree that households should spend no more than 28 percent of their gross combined monthly income on housing expenses and no more than 36 percent on total debt. Total debt includes housing as well as things like student loans, car expenses, and credit card payments.
The 28/36 percent rule is the tried-and-true home affordability rule that establishes a baseline for what you can afford to pay each month.
To calculate how much 28 percent of your income is:
Do the same for the 36 percent rule, using 36 in place of 28 in the example above.
“When you own a home, there are other costs like taxes and maintenance. The 28/36 rule makes sure you can afford them.”
– John Leach, Branch Manager,
Mortgage 1 Lakeside
Come back next week for part two of this article. In the meantime, if you have questions, let us know. At Mortgage 1, we specialize in helping first-time buyers understand the mortgage process. We are repeatedly recognized as Michigan’s leading lender for first-time buyers.
Call us at 1-866-532-0550 or locate a Mortgage 1 loan officer near you to get the process started.