7 Steps on the Path to Homeownership

Cardinal Financial March 8, 2017 | 6 min read
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The road to homeownership is shorter than you think.

1. Pre-approval

What to expect:

To pre-approve you for a loan, we’ll check your credit and review your financial and employment history. It’s our goal to estimate what you might be able to afford and the loan amount you could realistically pay back.

What you’ll need

Be prepared to provide some basic information, such as your name and employment information. Feel free to have some key questions prepared so you can ask your Loan Originator (LO) while you have their attention.

Pre-approval tips

Remember this is just the beginning of the process, so keep an open mind and establish a good connection with your LO. They will be your main point of contact over the course of your loan.

2. Find the right home

What to expect

Let us help you find an expert real estate agent in your area at no additional cost to you. We have a network of highly rated real estate agents who have the experience and knowledge to help you find the right home. If you already have an agent, we can make that partnership seamless. With your permission, we’ll send your pre-approval letter directly to them and give them all the updates necessary to keep your file up-to-date as you search.

What you’ll need

A computer and an Internet connection. Most home buyers begin their search online where countless resources exist. You’ll also want to compile a list of wants and needs to map out your goals and manage your expectations—and communicate these to your real estate agent.

Home search tips

Be realistic about your search and remember that your LO and your real estate agent are there to help you and answer questions. Once you’ve chosen the right home, ensure that the purchase price on your pre-approval letter matches the offer that you are ready to submit for the house.

3. Gather info for application

What to expect

Here comes the paperwork—good thing most of it will be digital! We’ll need to obtain several different forms of documentation to get your loan paperwork ready. Most borrowers consider this the hardest part of the entire process because of all the documentation required. But, we work our hardest to make sure this part of the process runs smoothly and efficiently for you, however, your cooperation is crucial to close on time.

What you’ll need

If you are employed (not self-employed) you’ll need to provide us with the following files:

U.S. Individual Income Tax Returns (IRS Form 1040) for the two most recent tax years, including all schedules (the federal portion only). If you have not filed for either of the two most recent tax years, provide a copy of the Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return (IRS Form 2350) and a copy of your most recently filed return. (Note that the Request for Transcript of Tax Return [IRS Form 4506-T] does not provide complete tax returns. You must provide complete tax returns to fulfill this requirement.)

For each current job you hold, provide pay stubs that cover the last 30 days and a Wage and Tax Statement (IRS Form W-2) for the two most recent tax years.

Application tips

Work closely with and respond quickly to your assigned LO to ensure that you move swiftly through the application process. Remember that, although this part requires a lot, all of this is necessary so that we can verify you are capable of making payments on your loan. Note that your employment status will determine the documents you’ll need to provide. Check out our complete list of mortgage documentation by employment type.

4. Secure your rate and lock your loan

What to expect

Once you’ve found your home and schedule a closing date, it’s time to find your optimal lock period. Each lock period has a different rate and price combination. We will consider the price implications of each lock time and take into account your best interest. At this point, we will also work with you to schedule your home appraisal and/or inspection. Once we’ve secured your rate and completed necessary scheduling, your loan will be assigned a Processor to get your loan to the finish line.

What you’ll need

The executed purchase contract.

Rate/Lock tips

Schedule your appraisal as soon as possible and start shopping for homeowners insurance. Do not open any other accounts or apply for credit. Doing so may impact your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) and may hurt your chances of closing on time. See our detailed list of mortgage dos and don’ts to set yourself up for success.

5. Processing

What to expect

Now that we have your most up-to-date documentation, your Processor will gather any remaining items and submit your loan to Underwriting. From there, we will issue your Conditional Approval Letter, your Processor will work out any remaining conditions, and they will partner with your agent so they know we are on track to close.

What you’ll need

Once your loan is final approved, you will need to schedule a closing appointment to sign the final documents.

Processing tips

Be sure to schedule your signing as soon as possible so that all parties can plan accordingly. Your cooperation will help ensure a timely closing!

6. The closing table

What to expect

Once you are ready to close and your closing appointment is scheduled, just show up and be ready to sign. Your closing package will be waiting for you to review with an attorney and/or notary.

What you’ll need

Your ID and the necessary funding to complete the transaction.

Closing tips

Practice your John Hancock. And don’t forget your ID!

7. Welcome home!

What to expect

Congratulations! You may now move into your new home. Expect lots of housewarming gifts, friendly smiles from the neighbors, and the warmth and excitement that comes with the beginning of a new chapter.

What you’ll need

We love to join our new homeowners in the excitement of moving in. Snap a photo of your move-in moment—whether that’s a selfie on your front porch, unpacking your boxes, or a shot of your home’s interior—send us the snapshot with #moveinmoment on social media for a chance to be featured on any one of our channels!

Move-in tips

Throw a housewarming party so your friends and family can see your new place. Introduce yourself to the neighbors. Don’t forget to send us your #moveinmoment!

Ready to make moves?

One of our loan originators is standing by to assist you with your free rate quote.
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