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Review by John Stearns Review by John StearnsArrow Right Senior Mortgage Loan Originator, American Fidelity Mortgage John Stearns, CMC, CRMS is a Senior Intustage Loan Originator with American Fidelity Mortgage. About our jury John Stearns
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You will find no shortage of banks, online lenders, mortgage brokers and other players who want to take your home loan application. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the right mortgage lender for you.
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There are six main types of mortgage lenders. Which type is best for you depends on the level of hands-on interaction you enjoy, the leg you’re willing to put in, and any limitations you have on the types of loans you’ll be considering.
Direct lenders are banks, credit unions, online entities and other organizations that provide mortgage loans directly to borrowers. They originate and finance mortgage loans and service them (i.e. manage the repayment) or outsource the servicing. They also set interest rates and loan terms. These can vary significantly depending on the lender you work with.
Mortgage brokers are independent, licensed professionals who act as matchmakers between lenders and borrowers. Brokers typically charge a small percentage of the loan amount (usually 1 to 2 percent) for their services, which the lender pays (but passes on to you as part of the cost of the mortgage). They do not fund loans, set interest rates or fees, or make lending decisions.
Correspondent lenders originate and fund their own loans, but quickly sell them to larger lenders in the secondary mortgage market after the loan closes.
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Unlike direct lenders, wholesale lenders never interact with borrowers. They typically partner with mortgage brokers and other third parties to offer their loan products at discounted rates and rely on brokers to help borrowers apply for a mortgage and get through the approval process.
Portfolio lenders originate and fund loans from their customers’ bank deposits so they can keep the loans, not resell them after closing. Typically, portfolio lenders include community banks, credit unions, and savings and loan institutions.
Lenders are private investors (either an individual or a group) who provide short-term loans secured by real estate. While traditional lenders scrutinize your financial ability to pay off a mortgage, moneylenders are more interested in property value to protect their investment. Hard money lenders usually require repayment within a short period of time, usually one to five years. They also typically charge higher loan origination fees, closing costs and interest rates, up to 10 percentage points higher than conventional lenders.
To find the best mortgage lender, you need to shop around. Consider different options such as your bank, local credit union, online lenders and more. Ask about interest rates, loan terms, down payment requirements, mortgage insurance, closing costs and any fees and compare these details for each offer.
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Long before you start looking for a mortgage lender and applying for a loan, do a check on your finances and improve your standing if necessary. This means mining credit score and credit reports. You are eligible for a free credit report from each of the three major reporting bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion), which you can get through AnnualCreditReport.com.
If your score could use some work, first check your credit reports for errors, late payments, delinquent accounts receivable, and large balances. Paying off each of your credit cards below 30 percent of your available credit and making payments on time are the best ways to improve your score.
In addition to solid credit, lenders want to see that you can handle your existing debt along with a new mortgage payment, so they’ll look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This formula adds up all of your monthly debts and divides them by your gross monthly income to get a percentage. Many lenders require a DTI percentage of less than 43%, although some loan programs allow up to 50%.
To keep your DTI ratio manageable, avoid taking out new loans or making large credit card purchases for at least three months before applying for a mortgage. You should stick to this rule until you finalize your mortgage, as lenders can pull your credit report at any point during the application process until closing.
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An important part of finding the right mortgage is having a good idea of how much home you can afford. A lender could qualify you for a loan that would maximize your budget and leave no room for unexpected expenses, but taking out such a mortgage could be a financially wrong move.
Lenders pre-approve you based on your gross income, outstanding loans and revolving debt. However, they do not consider other monthly bills such as utilities, gas, daycare, insurance or groceries in their calculations.
To get a better idea of what you can afford, consider these types of expenses and other financial goals. Look at your monthly net income to figure out how much you need to spend on a mortgage payment.
A key aspect of finding the best mortgage lender is being able to speak their language, including knowing the different types of mortgages. Some initial research can also help you separate mortgage fact from fiction.
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