An Overview of the Loan Process

Starting the loan application and unsure of what to expect? Here’s a step-by-step guide to show you how the loan process works. 

Organize Your Documents 

A properly documented loan application makes your loan process go smoothly. This checklist will help you gather your paperwork. 

  1. Complete and sign the residential loan application, Form 1003, and the attached loan info sheet, credit authorization and fair lending notice. Page 5 of the application is a continuation page in case you need additional space for your assets or liabilities. If you make a mistake while filling out the application cross it out, and make a change. Do NOT use whiteout. 
  2. If you are salaried: provide W-2’s for the previous two years and one month of paystubs. If you are self-employed, provide tax returns for the previous two years, including all schedules, and a YTD profit and loss statement. (Note: provide copies of all requested documents. Do not provide original documents.) 
  3. If you own rental property, provide recent rental agreements and tax returns for the previous two years, including all schedules. 
  4. To speed up the approval process, provide bank statements for the most recent three months, and recent statements for stock, mutual funds and IRA/401K accounts. 
  5. If you are requesting a cash out refinance, provide a letter explaining how you will use the refinance proceeds. 
  6. If applicable, provide a copy of your divorce decree and settlement agreement. 
  7. If you are NOT a US citizen, provide a copy of your green card (front & back). If you are NOT a permanent resident provide a copy of your H-1 or L-1 visa. 
  8. If any borrower has filed bankruptcy, provide the Discharge Notice, Filing and Schedule of Creditors. 
  9. If you are applying for a home equity line of credit or loan (second loan), also include your first mortgage note. (This should be with your closing loan documents.) 

Get Qualified 

Getting qualified before you apply for a loan can help you understand how much you can borrow. 

When buying a home, you may be pre-qualified or pre-approved. You can be pre-qualified over the phone or on the Internet in a few minutes. Pre-qualification is not as useful as pre-approval. Pre-approval requires a more rigorous process, including verification of your credit, income, assets and liabilities. It is highly recommended that you be pre-approved before you start looking for a home. 

Being pre-approved will: 

  1. Inform you of your maximum affordable home value, and save you from previewing properties outside your price range. 
  2. Put you in a stronger negotiating position with the seller, because the seller will know your loan is pre-approved. 
  3. Help you close quickly, since your loan is pre-approved. 

Shop Loan Programs and Rates 

What loan program is best for your situation? Lenders offer many different loan options: 

  1. Think about how long you plan to keep the loan. If you plan to sell your home in a few years, you may want to consider an adjustable rate or balloon loan. If you plan to keep your home for a longer time, you may want to consider a fixed rate loan. 
  2. Understand the relationship between rates and points. Points are considered prepaid interest and may be tax deductible. Each point is equal to 1 percent of the loan. For example, 1 point on a $150,000 loan is $1,500. The more points you pay, the lower your rate. 
  3. Compare different loan programs. With so many programs to choose from, it’s hard to figure out which program is best for you. Consult an experienced loan officer who can help you find a loan program that best fits your short- and long-term plans. 

Obtain Loan Approval 

Once your loan application has been received, we will start the loan approval process immediately. This involves verifying your: 

  • Credit history 
  • Employment history 
  • Assets including your bank accounts, stocks, mutual fund and retirement accounts 
  • Property value 
  • Based on your specific situation, additional documents or verifications may be required. 

To improve your chances of getting a loan approval: 

  • Fill out the loan application completely. 
  • Respond promptly to any requests for additional documents. This is especially critical if your rate is locked or if you plan to close by a certain date. 
  • Do not make any major purchases. Do not buy a car, furniture or another house till your loan is closed. 
  • Anything that causes your debts to increase might have an adverse effect on your current application. 
  • Do not move money into your bank accounts unless it can be traced. If you are receiving money from friends, family or other relatives, please contact us. 
  • Do not go out of town around the closing date. If you do plan to be out of town when your loan is expected to close, you may sign a power of attorney, to authorize another individual to sign on your behalf. 
  • Notify your loan officer before applying for any other credit, including credit cards, personal loans or even with another mortgage company. Some loan programs have strict guidelines regarding your credit score. Credit inquiries may lower your credit score and may have an adverse effect on your loan approval. 

Close the Loan 

After your loan is approved, you will be required to sign the final loan documents. This will normally take place in the presence of a notary public. Be prepared to: 

  • Bring a cashier’s check for your down payment and closing costs if required. Personal checks are normally NOT accepted. 
  • Review the final loan documents. Make sure that the interest rate and loan terms are what you were promised. Also, verify the accuracy of the name and address on the loan documents. 
  • Sign the loan documents. The notary will require that you have your picture ID with you. Some lenders also require to see your Social Security card. 

Your loan will normally close shortly after you have signed the loan documents. On refinance and home equity loan transactions, federal law requires that you have three days to review the documents before your loan transaction can close. Purchase transactions do not have a three-day rescission period. 

Which Loan is Right for Me?

If you’re considering buying a home using a loan, you might not know where to start your research. These helpful charts break down the type of loan that best suits your situation and the benefits and disadvantages of each option. 

Years you plan to stay in the home Recommended program 
1-3 years 3/1 ARM, 1 year ARM or 6 month ARM 
3-5 years 5/1 ARM 
5-7 years 7/1 ARM 
7-10 years 10/1 ARM, 30 year fixed or 15 year fixed 
10+ years 30 year fixed or 15 year fixed 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Fixed Rate Mortgages 30 year fixed 15 year fixed Monthly payments are fixed over the life of the loan Interest rate does not change Protected if rates go up Can refinance if rates go down Higher interest rate Higher mortgage payments Rate does not drop if interest rates improve 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM) 10/1 ARM 7/1 ARM 5/1 ARM 3/1 ARM 1 year ARM 6 month ARM 1 month ARM Lower initial monthly payment Rates and payments may go down if rates improve May qualify for higher loan amounts 30 year term, no balloon payment More risk Payments may change over time Potential for higher payments if rates increase 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Balloon Mortgages 7 year 5 year Lower initial monthly payment Lower payment for a predetermined period of time Many balloon mortgages offer the option to convert to a new loan after the initial term Risk of rates being higher at the end of the initial fixed period Risk of foreclosure if you cannot make balloon payment, refinance, or exercise the conversion option Balloon payment requires you to sell or refinance after the term, as opposed to a 7/1 or 5/1 program with a 30 year term 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
First Time Buyer Programs Lower down payment Easier to qualify Lower rates may be available May be subject to income and property value limitations Some government subsidized programs may generate a recapture tax if you sell the house too soon Education courses may be required to qualify for these loans 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Stated Income Programs Don’t need to verify income Faster approval Good for borrowers who may not qualify with a full income documentation program Higher rates Higher down payment 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Interest Only Programs You have several payment options Lower monthly payments Qualify for a higher loan amount Qualify at the interest only payment Option to pay the full normal payment Interest only payments for up to ten years Higher rates Principal loan balance will not decrease during the interest only payment period Payment will be higher for the remaining term 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
No point, No fee Programs No out-of-pocket loan costs at closing Closing costs are paid from the lender rebate Less money required to close Refinance without increasing your loan amount Higher rates Higher payments Some lenders may have a short payoff penalty which is usually charged to the loan broker, but may be passed on to you Some require a prepayment penalty for the first one to five years 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Imperfect Credit Programs Potential for reestablishing credit if you pay your mortgage on time When used for debt consolidation, you may be able to reduce your monthly debt payment Higher rates Terms may not be as favorable Harder to get long-term fixed loans Loans may have prepayment penalties 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Home Equity Line of Credit You only borrow what you need Pay interest only on what you borrow Flexible access to funds Interest may be tax deductible May be free of closing costs A good source for an emergency fund, if set up in advance Can be used for debt consolidation and lower payments Rates are usually lower than consumer loan or credit card rates Rates can change. The maximum interest rate can be relatively high Payments can change Harder to refinance your first mortgage 
Loan Program Advantages Disadvantages 
Home Equity Fixed Loan Fixed payments Interest may be tax deductible Get cash out for any purpose Higher interest rates compared to first mortgage Harder to refinance your first mortgage Interest is paid on the entire loan amount, compared to an equity line of credit 

In addition to standard loan programs, you may benefit by obtaining a special program: 

  • Purchase your home with no down payment using Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) or Lender-paid Mortgage Insurance (MI). 
  • Piggyback loans: 80-10-10 or 80-15-5. Avoid PMI payments by using Lender-paid MI. 
  • Debt consolidation programs. 
  • Home Improvement loans. 
  • You may qualify even if you’ve been turned down before!