Now that we have been through the mortgage process, I want to share the lessons we learned.
When I say mortgage process, I really mean process. It takes a lot of time and energy to complete the application and deal with the numerous people involved.
Here are my top tips:
1. Ask questions. Ask A LOT of questions. We were pretty ignorant about what goes into a mortgage, so we could have benefited from guidance from our loan officer and processor. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We had to decipher the application on our own, got requests for documents or letters with no explanation, and were never really told what to expect or even given a real timeline of events.
2. Have in-person meetings if possible. This would have alleviated some of the headaches from #1. We did everything online or via fax since our loan officer was in Daphne, AL and our processor was somewhere in Texas. We even were told that it’s much easier to do things in person, but we just couldn’t. If we had, though, we would have been walked through the entire application, given more background and other information and had the ability to action meet the people who impacted our application.
3. Be patient, but not too patient. As I said earlier, we were given rough estimates of how long certain things would take (i.e. 2-3 days for credit approval), but never given a timeline of events (i.e. first you fill out the application, then it goes to the officer… etc.). After we submitted our initial application to our loan officer on a Friday, we were told we would be contacted by our loan processor within a week. By the time the next Friday rolled around, we hadn’t heard anything. So we called the officer who said she had needed to ask us some questions. Hello! She could have contacted us and not delayed the entire process!
4. Identify the people who will be the most helpful — and those who will be the least helpful. This is true throughout the entire home buying process. We did have a realtor, but our biggest ally was the sales rep for the builder. When we had problems with the mortgage company stalling (the mortgage company was part of the builder’s family of companies), she pushed them to move things along. Your loan officer is supposed to be helpful, but we learned early on that ours was going to be the least helpful of everyone. In fact, she was the reason our closing was delayed (more than once!). In the end, we had to tell the builder’s sales rep about the problems we were having, and she escalated our problems to our loan officer’s boss.
5. Be knowledgeable and triple check everything. There is so much paperwork and details that it’s easy to just sign everything and move along, but it’s important to know which type of loan you’re getting (that determines the percentage you have to pay up as a down payment) and other things like how the house will be titled. We didn’t triple check that our interest rate had been locked in — even though this wasn’t our fault (we told our loan officer to lock it and she said she would…), it could have cost us thousands of dollars over the life of the loan — and delayed our closing (yet again). Even on the morning of our closing date (did I mention our closing was scheduled for noon?), we were going back and forth over the amount of closing costs we were supposed to pay.
It seemed like our mortgage application took forever and had a lot of complications (long story… let’s just say that inheriting a house can make applying for a mortgage more difficult), but we are loving our new home — even though we were the first residents of a brand new neighborhood. More on that later. 🙂