Let’s throw this one on the “mini-rant, but really, I’m just trying to give you a heads up” pile, shall we?
Are you considering buying your first home? GREAT! The reward of owning your own home is stupendous… Or so I’ve heard… Cause I’m not THERE yet. Now let me take a bit of the sparkle and shine off of the mortgage finding and house hunting process. Do you want something as BIG and IMPORTANT as a home? Yea? Then pack your patience and brush up on your letter writing skills. While you are at it, buy yourself a big binder and a three-hole punch.
Some people have the false illusion that with just a few documents that BOOM, you are approved for a mortgage. Wroooong. You can get PRE-approved that way, but that is in NO way the finish line of the mortgage process. I present to you Exhibit A:
THIS is what I call my “Casa Folder”. (Casa is the Spanish word for house). This is only a FRACTION of all the documentation I needed to provide on my journey to finding a home and getting approved for a mortgage. This expandable folder represents SOLELY the time frame of having an offer accepted by a seller and submitting my bank application. In this folder I have a PILE of letters with supporting documentation. I also have copies of all of my important “Post-Contract” documents: Appraisal, Inspection, Signed Copy of Contract, etc…”
I warn you now. You will write letters. You will RE-write letters. You will write a letter and then have to re-do it because you forgot to add FIVE words that the lender wants on the letter. Here is my BIGGEST tip: Use a cloud service (like Google Drive, DropBox, SkyDrive, etc…) that you can access anywhere. Save EACH INDIVIDUAL letter in that drive. Why? If you need to make revisions you will NOT have to re-invent the wheel. Just make a few updates and BAM! Letter is DONE. Here is another tip: When your lender asks you for a letter, make sure to clarify EXACTLY how they want it written or what key words/sentences are needed, and DON’T waste time by saying you already did a similar letter. Just write it. If they want an explanation as to why you wore navy blue socks with black slacks, don’t ask why. Just write it. If they want to know why you spent $1.49 on your debit card for a pack of gum at the store, don’t ask why. Just write it.
Another important aspect of the mortgage/home-buying process that you need to come to terms with is: Hurry UP and Wait… When your lender or realtor need something from you, you better be ALLLL over it. You can’t blame any delays on your lender or realtor if YOU are the one who is not providing necessary information in a timely manner. Once you send them what they need, hang back. It is okay to follow-up, but you have to let the process work as well. The common time frame from contract to closing in South Florida is about 30-45 days, and that is if all the stars align! I’m not saying to just sit back and wait for people to do everything. Just don’t call them every hour. A friendly email every other morning for a status update is pretty fair. But make sure YOU check YOUR email on a frequent basis. Don’t expect your lender or realtor to see your email and respond within 5 minutes. And DON’T got a day or two without checking YOUR email. You should check your email mid/late-morning and mid/late-afternoon. Communication and accessibility only help the process go by smoother.
With all this being said, I hope you pack your patience and become a letter writing pro! It only means that you are THAT much closer to purchasing your first home!