Applying for a MortgageWhen applying for a mortgage, your lender will consider your down payment, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio. If your numbers look good, it is most likely that you will qualify for a mortgage and therefore pursue your dream of buying a home. The amount of loan you can borrow, of course, will depend on individual circumstances, but it may also exceed the amount you can afford comfortably.

Down Payment

If you don’t have a good credit history, paying a sizable down payment can be a great help. The more money you can pay, the less risk your lender will have to take on. You will no longer have to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you can afford 20% down payment. This will then add a few hundred dollars to your monthly loan payment. Down payment ranges from 0% to 20%, but the ideal is 15% to 20%.

Credit Score

Most lenders are all about credit scores today. You can get your free credit score from one of the credit or consumer report agencies. FICO is a commonly used agency, giving scores between 300 and 850. If you want your lender to be flexible, you should aim for a high score (at least 700). Kalsee.com says that the higher your score, the more you can qualify for quality mortgage rates.

Debt-to-Income Ratio

It is common for lenders to follow the 28/36 rule, which means that no more 28% of your income should go to loan payment, and taxes and insurance, with debt payments no more than 36% of your salary. There will be no problem if you have to no other debt, as you can dedicate a portion of your income to the mortgage payment. For an FHA-backed loan, you may apply for as much as 41% of your income to debt.

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Mortgages are easier to get this year, benefitting all types of buyers including retirees and those looking for a home in expensive markets. While the new rules help buyers, it still important to maintain a good credit score, eliminate debt, and save for a sizable down payment.