The American Dream of owning a home is alive and well. And while it’s true that some of the rules for getting a mortgage loan have recently changed, every month thousands of families enjoy the excitement and extraordinary pride of becoming a homeowner – whether again or for the first time.
And you just might be one of them – if you play your cards right. (Your “credit cards,” that is.) Because homebuyers who plan ahead can take steps to improve the odds that their application receives the coveted “Your Loan Is Approved!” stamp. (Instead of that nasty alternative.)
Of course, lenders will still be looking at your finances to reach that final determination. But by making changes today in your spending behavior, you can make a huge impact on your future home-buying opportunities. It might not happen as quickly as tomorrow, but continually making small improvements and heading in the right direction with your credit and debt will make a difference to your lender.
According to Rick Piette, owner of Premier Mortgage Lending in Las Vegas, Nevada, “There are three key areas that those planning to buy a home in the near future should concentrate on immediately. These are: your credit history, how you handle your debt, and making the effort to educate yourself about mortgage loans.”
Having a Poor Credit Score and Credit History
Getting your credit in order is vital – because poor credit can mean you’ll pay more for that mortgage you get. Or worse yet – your application could be denied because your credit score is too low.
There’s no doubt about it, in this day and age, good credit makes the rules. In fact, it’s been calculated that over a lifetime, a person with poor credit could end up paying nearly $200,000 more for the same purchases over someone with good credit – simply due to the differences in costs and interest charges.
But even if life has thrown you some curve balls (such as, oh, maybe a Great Recession) – if you take calculated steps to get back on track with your money, it will begin to show up on your credit report and score with steady improvement. These include:
• If you have any collections or judgments against you, paying them off as quickly as possible.
• Bringing your over-the-limit and past-due accounts up-to-date.
• Paying all your bills on time.
• Reducing your credit card debt to 25% or less of your credit line on each card.
• Not opening new lines of credit.
• Not closing any credit card accounts, because then you’ll be using a higher percentage of your overall credit limit.
If your credit has hit some bumps, it’s always wise to speak with a mortgage lender about your situation before shopping for a home. A reputable firm will be happy to recommend specific actions you can take with regard to your personal credit status – such as which cards to pay off if you can, and in what order to tackle your debt reduction. They can also help you understand the different type of loan programs available to you and what credit scores you will need to achieve for them.
In short – if buying a home is on your list of Things-To-Do now or in the future, get your credit checked, speak with a lender, and then take the right action to start improving it now.
Carrying Too Much Monthly Debt
Your Income + Too Much Debt = No Home For You.
Debt-to-Income Ratio – that’s an important thing to know about when you’re planning to buy a home. (That’s your monthly income divided by your monthly debt payments.) And if those percentages aren’t right, your loan can be denied.
How to fix it?
“Obviously, you want to reduce your debt,” confirms Rick Piette. “Unless you’ve hit the lottery, this probably isn’t going to happen overnight. But by formulating a plan of how to attack your debt- in ways that will make the most difference to your ratios – you can begin to turn these figures around.”
“However, as Michael F. Kay explains in his recent Forbes column, Digging Yourself Out of Debt – without changing how you think of debt, the odds are you’re not going to change your spending habits. (The old maxim really does apply here: If nothing changes, nothing changes.)”
In many cases, that mindset can be altered simply by changing what you focus on before making a purchase. Instead of concentrating on momentary gratification (as in, “The Super Bowl is going to look great on this 55-inch television!”) – think about how you’re going to feel when the bill arrives. In truth, it really can be as simple as that. When it comes to money, many people need to shift their perceptions about how society has conditioned us to behave.
“Kay goes on to offer several other techniques that help to re-train our thoughts on how we spend money,” adds Piette. “Reminding yourself of the long-term goals you’ve set and asking whether an expenditure will help or hinder your ability to achieve them is one. Kay recommends ‘visualizing’ where you want to be (in a home of your own and building wealth) vs. where you don’t want to be (renting an apartment and paying huge credit card bills each month).
You’re Not Asking The Right People The Right Questions
“You don’t know if you’re able to qualify for a mortgage, so keep that to yourself and don’t make any inquiries.”
If you have dreams of owning a home someday, then take your questions to a professional – whether it’s a Realtor, mortgage lender, or another industry expert. Even if you’ve never bought a home before, or you’ve lost your home to foreclosure or short sale – don’t simply assume that you’re not qualified to get a mortgage. Remember: Every person’s financial situation is unique, and because of differing circumstances – what was a complication for one person may not affect someone else.
“This is one of the most common problems we run into, and it’s really a shame,” reports Piette. “Because more people are qualified now to get a mortgage loan than they realize. As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, studies show that over half the people who want to buy a home never even ask if they’ll qualify for a loan simply out of fear the answer will be “no. ” And a large percentage of those people actually are able to qualify.
“What’s important to remember, though, is that even if the answer is “no” right now – by taking an active role to improve your credit and financial stability, you’ll have the opportunity to change that to a “yes,” – and in many cases, not too far down the road.
“At Premier Mortgage, we believe it’s so important for people to know the right questions to ask about getting a mortgage loan, we created an educational series known as “Home Loans 101” to help take the mystery out of mortgages. It helps buyers understand what to ask, and gives them the chance to compare lenders equally.
“A common misconception we run into is that people often think the cost of getting a mortgage loan is the same with any lender – and that is not at all true. There’s a difference between Banks, Mortgage Bankers, and Mortgage Lenders – and unless buyers shop around for the best deal, they can end up paying thousands of dollars too much for their mortgage loan. Those costs alone can make the difference in receiving a loan approval – or a loan denial.
“That’s why buyers need to discover the facts for themselves. Just as different people have different financial circumstances, different lenders will have different loan programs. Some of those programs can price you out of being able to buy a home,” Piette confirms. “But at Premier Mortgage – home of the true “No Fee” loan – we’re making it possible every day for Las Vegans to get into a home of their own. That could include you, too. What do you have to lose by asking?”
Premier Mortgage Lending, NMLS #393282, is located at 701 N. Green Valley Pkwy., Suite 125, Henderson, 89074. The full-service lender is a member of the Las Vegas and Boulder City Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau and Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, as well as an affiliate member of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors.