MORE GENERAL FINANCING QUESTIONS
WHAT IS AN ESCROW ACCOUNT? DO I NEED ONE?
Established by your lender, an escrow account is a place to set aside a portion of your monthly mortgage payment to cover annual charges for homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance (if applicable), and property taxes. Escrow accounts are a good idea because they assure money will always be available for these payments. If you use an escrow account to pay property tax or homeowner’s insurance, make sure you are not penalized for late payments since it is the lender’s responsibility to make those payments.
WHAT STEPS NEED TO BE TAKEN TO SECURE A LOAN?
The first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application. To do so, you’ll need the following information.
• Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months
• W-2 forms for the past 2 years
• Information on long-term debts
• Recent bank statements tax returns for the past 2 years
• Proof of any other income
• Address and description of the property you wish to buy
• Sales contract
During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.
HOW DO I CHOOSE THE RIGHT LENDER FOR ME?
Choose your lender carefully. Look for financial stability and a reputation for customer satisfaction. Be sure to choose a company that gives helpful advice and that makes you feel comfortable. A lender that has the authority to approve and process your loan locally is preferable, since it will be easier for you to monitor the status of your application and ask questions. Plus, it’s beneficial when the lender knows home values and conditions in the local area. Do research and ask family, friends, and your real estate agent for recommendations.
HOW ARE PRE-QUALIFYING AND PRE-APPROVAL DIFFERENT?
Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘prequalified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts, and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.
Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling the financial records mentioned in Question 47 (Without the property description and sales contract) and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT INFORMATION ABOUT MY CREDIT HISTORY?
There are three major credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Obtaining your credit report is as easy as calling and requesting one. Once you receive the report, it’s important to verify its accuracy. Double check the “high credit limit,”‘total loan,” and ‘past due” columns. It’s a good idea to get copies from all three companies to assure there are no mistakes since any of the three could be providing a report to your lender. Fees, ranging from $5-$20, are usually charged to issue credit reports but some states permit citizens to acquire a free one. Contact the reporting companies at the numbers listed for more information.
CREDIT REPORTING COMPANIES
Trans Union 1-800-916-8800
WHAT IF I FIND A MISTAKE IN MY CREDIT HISTORY?
Simple mistakes are easily corrected by writing to the reporting company, pointing out the error, and providing proof of the mistake. You can also request to have your own comments added to explain problems. For example, if you made a payment late due to illness, explain that for the record. Lenders are usually understanding about legitimate problems.
Source: www.hud.gov. For more information or an appointment with a HUD-certified counselor, contact the Southeast Community Development Corporation at 410-342-3234 www.southeastcdc.org.