After months of searching, finally finding the perfect home is really, really thrilling. When you start obsessing over paint swatches and daydreaming about how you’ll adorn the fireplace mantle before you’ve even made an offer, you know you have a keeper.
Visualizing your new space is so exciting that it can be easy to forget you have to actually pay for the house before you can decorate it. Oh yeah – that little detail.
Unless you have a beefy enough savings account that will allow you to pay for your new digs in cash, you’re going to have to work with a mortgage lender. Yep – the smart, strong, independent woman you are will have to swallow her pride and ask for help to buy the home of her dreams.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t like borrowing money from anyone – let alone borrowing in six figure range. Yikes! Signing yourself up for such a huge amount of debt can be a little scary, but you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in the majority: 70 percent of American homeowners make monthly mortgage payments on their homes. And that’s okay.
Believe it or not, having mortgage debt is actually a good thing. Your home is an investment that will (ideally) appreciate in value over time. Not to mention, a mortgage typically has a lower interest rate than other types of debt (I’m looking at you, Nordstrom store card). Plus, the interest you pay on your mortgage is tax deductible. So don’t sweat it!
Once you’ve found the perfect home, the next step toward making it yours is selecting a lender to spot you the cash. Here are a few tips for choosing the right guy or gal for the job:
1) Ask for a recommendation. Your real estate agent has years of experience helping hopeful homeowners secure financing, and she should be able to point you in the right direction. Close friends and family members are good resources, too.
2) Do your research. Look up potential lenders with Zillow’s lender reviews tool and through the Better Business Bureau. Read consumer ratings and note any complaints made against potential lenders to help you make a decision.
3) Interview your top choices. Once you’ve narrowed your possibilities down to three or four lenders, it’s time to call around and ask some questions. Brian Martucci, a senior loan officer with GetLoans.com, specifically stresses the importance of inquiring about turnaround time since so many mortgage loans today are delayed. Here are some additional questions you can ask:
a. What are your loan programs?
b. Can you estimate closing costs for my loan?
c. Can you estimate and explain your fees?
4) Follow your gut. If you connect particularly well with a lender who takes the time to explain your mortgage options in language you can understand, offers you a low rate and is highly responsive, don’t hesitate to sign on that dotted line.