Q&A - Your Mortgage

Buying Your Home


The modern mortgage market offers a variety of mortgage loans catering to the needs of homebuyers. The titles and details of these plans can become confusing, especially as new types are introduced continuously. You can make sense of these loan types, however, if you understand the basic principles that govern all mortgage loans.  Again, you can look to your real estate professional for assistance.

Basic Principles of all Mortgage Loans

All mortgage loans have one of the following features:

As you learn more about the types of financing available, you will notice that some loans appear to have more favorable terms. That may indicate that those loans are, indeed, bargains (and it does pay to shop around), but usually it means that those loans could have some feature that is less appealing to borrowers. For example, shorter-term loans often have slightly lower interest rates compared to longer-term loans. However, the monthly payment for the same amount of principal may be higher because of the shorter term. Variable rate loans usually have much lower interest rates to compensate for the risk the borrower accepts that interest rates will rise in the future.


 What Is Your Home Worth?

Check current market values for your home and view profiles of potential buyers.


The Loan Process

The steps below outline the process of obtaining and closing your loan.  Though they can vary depending on lender and loan program, they are fairly typical.


1. The Loan Application

The first step is to meet with your lender (loan consultant, loan officer, mortgage banker, loan originator, etc. - their titles vary) and determine which loan program fits your needs and goals.  It is extremely important that you furnish them all of the information they require and that it is accurate and up to date.  This will help prevent your loan from being denied later in the process.


2. The Qualification

Qualification (a.k.a. pre-qualification or pre-approval) usually takes around 24 hours for a conventional loan and slightly longer for non-conventional loan programs. If you are working with a real estate broker, your lender will forward a copy of your pre-qualification letter to him/her (or them if you are working with a team of brokers). This will aid them and, thus, you when you submit an offer on a property (more on that here).


3. The Documentation

As mentioned in step one, it is vitally important to be thorough, accurate, and timely with every piece of documentation that is requested of you. More often than not, delays in the processing of loans can be traced to paperwork and the inability to submit everything that your lender has requested (signed and dated where required). Most lenders will require the following information (and possibly more) in order to effectively process your loan application:


 *** THE HUNT ***

Ideally, it is at this point in the process that you will begin to actively look at potential properties with your real estate broker. Rember that pre-qualifcation letter in Step 2 above? That will tell you how much you can afford and will be invaluable in setting an upper dollar limit to your search parameters. Again, more on that here.


4. The Appraisal

Lenders require an appraisal on all home sales. By knowing the true value of the home, the borrower is protected from overpaying. Once you have an accepted offer on a property, an appraisal will be ordered by your lender. If this is a purchase transaction, the appraisal will typically take place after your home inspection is completed and approved. This generally takes five to seven days and may be longer (or shorter), depending on volume.


5. The Title Report

This was ordered earlier (through a title company) by the listing agent in a purchase transaction or by your advisor if you are refinancing and should have been received by now. It will show if there are liens or other problems with the property that may delay or prevent closing.


6. The Submission

At this point all the information collected is organized by your loan processor and sent to an underwriter for approval. Depending on the lender, volume, and product type, this can take as little as 24 to 72 hours.


7. The Conditions

The underwriter will send back an approval which usually includes some conditions. These may be "prior to doc" or "prior to closing." It is very important that any of these requiring action or documentation be taken care of immediately. Any delay will cause a delay in signing. Once all conditions have been met, documents are sent to the underwriter for final review and approval. This generally takes another 24 to 72 hours.


8. The Docs

When everything is approved by the underwriter, the final documents can be ordered. These are the papers you will sign to close and fund your loan. These take 24 to 48 hours to be completed. They are then sent to the title company.


9. The Signing

When the title company has worked their magic with the numbers, they will call and set up an appointment for you to sign. This usually takes about 24 hours after they receive the documentation. These are then sent to the lender.


10. The Funding & Recording

Once all of the signatures and closing conditions are checked, the loan is approved for funding and recording. This usually occurs 24 to 48 hours after signing, though sometimes additional signatures or conditions may need to be met which could cause a delay.


 *** CLOSING ***

Documents transferring title will now be officially recorded by the County Recorder.


As you can see, each step leads into the next. While the process is not overly complex, it is dependant on all parties comunicating effectively and in a timely & efficient manner to keep your transaction moving ahead smoothly and without delay.


General Dos & Don'ts



See also this handy infographic from AmeriFirst Home Mortgage.


How long will it take to close?

This depends on a number of factors. Arguably the biggest of them is how well communication is working between all parties - client(s), lender, real estate broker(s), title company, etc. This loan calendar tool developed by Waterstone Mortgage can give you a a quick estimate.  Simply enter your loan application date & desired closing date and the calendar will automatically fill in all the important loan milestones along with their anticipated dates. It’s an easy and useful way to get started in the home loan process and better understand it.


More Information

Our local title companies have a number of informational documents to assist you with the closing process.

All original content, formatting, and layout © Mitch Darby. All rights reserved.
Information provided deemed reliable, but not guaranteed and is subject to change without notice.