5 mortgage tips for homebuyers NEW YORK – March 5, 2014 – Bankrate.com offers some tips for your homebuyers on securing a mortgage, getting the best rate, and more.

• Be prepared to document your finances.
Buyers should be ready for a stringent review by lenders underwriting mortgages thanks to new mortgage regulations that took effect in January, particularly in proving borrowers’ ability to repay their loans. To prepare for the inevitable, borrowers should be prepared to show bank statements, tax returns, W-2s, investment accounts and documentation of any other assets they own. Also, they should be prepared to explain any large deposits to their accounts – even a $500 check from a family member during the holidays. If they can’t prove where the money came from, it has the potential to delay closing.

• Lock in a rate soon. Mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2014 as the Federal Reserve winds down its $85 billion per month bond-buying stimulus program. A rate lock is usually good for 30, 45 or 60 days, although the time period can vary among lenders.

• Shop around. Buyers may have the upper hand in 2014. Lenders have lost a large amount of their refinance business this year as rising rates encourage fewer homeowners to refinance. That means they are turning their attention to homebuyers and may be more willing to compete for their business. Homebuyers will want to shop around for more than just the best interest rate on the loan, however – look at points and closing costs as well.

• Pay careful attention to credit. The best mortgage rates often go to borrowers with credit scores of 720 or higher, Bankrate reports. While those with a credit score of 680 can still probably qualify for a loan, they may end up paying higher rates or higher closing costs.

• Watch your spending. Make sure your buyers aren’t tempted to go outfit their new home by buying furniture – on credit – before closing. Lenders carefully scrutinize debt obligations, such as credit cards and student loans. Borrowers are advised to keep their monthly debt obligations, including mortgage and property taxes, to below 43 percent of their income.

Source: “10 Mortgage Tips for 2014,” Bankrate.com (February 2014)