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The Beginning Basics

Lenders use different formulas for arriving at how much you can afford to purchase. A general rule of thumb is that you should spend about 30% of your gross monthly income on housing costs or PITI (principal, interest, taxes and insurance), and no more than 38% on monthly house payments and other long-term debt payments. However, each person’s financial picture is unique and will be different based on their current financial situation.

Getting Your Mortgage Application Started

Being pre-approved by a lender will put you in a much stronger negotiating position. It shows the seller that you are a committed buyer, financially capable of buying the property, and more likely to close. Keep in mind that pre-approval is different from pre-qualification. Pre-qualification is merely an estimate of what you may be able to afford. Pre-approval occurs when the lender has reviewed your credit and believes that you can finance a home up to a specific amount. However, neither pre-approval nor pre-qualification represents or implies a commitment on the part of a lender to actually fund a loan.

Here are some of the current documents you’ll need to get started:

  • INCOME
    • Current pay stubs
    • W-2s or 1099s
    • Tax returns, usually for two years
  • ASSETS
    • Bank statements
    • Investments/brokerage firm statements
    • Net worth of businesses owned (if applicable)
  • DEBTS
    • Credit card statements
    • Loan statements
    • Alimony/child support payments (if applicable)

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