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First Time Home Buyer Guide | Houston, TX

Total Mortgage Payment

Your monthly mortgage payment typically is made up of four components: principal, interest, taxes and insurance, together known as PITI. The principal refers to the part of the monthly payment that reduces the remaining balance of the mortgage. The interest is the fee charged for borrowing money.

Taxes refer to property taxes your community levies which are generally based on a percentage of the value of your home. The lender usually collects 1/12th of the yearly property tax bill each month. The lender collects taxes in advance and places the money in an escrow fund.

Lenders won’t let you close on your home loan if you don’t have hazard insurance to cover your home and your personal property against losses from fire, theft, bad weather and other causes. The insurance amount is collected and paid much like the taxes. Each month 1/12th of the insurance bill is collected and stored in an escrow account until the bill is due. Even if you pay cash for your home, it is a good idea to buy hazard insurance in the event your home is damaged or destroyed.

Principal and interest comprise the bulk of your monthly payments in a process called amortization, which reduces your debt over a fixed period of time. With amortization, your initial monthly payments are largely interest, and as the loan matures, a greater portion of your payment is allocated toward the principal.

Choosing A Mortgage Company

When you are ready to shop for a loan, you can work directly with a lender or with a mortgage broker representing many individual lenders. Direct lenders are lending their own money, have in house programs and make the final decision on your application. Mortgage brokers are intermediaries who represent many lenders and loan programs from which to choose.

If you have special financing needs or want to shop the market for the best deal, an experienced broker may be able to find the best loan for you.

Along with shopping the source, you’ll also have to shop the total cost of the loan, including the interest rate, fees, points (each point is one percent of the amount you borrow), prepayment penalties, the loan term, and a host of other items.

Your Initial Meeting With a Mortgage Professional

The loan approval process generally begins with an initial interview where you and a mortgage professional discuss the potential loan. You will need to send information to us to verify your income and long term debts.

You may prefer to talk with CORE Lending before house hunting to determine in advance how much you can afford and the mortgage amount for which you can qualify. This step is called pre-qualification and can save you time and trouble by making certain you are looking in the correct price range.

To complete the 1003 Mortgage Application, you will need to gather:

  • A purchase contract for the house (if you have one)
  • Your bank account numbers and the address of your bank branch, along with checking and savings account statements for the previous 2-3 months
  • Pay stubs, W2 withholding forms, tax returns for two years, or other proof of employment and income verification
  • Credit card bills for the past few billing periods, or canceled checks for rent or utility bill payments, to show payment history and amount of revolving debt
  • Information on other consumer debt such as car loans, furniture loans, student loans and retail credit cards
  • Balance sheets and tax returns, if you are self-employed
  • Any gift letters, if you are using a gift from a parent or relative or other organization to help pay the down payment and/or closing costs. This letter simply states that the money is in fact a gift and will not have to be repaid.

Having these items on hand when you visit the mortgage company will help speed up the application process. Usually an appraisal fee will have to be paid when you submit the mortgage application. After you speak with us, you should have a general idea if you qualify for the size and type of loan you want. After the mortgage application, we will let you know if you qualify for the loan within a couple of days.

After Completing The Application

CORE Lending will begin the work of verifying all the information you’ve provided.

This process can take anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on the type of mortgage you choose, whether you’re buying a home outside your local community, or a host of other factors.

Within three business days after your signed application, we will give you a good faith estimate of your closing costs. You’ll also get a statement that shows your estimated monthly payment, the cost of your finance charges and other facts about your mortgage.

Stay in touch with us to speed up the application process. Some home buyers find the closing process to be one of the most intimidating aspects of buying a home because it’s so unfamiliar. If so, ask us what to expect at your closing.

Once you receive your approval, and you’re waiting to close on the sale of the home, don’t go on a shopping spree. The mortgage lender may do a final check of your credit report or bank accounts to make sure you’re not assuming more debt or spending your cash reserves. There are steps you can take if your loan is denied.

Two Key Factors In Qualifying

When a lender makes a decision about a mortgage application, they consider two basic factors: 1) your ability and 2) your willingness to repay the loan.

Ability to repay the mortgage is determined by verifying your current employment and analyzing your total income. Lenders prefer for you to have been employed at the same place for at least two years, or at least be in the same line of work for a few years. Your proposed monthly payment will be compared to your monthly income and debt.

Willingness to repay is influenced by how you have paid previous loans and by examining how the property will be used. Willingness can be gauged by your credit report and previous commitments to pay rent and/or utility bills. There is also a greater tendency to stick with your payments if you live in a house as opposed to a rental property or vacation home.

It is important to remember that there are no set rules and each applicant is handled on a case-by-case basis. Many applicants come up a little short in one area, but make up for it with other strong points. These compensating factors may include a large down payment, solid employment, extensive educational background or overall financial health.

For applicants who need to make a lower down payment, mortgage insurance is protection for the lender in case you stop making payments. This allows low and moderate income families to become homeowners with low down payment programs.

Speed Up The Mortgage Process

Once complete, your application will be given to a processor in the mortgage company who will organize your paperwork and may verify your employment, bank balances, and other information.

Be sure to respond promptly to requests for information while processing is taking place.

Commonly requested items during processing that may not have been collected during the application include:

  • The final purchase contract for the house (if applicable).
  • If you’re self-employed, the mortgage company may require your personal and business tax returns for the previous two years and your company’s year-to-date Profit and Loss statement.
  • Divorce settlement papers, if applicable
  • Updated account statements for listed assets in the application that may have changed in value.
  • Information about debts or credit report items that may have been delinquent or not accurate.
  • Evidence of your mortgage or rental payments, such as canceled checks.
  • An irrevocable gift letter if you are receiving a monetary gift from a relative.

The processor is collecting this information before presenting it to an underwriter. An underwriter reviews all the information in your loan file to determine if the application meets the lender guidelines. With approval, a lender should give you a letter of commitment, which is a promise from the lender to make a loan based on specific terms and conditions.

Escrow Account Basics

Mortgage escrow accounts are special accounts set up in which money is held to pay property taxes, fire and hazard insurance premiums, mortgage insurance premiums, and other escrow items.

Escrow accounts ensure that these items are paid in a timely fashion. They guarantee that there is always enough money to pay these bills when they are due so that the homeowner avoids the risk of lapsed insurance coverage or delinquent taxes. With escrow accounts, homeowners do not have to worry about coming up with several large, lump sum payments, each with different due dates, throughout the year.

With escrow accounts, unexpected increases are taken care of. It is the responsibility of the mortgage company to allow for possible increases in tax or insurance premiums. Mortgage companies typically cover shortages when tax or insurance payments increase. It is very common for mortgage companies to pay taxes and insurance premiums when they are due even though all the money for these bills has not yet been collected from the homeowner.

Mortgages have lower rates and down payments because of escrows. Escrows protect the interest of investors of home mortgage loans by making them more attractive and secure as investments. Escrow accounts also benefit local governments by providing a more efficient, less expensive means of tax collection.

 

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