By Robert Lipston, Opes Advisors | Regional Director – Pacific Northwest
Buying a home can be one of the most exhilarating, even thrilling – yet sometimes admittedly stressful – experiences of one’s life. It’s also something that the average person only does about once every decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
So whether your client is a first-time buyer or buying a third home, there are some things to keep in mind that will help the experience be more thrilling and less stressful. These are the most important “What NOT to do” tips from experienced Mortgage Advisors to consider when buying a home:
Don’t pack papers too early. Once your clients have turned in all the documentation requested by the lender upfront, they can pack up the rest of their paperwork, right? Don’t. Underwriters may ask for extra documents so until the loan actually closes, the safest approach is to keep personal financial documents readily available.
Saving 10% could be dangerous to the closing. Clients need to purchase new appliances for their new home and some stores offer an extra 10% off when opening a new credit card. What’s the harm, right? Don’t. Your client’s credit can be pulled again just before closing and with a new credit line, their score could drop. Believe it or not, this could prevent a closing from happening. Safest approach: Make major purchases AFTER the home loan closes.
Cash deposits can complicate things. Your client’s parents just gave $1,000 cash as a birthday gift and they decided to deposit the money before the home purchase closed. No problem, right? Don’t, as this could be a problem. All “gifts” have to be verified with a detailed paper trail. Clients should ask for advice from their Mortgage Advisor before making any large deposits, by cash or check, during a home purchase.
Taking a new job could stall the loan process. Your client is in the middle of buying a new home and was offered a great new job that starts right away. With her new commissions, she is going to make at least 30% more income. However, the base salary is 30 percent less than her current salary. That won’t affect the home purchase, right? When someone is qualified for a mortgage with income that is based on commissions, bonuses or self-employed income, a two-year history is required. That means a job change like this could affect your client’s ability to qualify for the loan. Reaching out to their experienced Mortgage Advisor will help clients navigate any major decisions that could affect their home financing.
Never wait to sell stock when using it for a down payment. Clients who are planning to sell their stock to use as a down payment sometimes wait as long as they can to see if it will go up. Don’t. Not only can the value of the stock drop – leaving your client short of funds to close on the purchase of their home – but they need to provide the documentation of having enough funds to close for loan approval. Selling the stock when they know the value can help them close on time.
Renters need to be extra careful with their security deposits. When clients are buying a home and moving from a rental where the landlord holds a security deposit, they may think that it’s okay to use that deposit towards the last month’s rent. Don’t. That’s because rental history is verified and skipping a payment, or a reported late payment, could negatively impact loan approval.
Clients shouldn’t ignore a request for something they’ve already provided. Sometimes clients might be asked for a document they think was provided, yet a page could be missing or digitally corrupted. The request may also seem a little crazy, but when an Underwriter makes a request, they really do need the document. Clients should call their Mortgage Advisor and ask for help to understand the reasoning behind the request and then send in the requested information as quickly as possible.
Never be too busy to stay on top of bills. Things can get hectic when buying a home: packing, closing down and setting up utilities, arranging for movers, ordering cable or satellite installation, visiting schools – there’s a million things to do. But the one thing clients can’t neglect is paying their bills. Even if a credit report has been run once, it can be run again before closing, so it’s important that clients keep their payments current by paying everything on time.
Don’t toss blank pages. Clients often toss the last page of the bank statement because it’s usually blank or has an ad on it. That’s okay, right? It’s not, if the page has a number on it. Underwriting rules require all numbered pages of a bank statement, including blank ones. Fortunately, most banks provide easy access to download full copies of recent online bank statements so clients have another option for missing pages.
Hold on to paystubs. Clients with auto-deposit of paychecks through work may receive a paper copy of the paystub at home and have a habit of throwing these away. Don’t. They’ll need the most recent paystubs for their loan application. Keep in mind that documents for a mortgage have a short “shelf life,” so clients need to hang on to the most current copies of paystubs, bank statements and other key financial documents until their loan closes – just so they’re not scrambling at the last minute for this information.
Finally, the best advice for clients buying a home is to stay the course – try not to make any big changes during the home financing process: don’t open new bank accounts, take out new credit lines, make any major purchases, or start any home improvement projects. If they heed these don’ts, they’ll take a lot of the stress out of the home buying process and truly enjoy the thrill of stepping in the doorway of their new place, looking around and knowing that there really is no place like home.