Buying a home is a major expense; for most consumers it is the largest financial investment they will make in a lifetime. People that paid for their homes with cash make up the minority of homeowners. Simply put, having ready money to purchase a home is an ideal situation but is out of reach for most people. The path to owning a home more commonly involves qualifying for a mortgage.
In Canada, the 2016 census reported that close to 69 percent of its citizens were homeowners. Roughly 64% of Americans owned homes in the last quarter of that year. Most Canadian and U.S. home buyers financed their purchases with a mortgage, the primary means of securing a home loan.
Preparation is crucial for getting approved for a mortgage. Everything runs much more smoothly when time is taken to get ready before making a mortgage application.
Nasty surprises, some with sadly negative consequences (like rejection), can be avoided with the following major steps:
Advance preparation uncovers useful information that can affect how much the buyer can spend before getting into too much debt. One way to get a feel for the deal is by meeting with a lender by phone or in person to crunch the numbers. Another popular tool is a mortgage calculator.
Mortgage calculators are online tools provided by lenders, real estate companies, and finance-based websites to give buyers insight into how much they can afford to borrow. They work by calculating information provided and returning results based on the data. Users enter the cost of the home, how much of a down payment they can make and additional information such as the home’s location.
The results that are returned by the calculator include breakdown of the mortgage payment as well as payment schedule (also known as amortization), costs, and other details. The majority of calculators also preview mortgage rates from various lenders based on the buyers’ information.
Below are some keys to using a mortgage calculator effectively.
The most important point about mortgage calculators is that they are simplified tools that offer courtesy estimations to potential purchasers. Home buyers must never assume that the results are exactly what they will pay for their home loan payment. No lender is required to abide by terms that match the results of a mortgage calculator; borrowers should use the outcome for general information only.
Qualifying for a mortgage in Canada and the United States can largely depend on the type of home loan. Although mortgages are basically loans to purchase a home or other real estate, they do come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to meet the needs of a financially diverse community of applicants.
Mortgage types include:
The choice of the kind of loan depends on the lifestyle and financial status of the borrower. Another factor is whether the mortgage is assumable or transferrable across Canadian provincial borders. Since assuming a mortgage means someone else will make the monthly payments, almost every lender will require the new buyer to qualify before assuming the home loan.
Realtors, brokers, and lenders suggest that people get pre-approved for a mortgage before looking at homes. This is a great idea for both them and buyers. A pre-approval saves realtors and lenders unnecessary time and expense spent showing houses and performing other application processes. The borrowers are saved the pain of falling in love with a home that they have little of no chance of owning.
A pre-approval letter can also influence the seller to choose one buyer over another if there are several offers on the table. The pre-approval means that the buyer will most likely qualify for a mortgage subject to final approval. Buyers are asked for income, credit score, and personal financials. If pre-approved, a letter is drafted which states the amount, interest rate, and specified time in which the pre-approval is guaranteed. The interest rate on a pre-approval does not change during this time period, regardless of any market see-saws.
Qualifying for a mortgage in Canada and the U.S. is easier when the buyer prepares for the commitment. The benefits of this strategy include decreased risk of making uninformed choices, lower chance of running into adverse surprises, and applying only for an individualized mortgage that serves and champions all parties involved.