Talk to a lender either before starting the process of looking for a home or as early as possible in the process. The biggest thing I see with clients is not knowing their budget and/or down payment. Although there are many internet tools that can help give you an idea of what you can afford and your financial situation, they fail to have the knowledge of an experienced lender and the ability to explain the best course of action. Another thing to look into is your tax write offs, if you are self employed and most of your income is in tax write-offs it can be hard for lenders to verify your income and qualifications. During the process of getting a mortgage try to limit big purchases such as a new car or changing jobs, as this can be a red flag for lenders. Talking to a lender early on can give borrowers a clear idea of their financial situation and an action plan to be ready to purchase a home within a realistic timeline.
Do I have to do a 20% down payment?
Not necessarily. The reason you always hear about a 20% down payment is because when 80% or less of your home is financed, it is not required to purchase mortgage insurance which is a re-occurring monthly expense for the life of the loan. Although you can put less then 20% down, you are paying for it every month with having to pay mortgage insurance. Some lenders will let borrowers put as little as 3% down on a mortgage vs the 20%. When it comes to deciding a down payment, it's best to talk to a lender first to see what they recommend for your situation, but you do not HAVE to put down 20%.
Is it better to make bi-weekly payments vs monthly?
The normal mortgage payment cycle is monthly but some borrowers have turned to making bi-weekly payments to minimize interest. Although in the long run this does take some interest off from the loan, it is not necessarily worth the hassle each month. Usually doing a bi-weekly payment structure will require borrowers to do an extra manual payment each month which can be tedious to do. This is one of those topics that should be talked about with a lender before getting a mortgage to see what the process looks like.
When or should I refinance?
Currently mortgage rates are at an all time low but what does this exactly mean? There's a couple ways to refinance your home if you are in a position to do so. Firstly, you can do a rate-term refinance which changes the loan term and the rates. Secondly, you can do a cash out refinance depending on how much you have paid into the home. This cash out refinance can be used for renovations, other debts, savings, and etc. Sometimes with this type of refinance borrowers won't stay in long enough to recoup their closing costs. When thinking about any type of refinance or even just looking at eligibility it is again best to talk to a lender as early as possible.
Overall, it is best to do as much research as you can but seek the knowledge of industry professionals early on so you can make the best decisions for you and your family. If you are looking to start the process or you have started the process of looking for a home, make sure you have talked to a lender.