How Buyers Misjudge the Mortgage Process

February 20, 2018

Many home buyers find the mortgage process “stressful” or “complicated,” recent surveys show. As such, they may go through it and make some mistakes they later regret. Realtor.com® recently highlighted some of consumers’ most common pitfalls when getting a mortgage, including:

Failing to shop around.

About half of home buyers say they meet with only one mortgage lender before signing up for a mortgage, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Lenders’ interest rates and offers can vary. Failing to talk with more than one mortgage lender may mean buyers miss out on some savings. Rates among lenders can vary by more than a half percentage, according to the CFPB. For example, getting a 4 percent rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage compared to a 4.5 percent rate on a $200,000 loan could mean a savings of about $60 per month or $3,500 over the first five years. Housing experts recommend meeting with at least three mortgage lenders before selecting one.

Waiting for a 20 percent down payment.

A 20 percent down payment can help home buyers avoid having to pay the extra fees of private mortgage insurance. But mortgage rates are currently still at historical lows and waiting for a 20 percent down payment could mean buyers miss a chance to lock in a lower mortgage rate.

Getting prequalified instead of preapproved.

Prequalification is a basic overview a lender does of a borrower’s ability to get a loan. Buyers receive a general estimate of the size of loan they can afford. But it’s not a guarantee they can actually get approved for a home loan. That’s what makes a mortgage preapproval more ideal for home shoppers. It’s a more critical analysis by a lender of a buyer’s credit and assets. Lenders will then issue a letter of preapproval, which is a written commitment for financing up to a certain loan amount.

Shuffling money around accounts.

Buyers can run into delays when they start moving their money around from account to account. Lenders will check to see if finances have remained the same. Shuffling money around can be a huge red flag, says Casey Fleming, mortgage adviser and author of The Loan Guide: How to Get the Best Possible Mortgage. Buyers who are under contract for a home need to make sure their money stays put.

View more mistakes buyers most often make in the mortgage process at realtor.com®.

Source: “6 Ways Home Buyers Mess up Getting a Mortgage,” realtor.com® (Feb. 19, 2018)