Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process

We get a lot of questions from people thinking about buying a home – whether for the first time or for the first time in a long time. Here’s a great article from Keeping Current Matters that will demystify the process.

You might also want to read our post “Budget Like It’s 1999 and Other Tips for First Time Homebuyers”!


Taking Fear Out of the Mortgage Process

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (the average down payment on all loans was 11% last month, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of which perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all of your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.


Email The Belt Team for our list of trusted lenders. They can walk you through the process in great detail and explain each step along the way, estimate monthly payments and tell you how much cash you’ll really need to have.

Contact us to set up a FREE Buyer Consultation. We will show you our “7 Steps To Your Dream Home”!

Search The Belt Team’s state-of-the-art home finder site.

What Info Is Needed To Apply For A Mortgage

Documents Needed For Mortgage Loan

If you’re thinking about buying a home, one of the most important things you should do is get a loan PRE-APPROVAL (not just a loan pre-qualification, but a FULL approval.)

This will let you know what you qualify for and it will be something a Seller expects to see when you write a contract.

Your Realtor can connect you with reputable, trustworthy lenders.

Here’s a list of some of the paperwork you’ll likely need to gather to give to your lender:

  • Most recent 30 days of pay stubs (if you are an employee)
  • Year-to-date profit & loss statement (if you are self-employed)
  • Last two years’ W-2’s & personal tax returns
  • Last two years’ 1099’s & business tax returns (if self-employed)
  • Two most recent months of bank statements for each account (all pages – savings, checking, money market, securities, etc.)
  • Copy of driver’s license
  • Mortgage statements, insurance info, property tax bill & HOA statement for each property owned (if you do not own property and are renting – contact info for landlord)
  • Divorce decree and separation agreement (if applicable)

Once you make application – here are a few tips:


  • Respond quickly to requests for additional info from the lender (and there are almost always additional requests or clarifications needed)
  • Stay current on all your existing accounts
  • Pay off any existing collections, judgments or tax liens


  • Open new credit cards
  • Take out a new loan or lease
  • Don’t let people run credit checks on you
  • Don’t make any major purchases (furniture, car, boat)

Once your loan is approved, you are ready to start looking for your DREAM HOME!

Search our state-of-the-art home search site.

Call (703) 242-3975 or click here to schedule a FREE Buyer Consultation. We are happy to provide a personalized consult that will include:

  • Lifestyle Interview
  • Market Overview
  • Overview of the Homebuying Process
  • Your Home & Neighborhood Wish List
  • The Best Advocate & Assembling Your Team
  • What’s Next

In 2015, The Belt Team was named to the “Top 20 Best Real Estate Agents” in Virginia list by Real Trends, as well as listed in Washingtonian Magazine’s “Best of Issue” for Realtors.

Best Real Estate Agents in Virginia 2015 - The Belt TeamWashingtonian Best Real Estate Agents 2015




Mortgage Minute: New Expanded FHA & VA Guidelines From NPF Benefit Home Buyers

Today’s “Mortgage Minute” is just in from our trusted lending partner, Senior Loan Officer Paul Diaz with New Penn Financial! If you’re thinking of buying a home in Northern Virginia this year – this may interest you!

Northern VA Mortgage Financing          Home Mortgages in Northern Virginia


“Please let your homebuyers know that qualifying for an FHA and VA loan with
New Penn Financial has never been easier! With New Penn’s unparalleled customer service and far-reaching guidelines, more borrowers gain access to a mortgage to purchase their new home. Here are some of the things we may be able to do:

  • FICOs (credit scores) starting at 580 (FHA) and 560 (VA)
  • Increased DTI (debt-to-income ratio) limits up to 60%
  • Revised tradeline requirements
  • Government down payment assistance permitted

Note that these are not set-in-stone guidelines, but we may have flexibility in these areas when compensating factors are involved. Examples of compensating factors would be high income, large assets or long time on the job.

When the market is contracting as a whole, New Penn Financial, LLC is expanding what we offer! Don’t hesitate to contact us. You may be pleasantly surprised that you can buy a home sooner than you think!


Contact Paul Diaz at New Penn Financial for full details of program guidelines.

Mortgage Minute For Homebuyers: Long Term Rate Lock For New Construction

Today’s “Mortgage Minute” comes from our trusted lending partner at New Penn Financial. Senior Loan Officer Paul Diaz tells us that his company is now offering a fantastic opportunity for homebuyers looking to buy a new construction  home.

Northern VA Mortgage Financing New Homes Sign

Most lenders lock in interest rates for buyers for a 60 day period. So if you are buying a home that’s under construction and it’s farther than 60 days out to completion, you used to have to worry about what would to happen to interest rates during that time period. Now you don’t!

Here’s what Paul says about the program:

“Building a home may take longer than the usual 60-day mortgage interest rate lock period. In fact, it almost always does! Fortunately, we have a product called “Home Builder Rate Lock Advantage“. With this product, you can lock in your rate for up to 360 days. No more sweating rate increases during construction. If rates drop, just reset to the lower rate. You can’t lose.

Here are the highlights for qualified borrowers:

  • Extended rate lock choices on FHA and conventional fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages
  • The option to reset to a lower market rate before closing or shift to a better fitting mortgage at closing
  • An affordable lock-in fee that may be refunded in closing costs

Our “Home Builder Rate Lock Advantage” means total peace of mind— no matter which way rates go. It’s just one more way that New Penn helps make home ownership easier!”

Contact Paul Diaz.

FREE state-of-the-art home buyer search site

FREE – How Much Is My Home Worth

Mortgage Minute for HomeBuyers: “What’s A Qualified Mortgage?”

New mortgage guidlelines

If you’re buying a home in Northern Virginia, you may have heard talk of new mortgage guidelines & regulations, but aren’t sure what that means for you. So we asked our Partner Paul Diaz, Senior Loan Officer with New Penn Financial, to explain.

Northern VA Mortgage Financing
Paul Diaz


What Is A “Qualified Mortgage”?

Lenders that follow underwriting guidelines and product guidelines exactly when they write a loan will be considered to be making a ‘qualified mortgage”. “Qualified mortgages” will provide lenders and borrowers certain legal protections in the event the borrower should default.

Lenders will more than likely still write mortgage loans that are not considered to be qualified mortgages, but because they will lose some protection should the borrower default on a mortgage loan, most other lenders might just stick to the new definition and stay within the guidelines. This may mean less flexibility in the marketplace for some buyers.

Parameters for a qualified mortgage are as follows:

  • Have a loan term of 30 years or less.
  • Not have negative amortization (monthly payment must cover all the interest due).
  • Not be an “interest only” loan.
  • Not be a “balloon payment” loan where a large lump sum of the principal is due back at one time (exception made for small lenders).
  • Upfront points and fees must not exceed 3 percent of the total loan amount. Note: This cap on points and fees may make lenders less likely to offer smaller loans (less than $100,000).
  • Debt-to-income ratio may not exceed 43 percent. *Note: This can be superseded if the loan is originated and kept in portfolio by a qualified small lender, or if the loan is approved by FHA, VA, USDA, RHS, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. But it may become harder for people with higher debt loads to get approved for a new home if they cannot stay below the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio.

This last guideline is likely to affect many Buyers in Northern Virginia.


If you’re wondering how much of a mortgage you can qualify for, contact our partner Paul Diaz at New Penn Financial. He can help you analyze the loan product that works best for your needs and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. This gives you the power of a CASH buyer!

Search Homes For Sale in Northern Virginia

What Is My Home Worth?


Good News For Those Who Have Been Through Foreclosure, Short Sale or Bankruptcy

Here’s this week’s Mortgage Minute from our lending partner Paul Diaz at New Penn Financial:

Northern VA Mortgage Financing   Paul Diaz New Penn Financial

HUD announced some good news in August for borrowers who have been through foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy – and lenders just started to roll it out this month. If this profile fits you and you’re ready to buy a home, here’s what you need to know about the program we are offering:

Program For Shorter Waiting Period after Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, and Short Sale.

The waiting period after a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or short sale has been reduced to just one year from the event!

Thumbs Up To The Belt Team

Program Requirements:

1. Purchase Transactions Only

2. Housing counseling must be completed 30 days prior to loan application

3. The bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale must be related directly to the loss of job OR 20% income reduction for at least 6 months

4. Credit must have been satisfactory before the bankruptcy, foreclosure or short sale and be satisfactory for a minimum of 12 months after the event.

*** Program requirements may change

Belt Team CEO Terry Belt comments, “We are thrilled to be partnering with a lender who shares our values and whose mission is to help change lives for the better. Not only does New Penn Financial offer the program above, but they have all kinds of niche products that fit the many needs of our clients.”

Contact Paul Diaz at New Penn Financial for more information. Buying a home could happen sooner than you hoped!

Home Buyers – Is There A Difference Between Getting Pre-Qualified & Pre-Approved?

If you’re thinking about buying a home at some point, you may be interested to know that there IS a BIG difference between getting pre-qualified for a loan and getting pre-approved for a loan. Find out more in this one minute update from “This Month In Real Estate”:

The Belt Team has trusted relationships with lenders who are competitive & can be counted upon to do what they say they’re going to do. (That’s not always the case!) If you would like to get pre-approved for a loan, contact The Belt Team and we’ll put you in touch.