Applying for a mortgage is an exhilarating step toward homeownership, but it’s also a journey fraught with potential pitfalls. While most mortgage advice guides focus on what you should do, let’s take a different angle today. Here are things you should NOT do when applying for a mortgage and why they could derail your homebuying dreams.
1. Don’t Go On a Spending Spree
It’s easy to get carried away with fantasies of furnishing your new home or even buying a new car to park in the driveway. However, making large purchases can be a grave mistake. Such spending can increase your debt-to-income ratio—a key metric lenders use to determine your loan eligibility. A spike here might make lenders question your ability to manage monthly mortgage payments.
2. Resist the Temptation to Open or Close Credit Accounts
This might seem harmless or even proactive, but both actions can negatively impact your credit score. Opening new accounts results in hard inquiries on your credit report, potentially lowering your score. Closing accounts, on the other hand, can reduce the length of your credit history. Lenders favor stability, and these actions can signal instability.
3. Job Hopping is a No-Go
A steady employment history is gold in the eyes of lenders. It demonstrates consistent income and financial stability. Switching jobs, especially to a lower-paying one or a different field, can raise eyebrows and add complications to your application.
4. Don’t Make Undocumented Large Deposits
While a sudden cash influx might seem beneficial, it can raise suspicions about the legitimacy of your funds. Always be prepared to provide clear documentation for any large, non-payroll deposits to avoid delays or additional scrutiny.
5. Never Neglect Your Bills
Timeliness is next to godliness in the mortgage world. Even a single skipped payment or delay can harm your credit score, signaling potential irresponsibility to lenders.
6. Co-signing is Not Your Friend
Co-signing a loan might feel like helping a loved one, but it’s a dagger in the heart of your mortgage application. Even if you aren’t the primary debtor, as a co-signer, you’re liable. This responsibility impacts your debt-to-income ratio, and should the primary borrower default, you’ll be on the hook.
7. Avoid Settling Old Collections or Charge-offs
Ironically, settling old debts can momentarily drop your credit score. If you’re considering this, consult with a financial advisor to strategize the best approach without jeopardizing your mortgage application.
8. No New Loans, Please!
Taking out new loans or accumulating fresh debt paints a picture of financial instability. Avoid personal loans, payday loans, or new credit card debts to maintain a clean slate during the mortgage process.
9. Honesty is the Best Policy
Never lie or embellish details on your application. Not only can falsifications lead to loan denial, but they can also have legal repercussions.
10. Keep Things Steady After Pre-approval
Securing a pre-approval might feel like the finish line, but it’s just a milestone. Continue practicing financial prudence until your loan is finalized. A pre-approval isn’t a guarantee; it’s contingent on maintaining the financial profile you presented.
Mortgage applications are a balancing act. On one side, you have your dreams and aspirations, and on the other, the very tangible metrics and criteria set by lenders. By being aware of the don’ts and maintaining a steady financial demeanor, you can navigate this process with fewer hiccups, ensuring your path to homeownership is as smooth as possible.