Why Get Pre-Qualified?

1. Pre-qualification acts as a dry run of the loan application process. The mortgage lender will use details you provide about your credit, income, assets and debts to arrive at an estimate of how much mortgage you can afford. The whole process may take only minutes or a few hours at most, and is free.

2. While a "pre-qual" is non-binding to the lender (because the information you provide has not been verified), it does serve as a good indication to potential sellers of your general creditworthiness.

3. These days most sellers will NOT accept an offer without at least a pre-approval letter, so if you are serious about buying this is the first step towards getting you in your new home.

7 Questions to Ask a Mortgage Lender to Make Sure You're Not Getting Screwed

7 Mortgage Questions to Ask a Lender

1. “What will the total housing payment be?”

It’s easy to focus on what your actual mortgage payment will be each month. But keep in mind that you’ll also have to pony up for things like property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and HOA fees. If you put down less than 20 percent on the home, you may also have to pay mortgage insurance premiums, which protect the lender against the risk that you’ll default on the loan. These all add up. 

“Know the full amount you’ll need to pay each month to ensure the home will be affordable and not get in the way of your other expenses and savings goals,” says Robertson. 

2. “What’s my rate and how long is it good for?”

Snagging a low interest mortgage rate helps reduce your monthly payment, giving you a little extra wiggle room in your budget. That means shopping around for lenders – and negotiating.

But Robertson says you should also ask how long the rate is good for (the lock period) and ensure it’s actually locked once you’re happy with the quote you receive. That way it won’t change, even if rates rise in the meantime.

3. “Do you charge any lender fees or points?”

Expect to pay a host of charges when you take out a mortgage, including title fees, loan processing fees, underwriting fees, and loan origination feesSome of these can be whittled down with a little negotiation. The loan origination fee, for example, is usually a percentage of the home sale price. For more expensive homes, the lender may be willing to take a smaller slice of the pie, knowing that they’ll still make a respectable profit. 

By law, the lender has to provide the “APR,” a version of the interest rate that includes some or all of these fees. Be sure to ask what’s included in their figure. That way, you can compare the APR for different loan options, accounting for any fees that are not rolled into it. 

Also check to see whether the lender is charging you any  prepaid interest, also known as “points.” Each point is equal to one percent of the home price. So paying two points on a $300,000 home means you have to fork over $6,000 at closing. Paying points will typically lower your interest rate, which is one reason it may look like you’re getting a great deal. Unless you take them into consideration, you’re not really doing an apples-to-apples comparison of different lenders.

Keep in mind that if you plan to stay in the home a long time, paying finance charges on the front-end may not be a bad idea. Otherwise, it’s probably better to steer clear. 

4. “What type of mortgage is best for me?”

While most lenders will assume you want a 30-year fixed, a good one should take the time to go over a number of different loan options. 

“It might turn out that a cheaper 5-year ARM is a better alternative if you don’t plan on keeping the home for very long, or if you expect to refinance in the near future once your financial situation improves,” says Robertson. “Or that a 15-year fixed is totally manageable and a better value for you as a homeowner.”


The bottom line: there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to mortgages. Tell the lender about your plans and have them give you the pros and cons of different products.  

5. “How much do I need to put down?”

A good lender will be able to provide with a variety of down payment options, depending on how much cash you have to put down. Before picking a mortgage, ask exactly how much you’ll need to pay upfront, including closing costs like appraisal and title fees, property taxes and points, if there are any.

Are you required to pay mortgage insurance based on your low down payment? If so, make sure you know how much that will tack on to your monthly bill – and potentially your closing costs, too. 

6. “Why do mortgages get declined?”

The lender offers you a great rate with a down payment you can actually afford. Everything’s looking great. The last thing you want is to find out that the bank or mortgage company decided to back away from your loan at the last minute. And yet it happens.

Robertson recommends asking why other loans tend to fail in order to avoid the same misfortune. “They might tell you because of credit, or a new job, or a lack of seasoned assets,” he says. “Knowing why mortgages don’t make it to the finish line could be key to getting yours to the funding table.”

7. “How long will the process take?”

When it comes to home buying, timing is of the essence. You’ll want to ensure that the lender you choose can not only close your loan, but do so by the closing date specified in the purchase agreement.

That might mean seeking out a mortgage originator with a record of efficiency. “Some lenders specialize in refinances, and may not be the best fit for a time-sensitive home purchase,” says Robertson. 

As with any huge purchase, you definitely want to shop around. Bounce your list of questions off multiple lenders so you can figure out who’s going to give you the best overall value, not just the lowest advertised rate. Considering how much money and heartache you could be saving, you’ll be glad you did a little homework going into the process. 

My clients have bragged about this lender

1. Allen John - https://www.grarate.com

We’re a partnership created between Realogy and Guaranteed Rate that provides the best mortgage experience possible, featuring incredibly low rates, fantastic customer service and a fast, simple process.

As a product of two industry giants, we can rely on Guaranteed Rate’s cutting-edge technology and proven platform while providing our knowledgeable, talented loan officers with unparalleled access to real estate agents.

But what really makes us different from other lenders? It starts with our commitment to putting you, the customer, first and prioritizing communication, service and results. Everything we do centers around this mentality.

Everyone wants a low rate, but we offer that and so much more. What shopper doesn’t want a variety of options? Searching for a home loan is no different. As a borrower, you want and deserve a mortgage that best fits your needs. A greater variety of loan products means a better chance of finding that solution.

Lastly, when buying a home, you want to get through the process with speed and ease. Our loan officers and their operations experts can make that happen. Simply put, we hold ourselves accountable. We understand how important buying a home is to you, which is why we provide real-time updates at key loan milestones to keep you informed every step of the way.


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