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Down Payment First-time Homebuyer Homebuying Mortgages Pre-approval Purchase

Upfront Underwriting: A Better Way to Pre-approval

Getting approved for a mortgage without knowing which home you want to purchase might seem like a pipe dream. But MortgageRight is in the business of making the impossible a reality! Let’s look at how an underwritten pre-approval will allow you to get conditionally approved for a mortgage even if a home hasn’t caught your eye yet. 

How Does It Work?

Upfront underwritingalso known as To-Be-Determined (TBD) Pre-approval, is a method that sends the necessary information to an underwriter at the beginning of the mortgage process instead of at the end. This way, a lender can give you conditional approval of a dollar amount before you have a house picked out.  

Which Documents Will Be Reviewed?

Much like traditional loan underwriting, the upfront underwriting process requires documentation that supports your financial stability to ensure a successful pre-approval. To verify your eligibility, an underwriter will review the following:

  • Past two years of W-2s
  • Most recent pay stubs
  • Past two years of tax returns
  • Credit report
  • Other asset documentation
Underwritten Pre-approval vs. Pre-qualification 

The most notable difference between a true pre-approval and pre-qualification is underwriting review. If you opt for pre-qualification, you must submit income, asset, and credit-related information that will initially land in the hands of your mortgage loan originator. At that point, your mortgage loan originator will review the information and determine which loan programs and amounts you could be qualified for on your home purchase. Because pre-qualification does not involve an underwriter reviewing your information at the onset, loan circumstances are subject to change as you move through the home-buying process.

On the other hand, our Underwritten Pre-approval Program allows for upfront underwriting and faster issuance of a conditional approval of a loan amount. That is why an underwritten pre-approval is so valuable. Instead of having an underwriter review your information later in the process, it is sent directly to them. This way, you can get a well-founded assurance about which loan program and maximum loan amount you can use to purchase the home of your dreams. 

What Are the Other Advantages of Underwritten Pre-approval?

One of the greatest advantages of underwritten pre-approval is securing an upfront review and verification of your credit, income, assets, and loan application by an underwriter before you decide on your perfect home. It’s a great way to get ahead of the game, understand your budget, and start shopping with certainty.

An underwritten pre-approval is the ticket to peace of mind because it drastically reduces surprises on your way to the closing table. Plus, an underwriter’s stamp of approval gives realtors and sellers confidence that issues with your mortgage loan are unlikely, which earns you more negotiating power over other potential buyers when you finally find the house you want. 

Is an Underwritten Pre-approval RIGHT for You?

Many homebuyers can benefit from getting pre-approved at the beginning of the home-buying process. Think the underwritten pre-approval route is RIGHT for you? Contact us here, and we’ll get you into a new home in no time!

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First-time Homebuyer Homebuying Homebuying Tips Loans Market Analysis Mortgages Pre-approval Purchase

Top 3 Ways Remote Work Is Changing Homebuying

Throughout history, our home spaces have evolved alongside our workplaces. And as telecommunication and global connection continue to thrive, more people than ever are dropping the commute and firing up their laptops to put in a good day’s work. But what does this change in the workplace mean for up-in-coming homebuyers entering the housing market? Let’s find out! 

How remote work is changing home-buying behavior

When searching for the perfect home, the commute to work has been an integral part of most homebuyers’ decision-making process, and that remains true in today’s home-buying landscape. A 2021 study done by Realtor.com provides insight into homebuyers’ willingness to trade in longer commute times for more affordable homes in more desirable areas.

But with the emergence of remote work across the nation, the “this-for-that” mentality has less influence on homebuyers. Homebuyers that originally struggled to find homes that fit both their price point and desired commute time now have the opportunity to be more flexible because:

  • Majority of recent homebuyers (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X) prefer remote work.
  • About four-in-ten recent homebuyers work remotely due to pre- and post-pandemic conditions.
  • Younger workers are driving real estate markets.
  • Close to half of recent homebuyers report companies embracing remote work.

This is great news for homebuyers who want to forgo city living altogether while maintaining their current job. If you’ve had your eyes set on a suburban or rural area, the freedom that remote work provides (and the benefits of a USDA loan) can help you snag the home of your dreams.

More first-time buyers are entering the market

The influx of remote work is also helping individuals who could not otherwise purchase a home enter the housing market. According to Zillow, remote work could open the door to homeownership for nearly two million renters to buy starter homes in less expensive areas outside of the cities they work in. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association explains how this reshaping of the housing market could take place. More than 10% of renters who may have struggled to afford a home within the city limits of San Francisco could afford a home within the metro area (but beyond an acceptable 5-day-per-week commuting distance). With current interest rates at an all-time low and the ability to move out of high cost-of-living areas, current renters who work remotely have more opportunities than ever to become homeowners.

In-home requirements are more specific

The areas people choose to live in aren’t the only thing changing with the rise of remote work. There is also a noticeable shift in what homebuyers are looking for in their homes. 

Having a dedicated office space is a top priority for homebuyers working remotely. Homes with an extra bedroom, a finished attic or basement, or designated office space are beginning to overshadow previously sought-after amenities. Home theatres and gyms are losing their luster in this new era of home buying because the more time buyers spend working at home, the more willing they are to reap the benefits of an in-home experience from a public place. 

Need a New Home to Work From?

No matter where you get your work done, any time is the RIGHT time to start your home-buying journey. If remote work has become a permanent part of your life, you don’t want to miss out on buying the perfect home for your needs. Re-invent what home looks like for you by getting a quote or pre-approval letter today

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First-time Homebuyer Homebuying Loans Mortgages Pre-approval Purchase

USDA Loans: How to Break the Big-City Blues with a Rural Relocation

With the increase in housing prices and the decrease in peace of mind, now, more than ever, rural residential living is taking precedence over living in metropolitan areas. If your sights aren’t set on settling down in the big city, the USDA loan may be the perfect mortgage option to help you purchase your dream home! 

What is a USDA loan & how do I qualify for one?

A USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) loan is a government-backed loan that allows lenders to offer borrowers lower rates and no down payment. This loan aims to boost rural economies and build a better quality of life for rural communities across the nation. The USDA makes this possible by creating a more affordable option for families looking to buy a new home. 

The process of getting a USDA loan is not much different from other loans on the market, but there are some requirements you need to be aware of:

  • The USDA must approve the lender.
  • With a USDA loan, an appraisal is not only required to determine the fair market value of the home, but it must adhere to additional guidelines stipulated by the USDA. 
  • You will only be allowed to purchase homes in a specified area using a USDA loan. 
  • Approval for a USDA loan may take a little longer because you have to be approved by both your lender and the USDA.
What homes can I purchase with a USDA loan?
Acceptable property types

To be approved for a USDA loan, the property you’re seeking to purchase must serve as your primary residence. This means that it cannot be a farm, a vacation home, a secondary home (or one you intend to rent out), or an investment property. 

Note: If the property you intend to purchase is a primary residence, it can have an “income-producing” building (e.g., a barn or a silo) as long as it is not used for commercial purposes. 

Appraisal requirements

When trying to secure a USDA home loan, certain criteria must be met when it’s time for an appraisal. These include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Home must be built on a structurally sound foundation
  • Quality roofing 
  • Must be easily accessed from a road
  • Functional electrical & plumbing systems
  • Functional heating & cooling systems

There is a multitude of home types you can purchase using a USDA loan. Townhouses, condos, newly constructed homes, preexisting homes, and manufactured homes are viable options as long as they meet the previously mentioned requirements. 

Find the home of your dreams
Pre-approval first

Now that you have a better understanding of what type of home qualifies for a USDA loan, you might think you’re ready to start home-hunting. But it’s always better to begin searching for a home after you have been preapproved. Pre-approval will give you a clearer understanding of the type of home you can afford and the budgeting choices you may need to make. 

Location matters

Once you’re preapproved, it will be easier to search for that home you just can’t live without. And when you find it, you need to be sure that it is located in a USDA-approved area. Generally, these are homes in communities with smaller population centers outside of a city or other metropolitan areas. Some suburbs may qualify as well.

Think you might have trouble determining which areas are approved? Well, the USDA property eligibility map makes the process easy. Simply type in the property address, and the map will show you whether the desired location is approved. The map also provides insight into surrounding areas that may or may not be USDA-approved. If your first choice doesn’t fit the USDA’s location criteria, a home in the surrounding area may qualify. 

Note: Even if you have taken all the necessary steps when choosing your perfect home, the USDA Rural Development department has the final say in determining the property’s eligibility upon receiving your application.

Applying for a USDA loan 

You’ll need to apply with a USDA-approved lender to purchase a home with a USDA loan, and MortgageRight is here to help make that purchase a possibility. We will work in conjunction with the Rural Development department, guiding you through the entire application process and getting you closer to having those keys in hand. 

The RIGHT USDA Lender

Ready to make a rural community your home? We can help you secure the USDA loan you need. Click here to get started. 

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First-time Homebuyer Homebuying Homebuying Tips Mortgages Pre-approval

Pre-qualification vs. Pre-approval: What’s The Difference?

The mortgage process is filled with systems and terminology that the average homebuyer may not be familiar with. While preparing to apply for a mortgage, you may encounter the terms pre-approval and pre-qualification for the first time, and it is vital that you understand the individual role each of them plays in your home search. 

Pre-qualification: What does it mean?

Pre-qualification is an initial step in the mortgage-seeking process. It typically involves describing your credit, debt, income, and asset situation to a prospective lender. After reviewing the information, the lender will give you an estimated loan amount you can expect to receive. 

Most lenders (including MortgageRight) are flexible when it comes to this part of the mortgage process and will give the option to complete it over the phone, online, or in person. 

Though pre-qualification is not a requirement when applying for a mortgage, it’s an exercise in helping you understand your financial fitness regarding a mortgage. It’s also the perfect time to learn more about the different mortgage options available. 

Pre-approval: What does it mean?

Much like the pre-qualification process, you will need to provide your lender with information regarding your financial history and stability. The difference here is that financial documents are required and will serve as proof of your mortgage readiness.

Here’s a list of commonly requested documentation:

  • W-2s (a current pay stub)
  • A summary of your assets 
  • Your total monthly expenses
  • A copy of your mortgage statement and home insurance policy if you already own real estate

After assessing the documentation, verifying your financial fitness, and running your data through an automated underwriting system, your lender will send you a pre-approval letter. This letter details the amount, type, and terms of the mortgage loan your lender is willing to offer. 

While a pre-approval offer is not a guarantee, it does act as proof of your commitment to buying a home and can give you leverage in a competitive market. 

Choose What’s Best for You

Whether you’re unsure about your financial standing when it comes to getting a mortgage or you’re ready to move on to pre-approval, MortgageRight can help you every step of the way. Call us at (205) 776-8401 to discuss the next steps in pre-qualification or get pre-approved today!

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Budgeting Down Payment First-time Homebuyer Homebuying Homebuying Tips Mortgages Pre-approval Purchase Self-Employed

How to Get a Mortgage if You’re Self-Employed

You’ve finally put some action behind the go-getter title your friends gave you and started a successful business. Now you’re looking for the perfect place to wind down after putting in the work. But as a self-employed individual, are there extra hoops you’ll need to jump through to buy your new home? Let’s find out. 

Does Being Self-Employed Make it Harder to Get a Mortgage?

The answer depends on what you consider harder. The biggest difference between a self-employed and an otherwise employed person is the documentation a lender may request to increase your chances of approval. 

When applying for a mortgage while self-employed, you need to be realistic about your income and what you can afford, prepared to submit more paperwork, and willing to pay constant attention to detail. 

Understanding Your Unique Self-Employed Situation

When assessing a self-employed borrower, most lenders will want to have a good understanding of the nature and location of your business, your business’ financial viability when it comes to current and future income generation, and your personal income stability.  

Employment Verification

Employment verification is the first step in proving you are successfully self-employed. Documents verifying self-employment status can include written communication from the following:

  • Current (and past) clients indicating services performed
  • A letter from your licensed CPA, or tax preparer
  • A professional organization that can attest to your membership
  • Any state or business license that you hold
  • Evidence of worker compensation and insurance for your business
  • A Doing Business As (DBA) issued at least 2 years prior to your application date

Income Documentation

You’re much more likely to be approved for a mortgage if you can provide proof of a steady income. You may think you only need a few tax documents to breeze through the income verification portion of the approval process, but there have been recent changes in requirements, and you need to be prepared.

In June 2020, mortgage organizations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac instated specific income verification practices for self-employed borrowers. According to a bulletin posted by the organizations, “the mortgage file must include a written analysis of the self-employed income amount and justification of the determination that the income used to qualify the borrower is stable.”

Because of these new stipulations, your lender will now ask for the following to verify your income:

  • 2 years of personal tax returns (this includes W-2s if you’re paid through your corporation)
  • An unaudited year-to-date (YTD) profit and loss statement that is signed by the borrower and reports business revenue (i.e., gross receipts or sales), expenses, and net income                      Note: The statement must cover the most recent month preceding the application received date.
  • 3 months business account statements no older than the latest two months represented on the YTD profit and loss statement                                                                                                                Note: Personal asset account statements evidencing business deposits and expenses may be used when the borrower owns a small business and does not have a separate business account.
The Road to Approval

Documentation is not the only thing you should consider when it’s time to submit your mortgage application. The road to approval may be clear of speedbumps if you have these four segments of your financial portfolio in order.

Credit Score

If there’s one thing self-employed mortgage applicants share with every other applicant out there, it’s what lenders will view as an acceptable credit score. 

Lenders look to your credit score for information on your debt repayment history, and a better score may equal more favorable loan terms, so be sure to keep your credit score as high as possible at all times.

Debt-To-Income-Ratio 

When it comes to getting a mortgage while self-employed, underwriters look at your existing debts instead of your income. This is how your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is calculated.

Your DTI is a measurement of your income against your recurring debts, and it determines how much money you have available for potential monthly mortgage payments. 

DTI may hold more weight for self-employed borrowers because lenders might view tax write-offs as lowered income. This could result in existing debts becoming a larger share of your approved budget. 

If your DTI is 50% or higher, it may be wise to pay some current debts down before you apply for a mortgage. 

Down Payment

Your lender will also require proof that you have the funds for a down payment, miscellaneous fees, and enough funds to cover the initial monthly mortgage payments. 

This is why having a thorough understanding of your financial situation is so important. If you know that you will not be able to afford these expenses or you’re not willing to make the necessary financial adjustments, you should hold off on applying for a mortgage.

Separate Personal & Business Expenses

People who own businesses tend to intermingle business and personal debts, but this can backfire on those seeking a mortgage. The increase in credit usage may hurt your mortgage application if you charge business purchases, such as office phones or other supplies, to your personal cards or accounts.  

Keeping your business and personal accounts separate will more accurately reflect your financial profile (and increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage). 

Ready to Be a Self-Employed Homeowner?

Landing a mortgage while self-employed doesn’t have to be difficult! All you need is the RIGHT information and the RIGHT preparation to become a homeowner. Think you’re ready to take the next home-buying step? Click here to get started. 

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Budgeting Down Payment First-time Homebuyer Homebuying Homebuying Tips Mortgages Pre-approval Purchase

Cease Your Lease: Advantages of Buying a Home

Owning a home has been a rite of passage for generations, but in recent years, one obstacle has kept people from their home-buying goals—rent. While many have broken free from the leash of a lease, one group still clings to the world of renting.

Millennials: Stuck in The Rent Ring

For the millennial generation (those born between 1981 – 1996), rent is an ever-present—and often welcome—expense. According to data from the Pew Research Center, more millennials choose to rent over buying a home compared to generations prior. Several factors play into many millennials’ decision to continue renting. Past economic decline, postponement of marriage, the housing bubble, and freedom to apartment hop have all lead millennials to stick with their landlords. But as the housing market continues to improve, millennials need to know that the American Dream of owning their own home is still within reach. 

Top 3 Reasons to Buy vs. Rent 

1). Owning a home will benefit you in the long run

Renting your home (or apartment) means shelling out income to a landlord and putting nothing toward an investment you own. Buying a home trumps renting because it can result in financial gain in the future. When you buy a home with a 30-year mortgage and make the required payments, you will come out owning your home, and money will stop coming out of your pockets. However, if you rent a property, you will have nothing to show for all the time and money you put toward paying your rent. 

2). Boosted equity as property values rise

Rising home values are the name of the game (and are expected to be on the ups for the foreseeable future), which makes homeownership a profitable long-term investment. According to Zillow, the average U.S. home price has increased 13.2% from May 2020 to 2021—a record rise since the company began aggregating housing data in 1996. 

This increase in property values is critical when deciding to buy versus rent because owning a home can result in a significant return if your home is sold at a higher value than it is purchased. And, with each monthly mortgage payment, you boost the amount of equity—a tangible growth in your home value that you can borrow against—you have in your home. 

3). Avoid constant rent increases

Though the amount may be unpredictable, one thing is for sure, your rent is going to rise (likely every year). With steadily rising rent comes constant budget changes and potential overpayment for a property that does not live up to its price tag in living conditions. Sound like a nightmare? Well, with a fixed-rate mortgage, you will always pay the same amount each month on a home you own, and you can’t be kicked out by a landlord!

*The Principal and Interest payment remains the same on a fixed-rate mortgage. Typically, only the escrow portion of the payment (insurance and property tax amount) increases. 

Breaking the Cycle: Letting Go of Beliefs That Keep You with a Lease

Bright lights can bog you down

We get it—the lure of living in the big city is strong for millennials, but a large metropolitan area could only offer you sky-high rent prices (as opposed to a fixed-rate home with a backyard). If those city lights are beginning to blind you, consider moving to a more rural area just outside and landing a home that suits you with a USDA loan

Don’t let debt stop you from getting a house with a deck

Student loan debt is a massive concern for many who want to leave renter life behind, but being debt-free isn’t a requirement when buying a home or qualifying for a mortgage. Lenders do consider your current debt, including any associated with student loans, but only to determine your DTI (Debt-to-Income Ratio). Your DTI is simply a measurement of your income against recurring debts, and lenders look to it to decide whether you will be in a financial position to make payments on a possible mortgage. The more debt you have, the more likely you are to fall behind on your payments. But don’t lose hope—lenders have varying options when it comes to DTI ratios. 

*Most lenders prefer a potential borrower’s DTI to be about 35% or lower during the approval process. 

Tie the knot after finding your way home

In a report about millennial home-buying trends, Bank of America states, “Life events such as getting married or having children are typical triggers to buying a home. The longer this age group lives with parents or independently, the more homeownership will be delayed,” However, this does not have to be the route you take. Even if your social media status says single, you should still be seeking to own a home to build wealth for your future—and an FHA loan (or a VA loan if you are military-affiliated and eligible) can help a new home be your plus one.

Ready To Leave Your Lease Behind? 

Buying a home is a huge step for up-and-coming generations, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. If you’re ready to let go of the leasing life and start living life, we can help! Getting a quote or pre-approval letter is easy. To get started, click here

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Homebuying Homebuying Tips Loans Mortgages Pre-approval Purchase

How Pre-Approvals Can Help You Get Your Offer on a Home Accepted

Pre-approvals for a mortgage loan are like getting verified on Twitter. It’s a sign that you’re the real deal. 

Getting pre-approved before you start shopping for a new home isn’t a requirement, but it definitely gives you a leg up. We want to help you get your dream home, and a pre-approval letter gets you one step closer. 

So, what is a pre-approval? How do you get one? Is it worth it? Let’s take a look. 

What Is Pre-Approval?

A pre-approval determines how much money you can borrow to purchase your home. Lenders analyze your income, assets, and credit score to determine three homebuying factors:

  • The type of loan you can get approved for
  • How much you can borrow
  • What the interest rate will be

The lender will then provide you with an official pre-approval letter that details this information.  

It’s important to note that pre-approval and pre-qualification are NOT the same. Pre-qualifications can be beneficial in providing insight into your loan opportunities, but are less in-depth and therefore less accurate.  

How Do You Get Pre-Approved?

The pre-approval process is essentially a mortgage application. Your lender will want to evaluate your finances, which includes reviewing documentation in the following areas:

  • Proof of income
  • Employment verification (bank statements) 
  • Proof of assets (retirement or investment account statements)
  • List of any liabilities
  • Credit history (rent history, credit report)
  • Identification
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

How Does a Pre-Approval Help You Buy Your Dream Home?

Your pre-approval letter essentially says, “you can buy a house worth X amount of money,” because you are highly likely to get a loan for the amount stated by your lender. 

Your real estate agent will typically want to see your pre-approval letter before showing you houses to ensure you both aren’t wasting time looking at homes outside your budget.

It will also be valuable when making an offer on “the one,” because it shows the seller you won’t have problems getting financed for the amount you’re offering. That’s all the more important if it’s a hot property and others are making offers. With pre-approval, you may already be one step ahead of those other potential buyers. 

And because a pre-approval is “essentially a mortgage application,” the rest of your home buying process will go a lot smoother. By doing some of the work upfront, you can shift your focus on the fun stuff, like your living room color scheme or building a backyard entertainment space. 

Start Now!

If you’re considering a move or looking into buying your first home, it’s a great time to start the pre-approval process! And we can help! Click the blue button in the top right corner of our home page to get started. If you have questions, reach out to us! We’d love to help you take the next step on your homebuying journey.