Many people wonder if buying a home is really within their reach. It often seems like a daunting purchase for the first time buyer. The good news is that with the large variety of options available today, it has never been easier to secure a mortgage.
Mortgage lenders assess a variety of criteria when considering mortgage applications. Most lenders look at the following factors when determining whether you qualify for a mortgage loan.
One of the first questions a lender will consider is how much of your total income you’ll be spending on housing. This helps the lender decide whether you can comfortably afford a house. Mortgage payments for principal, interest, and taxes generally should not exceed 30% of your gross monthly income.
A lender will then look at your debts, which generally include house payments as well as payments on all loans, charge cards, child support, etc., that you make each month.
A history of steady employment, usually within the same job for several years, helps you to qualify. However, a short history in your current job shouldn’t prevent you from getting a loan, as long as there have been no gaps in income over the last two years.
Good credit is also very important in qualifying for a loan, and the lender will want to know that the house is worth the price you plan to pay.
Down payments are not always required as there are mortgage programs that provide 100% financing for qualified purchasers. If you have a down payment of 20% or more of the purchase price, this is known as a "conventional" mortgage, and the mortgage lender will not require default insurance. However, with mortgage loan insurance to cover the potential default of payment, you may be able to qualify for a mortgage with a down payment of as little as 5%.
When budgeting, also consider other monthly-related expenses such as condominium fees, heat, hydro, water, property tax, insurance, and household maintenance.
Even if you can’t buy a home right now, homeownership is possible. If you make it a serious goal and plan for it, within two years you can probably overcome most or all of the obstacles that usually face first time buyers.