difference between mip and pmi

Understanding the Difference Between MIP and PMI

Owning a home remains a significant aspect of the American dream, but it’s more complicated than many realize. As potential homeowners begin obtaining a mortgage, they quickly discover that they need mortgage insurance, a good credit score, and a regular income. To help simplify some of this, here’s a look at the difference between MIP and PMI and how they may affect home loans in Tucson by Altitude Home Loans.

What Is Mortgage Insurance?

When speaking with a mortgage company for the first time, many home seekers expect to pay a minor downpayment on their ideal home. Sticker shock sets in when they learn that most lenders need at least a 20% downpayment on the total of their home’s purchase price. Lenders know that most people don’t have that kind of money, using mortgage insurance to fill that gap.

Mortgage insurance allows you to put a lower downpayment on your home. However, a lower downpayment makes you look less invested in the long-term ownership and payment on a home or property. With mortgage insurance, your mortgage lender has protection if you can no longer make your monthly mortgage payment.

Defining MIP, or Mortgage Insurance Premiums

MIP protects federally backed loans. Typical loans covered by MIP include FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans and first-time home buyer loans. Borrowers with low credit, low income, and an inability to pay a significant downpayment benefit from MIP.

An upfront mortgage insurance premium, or UFMIP, equals 1.75% of a home loan’s total amount and tacks that additional amount onto loan closing costs. Your monthly mortgage payment includes an equally-divided annual premium for your mortgage insurance, usually .45% to 1.05% of your loan split into 12 payments.

With mortgage insurance premiums, borrowers may pay as little as 3.5% down on their home purchase. They may also receive a better interest rate on their loan, though they may pay more for their mortgage insurance than PMI borrowers. Understanding the difference between MIP and PMI helps you choose which option fits you best.

Defining PMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance

PMI offers greater term flexibility to eligible home buyers who qualify for conventional mortgages. The cost of private mortgage insurance depends on factors such as loan amount, credit score, and annual household income. Generally, PMI borrowers present a lower foreclosure risk to mortgage lenders.

If you choose to pay for a home with a conventional loan, know that PMI may range from .5% to 2% of your initial loan amount. Most homeowners can expect their PMI to be around 1% of their loan. PMI payments typically cost significantly less than MIP.

Can I Cancel Mortgage Insurance?

You can request the removal of PMI after you’ve reached 20% of your home equity. FHA MIP requires that you make a down payment of more than 10% of the home loan to qualify you for cancellation. If you don’t pay at least 10% down, you must pay for MIP throughout your loan’s lifetime.

Are you interested in purchasing a home in Tucson, AZ? Contact Altitude Home Loans to pre-qualify today. Learn more about Private Mortgage Insurance and about the difference between MIP and PMI. 

private mortgage insurance altitude home loans

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance, and Do I Have to Pay For It?

When owning a home, homeowners insurance plays an integral role in protecting your investment and ensuring you aren’t responsible for excessive costs. However, it can be challenging to sort through the different types of home insurance to determine what is essential. If you are considering home loans in Tucson, this article will explain private mortgage insurance and whether you need to pay for it.

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance that protects mortgage lenders in case the borrower fails to repay the debt. While this coverage does not protect you from the costs of home ownership, it is essential to allow lenders to offer loans to a broader range of applicants. By protecting themselves from the risk of nonpayment, lenders can take more significant risks with the loans they offer.

While PMI is critical to many mortgage agreements, it isn’t always needed. Lenders do not require this coverage for all loans, so read the following section to determine when lenders will apply this cost.

When Is PMI Required?

Although PMI is an unavoidable cost for many home buyers, not every mortgage includes coverage. Conventional loans often have this coverage, but the down payment makes an impact as well. Many homeowners can avoid paying for this coverage by providing a more significant down payment or boosting credit scores to improve offers. 

Do I Need To Pay For PMI?

While PMI may be a burden for some potential home buyers, many people need to pay the cost in order to purchase a house. Lenders commonly apply the cost to your monthly payments but may also make other payment options available. One of these alternative options is typically a one-time payment, which can be an excellent option for those interested in minimizing monthly expenses.

Get Mortgage Help in Tucson Today

Purchasing a home is a stressful but rewarding process. While there are many decisions to make and factors to consider, owning a home you can genuinely be proud of makes everything worth it. Additionally, working with an experienced and helpful mortgage lender can dramatically simplify the process and help you get the keys to your new home as soon as possible.

At Altitude Home Loans, we strive to make every step of the home buying process as easy as possible for our clients. You can visit our website to learn more about the mistakes that first-time home buyers make and find other helpful articles and answers to frequently asked questions. When you turn to Altitude Home Loans, you can ensure your buying process goes as smoothly as possible.

We offer excellent rates and friendly service to clients across Arizona. Our team is passionate about helping community members achieve their goal of home ownership, so never hesitate to reach out with questions or concerns. Now that you know about private mortgage insurance call Altitude Home Lending at 520-500-1010 to find the best home mortgage lender in Tucson.

underwater mortgage

Underwater Mortgage: What it Means?

Purchasing a home is a significant investment. When values decline, homeowners can be left devastated with an underwater mortgage.

At Altitude Home Loans, we understand the changing market and can help you know where you stand. Call us, Tucson’s trustworthy home purchasing officers, at 520-500-1010 to find out more.

What Does It Mean to be Underwater?

You are underwater if you owe more on your home loan than the home is worth. Your home loses value due to declining property values. Unfortunately, you must continue to pay the home mortgage for its initial value unless you take steps to mitigate it.

Why do Property Values Decline?

Home values decline when the economy declines. When the economy falls, people lose jobs and income, making them less likely to buy homes. Therefore, a decline in home buying leads to a reduction in home values.

Other declines occur based on changing neighborhood demographics, like when businesses close in one area and rebuild in another. Homebuyers want homes closer to the consumer industry with newer stores, restaurants, and jobs.

The presence of fewer homebuyers reduces the value of homes that remain on the market. If the average home in your area is selling for less, your home value may decrease. 

How Do I Know If I Am Underwater?

Compare your mortgage balance with the current value of your home.

Request a payoff statement from your lender. Include the principal balance, interest, taxes, and other loan balances such as home equity loans.

Review real estate websites and compare the recent sale prices of homes in your area with similar square footage and amenities. If the average sale price is lower than you owe, you may have an underwater mortgage. Schedule a property evaluation through your real estate or loan company to determine the actual value of your home.

What Are My Options?

If you are not planning to move soon and have no issues paying your current mortgage, you don’t need to do anything. You can continue to make monthly payments until the market value returns to normal.

If you want or need to sell, you have a few options, including:

  • Selling for the best value and owing the difference
  • Refinancing to modify your current mortgage rate or interest rate
  • Requesting a short sale where the lender sells the home at the best value and takes a loss on the remaining amount

Each has pros and cons.

The safest is selling and owing the difference since it does not impact your credit score.

Refinancing is challenging because you must have a good standing on your current loan. You cannot be behind or have missed a mortgage payment in the last 12 months.

The short sale will negatively reflect your credit score and make it difficult to get future credit and home loans.

Which Option Is Best?

Talk to your lender or a home loan refinancing expert if you aren’t sure. Altitude Home Loans is Tucson’s leading home loan company. Our experienced team of experts can explain your underwater mortgage options and help you decide. For more information, or to learn more about loans for first-time home buyers, contact Altitude Home Loans at 520-500-1010.

prequalified vs preapproved

Prequalified vs. Preapproved Loans: What’s the Difference?

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or moving up the property ladder, the loan process can seem complicated. Mortgage loans are essential for most aspiring homeowners. Fortunately, the process can be straightforward with proper guidance.

At Altitude Home Loans, our team understands that a bit of information goes a long way toward relieving stress during the home buying process. We’re Tucson’s trusted home loan officers, and we’re here to help.

In this blog, we talk about two stages in the mortgage loan process that people often get mixed up: prequalified vs. preapproved. If you’re just getting started with your home loan applications, brushing up on what each of these phases means will help you prepare for every step of the journey toward your new home.

To learn more about home loans, buying a home, and more, browse our blog or reach out to us at Altitude Home Loans today.

What Is Mortgage Prequalification?

If you’re preparing to buy a home, you may already be familiar with the term “prequalification.” During this stage, homebuyers receive estimates on their borrowing potential. Lenders determine a buyer’s borrowing potential using several factors, including asset information, credit checks, and income.

The primary difference between a prequalified vs. preapproved loan application is that preapproved loans have been vetted and backed by the lender. Prequalified loans typically require more research before reaching preapproval. Many lenders may provide prequalification based on self-reported financial details, so be sure to be as accurate as possible.

If you’re an aspiring buyer beginning the home loan application process, it pays to:

  • Check your credit score
  • Obtain records of your tax returns
  • Collect proof of income
  • Obtain banking statements

Lenders generally require these documents during the early stages of mortgage loan applications. Having them handy will speed up the process for you and the lender.

What Is Mortgage Preapproval?

Mortgage preapproval comes after prequalification. During this stage, lenders take extra steps to verify a potential buyer’s credit history, income, and other financial information.

A preapproval letter provides buyers with proof of borrowing status and helps them shop for homes within an appropriate price range. Preapproval is a critical step and is as close to buying a home as a buyer can get without a purchase contract in hand.

How Long Does Preapproval Take?

Preapproval times may vary depending on the lending institution. Always check with your lender before beginning the mortgage loan application process. Be sure to ask critical questions such as:

  • Application requirements
  • What to expect during the application process
  • Potential interest rates
  • The current state of the real estate market in your target area

Learn More about Mortgage Loans

If you’re ready to buy a new home, don’t let the complexity of the mortgage loan process stop you short. At Altitude Home Loans, our team is here to help you learn about the steps when buying a house, including what it means to be prequalified vs. preapproved, how to choose the right home for your needs, and more.

To get started on your journey to a new home, reach out to us today. 

the truth about mortgage loans

The Truth About Mortgage Loans: Debunking Common Myths

Mortgage loans help you secure the funds you need to buy the home of your dreams. Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths about these loans. You can learn the truth about mortgage loans with our Altitude Home Loans staff, the home loan experts in Tucson, AZ.

Our team at Altitude Home Loans can answer all your questions about mortgage loans. Please find out more by calling us at 520-500-1010, then reading on to learn the truth about mortgage loans.

Myth #1: You Hurt Your Credit Score When You Shop Around

Generally, repeated inquiries lower your credit score. However, FICO makes exceptions for some inquiries. For example, FICO counts all inquiries of the same type made within a 30-day window as a single inquiry.

Therefore, you can shop around for the best interest rates for your mortgage loan. Just make sure that you do all your checking within the same 30-day period.

Myth #2: You Only Have to Pay the Down Payment Up Front

When you buy a house, you must pay a sizeable down payment in most cases. Some property owners only plan to pay the down payment, counting on their loan to cover the rest of their expenses.

However, in some cases, you’ll face other expenses. For example, most new homeowners need to pay a portion of closing costs. These costs usually come out to around 1-2% of the price for your home. Because homes are so expensive, don’t be surprised if you have to pay thousands of dollars more than you planned.

Myth #3: You Should Always Select a Fixed-Rate Mortgage

For many years, fixed-rate mortgages represented the standard. As a result, most homeowners took out a 30-year mortgage, moved in, and started paying the bank. However, when you consider the truth about mortgage loans, you may find that adjustable-rate mortgages work best in some cases.

In the past, many homeowners avoided adjustable-rate mortgages because the rates could rise, costing them more money. However, these mortgages have rate caps.

In some cases, professionals recommend an adjustable-rate mortgage if you do not plan to stay in your home for a long time. Consider all your options before you purchase real estate and decide which plan suits your needs. 

Myth #4: You Have to Put Down a 20% Down Payment

Traditionally, lenders expected new homeowners to provide a 20% down payment. While you could purchase a house with a smaller down payment, it led to higher interest rates and a requirement to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

These days, you can reduce the amount you’ll pay for a down payment by considering alternate lenders. For example, certain government agencies offer loans for a down payment as low as 3.5%. Considering these options can make it easier to purchase a home without making a large lump-sum payment.

Learn More Facts About Mortgage Loans

Our team at Altitude Home Loans can help you learn the truth about mortgage loans. Learn more about refinancing your home or purchasing a new home by calling us today at 520-500-1010. We’ll help you cut through the myths surrounding mortgage loans until only the truth remains.

Mortgage Process

Mortgage Process Steps

Approved Loan

The mortgage industry is a significant part of the US economy and is one of the biggest in the world. The mortgage rates are at an all-time low of 3.08% as of March 2021, spurring many home buyers. However, the mortgage process is quite daunting, especially for a first-time buyer. It is not always that you enter into debt with that many zeros.

A proper understanding of the mortgage loan process increases the chances of approval. Not only that, but it also helps you ask the right question. The process follows the following distinct steps including:

  • Budget Estimation
  • Pre-approval
  • House Hunting
  • Mortgage Application
  • Underwriting
  • Closing

In this article, we take you through the mortgage loan process in detail from budgeting to closing.

The Process of Getting a Mortgage

A mortgage is a type of loan used to finance a property, the latter being the collateral. It is generally a secured loan where the lender holds your property in collateral until the loan is paid in full.

The mortgage process itself starts with the borrowers applying with one or more lenders. The latter requires proof of the borrower’s repaying capability, including bank statements, tax returns, and employment proof. Furthermore, the lender will also run a credit check as a part of the loan approval process.

Once the loan is approved, the lender offers a preapproved amount at a specific interest rate. Buyers also have the option of applying for the loan before buying a home called preapproval. This gives you an edge in a tight property market.

Once the buyer, seller, and the lender agree, they come together for a closing meeting. At this point, the buyer makes the down payment to the mortgage lender. The seller then transfers the ownership to the buyer and receives the purchase price.

What Is the First Step in Getting a Mortgage?

The first step in any mortgage process is research. As with any significant financial decision, take time out to research the market. First, list the properties and the neighborhoods you like, followed by the asking prices. Next, see how long the houses stay in the market. This gives you an idea about the housing trend of the region.

Furthermore, take time to understand the process and the steps involved. That way, you know what to expect and get everything ready from your end.

15 Steps of a Mortgage Loan Process

Buying a new home is a big step yet exciting phase for everyone involved. However, the all too important mortgage can be overwhelming. Understanding the process and the technicalities can help you make the right decisions. Moreover, it also helps you to stay organized and be in control.

1. Prepare Your Budget

It is safer to kick off the mortgage loan process with a budget estimation. In many ways, that helps you to set realistic expectations not only with the house but also the mortgage.

Your purchase price should be three to five times the annual household income as a rule of thumb. This excludes the 20% down payment. Also, take into consideration your debt and financial situation.

Alternatively, you can also calculate the maximum monthly mortgage payment you can afford. Then work backward towards the maximum house price you can afford. According to the US Census Bureau’s 2019 American Housing Survey, the median monthly mortgage payment is $1200.

The mortgage payments include the principal, interest, and the homeowner’s insurance. When you focus on the monthly payment, your budget will account for all the ongoing costs.

2. Get Your Finances in Order

Mortgage Process - Get Your Finances in Order

With the budget ready, assess your finances to see if you are ready to buy a new house? Have you saved enough for a down payment and closing costs? What about your debts? And get ready to have your financials probed.

Buying a home is the most significant financial investment of your lifetime. So, it’s no wonder your lender goes through your financials with a fine-toothed comb. They are wary of substantial debts like student loans and car loans. If you are laden with debt, you may want to take a step back and improve your financial health.

Another point to note is the credit score. Lenders scrutinize your credit history for any cases of discrepancies. The minimum credit score requirement for home loans ranges between 580-620. A higher credit score warrants a better interest rate.

To improve your credit score:

  • Pay outstanding debts
  • Do not open new accounts
  • Avoid too many credit inquiries
  • Dispute errors in your credit report (if possible)

The final point to note is the debt to income ratio. It is a measure of your debt (credit card, car loan, personal loan, and student loan) and your income. A low debt to income ratio increases your chances of loan approval.

3. Choose the Right Mortgage

Have you decided what kind of mortgage you are looking for? Remember, the interest rate also depends on the mortgage that you choose. Moreover, the eligibility criteria also vary depending on the loan.

There are four major loan programs:

VA Loan – Backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are available only for veterans or active service members.

FHA Loan – Insured by the Federal Housing Administration, this loan has a low credit score minimum.

USDA Loan – Backed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the USDA loans are suitable for lower-income borrowers.

Conventional Loan – The government does not insure conventional loans. And hence have strict eligibility criteria. They are suitable for people with solid credit.

Of the above-mentioned loan programs, the mortgage rates for the VA loans are often the lowest.

4. Down Payment

Coming to down payments, VA loans and USDA loans do not need any down payment. Furthermore, FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment and conventional loans 3%. However, they will incur mortgage insurance. With a larger down payment of, say, 20%, you can avoid mortgage insurance. The issue with low or no down payments is that you’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance, which reflects on the monthly payments.

5. Research Mortgage Lenders

From traditional banks to credit unions and online lenders, you have many options. Your choice of mortgage lender depends on the mortgage that you choose. For example, if you choose a VA mortgage, the lender works with military/veteran borrowers.

You may want to consider:

  • The lender’s minimum qualifications should align with that your requirements.
  • Do the interest rates include points? Points are paid fees upfront to reduce the interest.
  • How do you want to communicate with the lender? If you do not care about an in-person service, you can go for an online service as well.
  • Does the lender provide financial services such as down payment assistance?

It is wise to get pre-approved by three mortgage lenders. That way, you can compare the interest rates and choose the one that saves you money. Even a .5% difference in rates can save you thousands of dollars in the loan duration.

6. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

Mortgage Pre-Approval Stamp

A mortgage pre-approval ensures that you have a smooth buying experience. It shows the real estate agent and the seller that you are ready and equipped to buy. Moreover, it gives you an upper hand over the other buyers since you already qualify for a home loan.

Preapprovals are generally a letter from the mortgage lender containing the approved amount. This is based on your savings, credit score, and current income. The lender may also look at your income and asset documentation. Preapproval letters are easy to get provided you prove your eligibility.

Another critical point to remember is that pre-qualification is not pre-approval. The former is a measure of the borrower’s ability to get a mortgage loan. It requires no verification or credit check. On the other hand, the latter means that you are qualified for a loan.

7. Prepare Your Documents

Before the pre-approval, you need to get your documents ready. Gathering the documents ahead reduces the stress, letting you concentrate on house hunting. Then, when the time comes, hand the documents over to the loan officer.

The loan officer will create a loan file with the necessary documentation. The first of which is the mortgage application and credit report. Here are some of the documents you need to have in hand:

  • W2-forms (two years)
  • Pay stubs (30 days)
  • Federal tax returns (2 years)
  • Other sources of income
  • Recent bank statements (2 months)
  • Documentation related to long-term debts such as car loans and student loans
  • Identification card: State issued driver’s license or valid passport
  • Social security number
  • Profit and loss statements if self-employed(2 years)
  • Documentation related to child support and marriage alimony.
  • Details about your recent deposits in your bank account with proof
  • Documentation for any gift certificate or other funds used in your down payment

8. Hire a Real Estate Agent

Mortgage Process - Hire a Real Estate Agent

A skilled real estate agent is critical for your house-hunting process. They can help you look for houses within your budget and in your desired neighborhood. They also guide you through the home buying process. Real estate agents see thousands of homes every year. As a result, they will have a list of homes that fits within your budget along with the features you desire.

9. Get House Hunting

With everything in hand, you can jump right into house hunting. Your agent will have a list of properties for you to look into. Visit the properties with your agent. Choose that you could imagine living with your family.

Depending on your budget, you may not get everything that you desire. Make a list of features arranging based on the priority. This will help you choose the right one that meets your needs.

10. Make an Offer

Now that you have chosen the one that caught your eye, it is time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will now prepare the offer. They will know how to structure the offer and the contingencies to add. So, it’s better to leave them to it. The details in this agreement are negotiable. The sellers may want to make changes and add contingencies from their end as well.

When you make the offer, consider making an earnest money deposit. This is a cash deposit made to show that you are serious about securing the house. It can be as little as $500 or as much as 5% of the purchase price. The earnest money depends on the local custom, so it is safer to keep the real estate agent in the loop.

11. Get a Home Inspection

Mortgage Process - Home Inspection

Once your order is accepted, you may want to get a home inspection firsthand. It gives you an idea about the stability of the house and also the repairs needed (if any). Some of the critical areas the home inspector checks are:

  • Foundation
  • Roofing
  • Home’s Structure
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical

You can use any issues uncovered during a home inspection for negotiation before arriving at a final purchase price.

12. Apply for the Mortgage

You would have completed the mortgage application process during the pre-approval stage. If not, you would have to apply now.

Even with the pre-approval, you would have to submit final documentation before underwriting. For example, your lender would need the purchase agreement and proof of earnest money. Furthermore, they would also require the current income and asset documentation. And any other documents missed during the preapproval.

Within three business days(may change depending on your lender), you will get a loan estimate. The estimate contains the terms and conditions, interest rates, and fees.

13. Have the Home Appraised

The lender will set up an independent appraisal process. This protects you from paying more than the house is worth. During the process, the house is evaluated against similar properties in the same neighborhood.

If the appraised value is lower than the purchase price, you have three options to choose from:

  • First, pay the difference from your pockets at the time of closing.
  • The seller has to lower the value.
  • Walk away from home, provided you have the appraisal clause in the purchase agreement.

14. Mortgage Underwriting

Once the purchase agreement is finalized, it is sent to your banker, who then reviews your options. During the underwriting process, the underwriter verifies your income, debt, assets, and employment.

Since the preapproval lasts for only 90 days, your lender may recheck your credit reports. Therefore, refrain from taking on additional debts for this time being and put your loan in peril.

As a final step, you and the lender will decide when to lock in the mortgage rates. A mortgage rate lock will ensure that the interest remains the same until closing. The lock stays in place for 30-60 days.

Also, the title insurance is brought forward before closing. This is also when you make sure that the seller meets the contingencies as per the agreement.

15. Get Ready to Close

Once the underwriting is complete, the closing meeting is scheduled. It happens either at the attorney’s office (or title company). You’ll need to bring the following documents:

  • Photo ID
  • Closing Disclosure
  • Down Payment
  • Closing Costs

Of these, the closing disclosure is the most important. The loan estimate gave you the predicted cost, while disclosure confirms those costs. Above all, these should match without differing too much.

Regarding the closing costs, you have the option to:

Once everything is in order, checked, and signed, you can receive the keys for your property.

How Long Does It Take to Complete the Home Buying Process?

The process varies for everyone depending on the lender. Here’s an approximate time frame for your reference.

Pre-approval takes a day at the most, as long as you have the necessary documentation.

Closing can take as long as 30 days from the day you start underwriting. The lack of appraisers can delay the process. However, this may vary from county to county, especially if there is a shortage of appraisers.

Having the necessary documentation in hand may speed up the process.


Closing after Signed Contract

Buying a home may seem long and complex from the time of pre-approval to closing. However, armed with the required knowledge, you can overcome any foreseen circumstances. Besides, you are in a better position to make the process go smooth for all the parties involved.

Before closing, if you start having second thoughts, you can back off at any point in the process. The mortgage loan process comes with mile-long paperwork.

Even though staying on top of it all is difficult, take your time to understand every step of the way. Keep track of what you are paying and signing lest you fall into a hole unable to come out of.

proof of income

Proof of Income for Mortgages: Income and Asset Verification

Proof of Income for Home Mortgage LoanProof of Income

According to statistics by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), 88% of homebuyers finance their home purchase through a mortgage or a home loan. Qualifying for a mortgage can be a tedious process and requires a lot of documentation.

Due to the substantial money borrowed, most money lenders have strict requirements to guarantee that you have sufficient funds to ensure monthly mortgage payments. While this process seems taxing, it is worth all the pain since you do not end up with an unattainable payment at the end of each month.

This article will guide you through the following main topics:

Proof of Income for Home Loans

The proof of income isn’t as simple as handing over your recent pay stubs. It’s much more complicated than that. The mortgage lender needs to ascertain your ability to repay the loan. Therefore, they will require several documents to confirm that your income is as stated. For someone with traditional employment with a W-2 form, the process is straightforward. But, first, you’ll have to provide the following documents to prove that you have enough income:

  • Pay stubs of at least two years
  • Tax returns for two years
  • W-2 forms – most recent

Lenders do not require you to be in the same job for two years; however, they’d prefer that you remain in the field. If you recently changed jobs, they may also ask for proof of income from your employer.

The lender will obtain the federal tax returns directly from the IRS, for which you’ll have to provide a signed form 4056-T. It authorizes the IRS to release them to your lender. Keep in mind that your application may be rejected if you have made a significant job change recently within two years. For someone relying on bonuses and commissions for their income, lenders generally require at least two years of bonus and commission income. For calculation purposes, they take an average of both years. However, if the income in the current year is lower, the lenders tend to use the lower number.

Proof of Income for Self-Employed People

The process is more complicated for people in self-employment. Tax returns are the primary means of verification of income for the self-employed. Mortgage lenders expect at least two years of income from your business and also tax returns. In addition to that, you may also be asked to provide profit-loss statements or bank statements for the past two years to ensure that the stated income hasn’t changed. It’s important to note that, for self-employed, the lenders are looking for the adjusted gross income (AGI) on your Schedule C. AGI is the business income minus any expenses and deductions.

Do I Have to Own a Business to Be Self-Employed?

Self-Employed Red StampYou do not have to own a business to be self-employed. A mortgage lender considers the following people also to be self-employed:

  • You do not receive W-2 tax forms rather 1099 tax forms.
  • Contractor or freelancer
  • You own 25% or more of a business
  • 25% of your income is from self-employment
  • A good portion of your income is from dividends and interests.

Eligibility Income Criteria Required for a Mortgage

Most mortgage lenders have a different definition of what’s affordable than borrowers. That’s because they want to make sure that you can repay the loan. And as such, they do not prefer you spending more than 36% of your pre-tax income on debt payments. If you have excellent credit, the number can go higher than 41%.

To calculate the minimum income needed to qualify for a loan, the lender adds the monthly mortgage payment, minimum monthly payment for credit cards, any other loans (i.e. car loan), child alimony, child support, etc. They then compare it with your monthly income. The resulting total debt payments should be less than 36% of your pre-tax income.

How Much Income Do You Need to Buy a Home?

Proof of income is one of the most important factors when it comes to a mortgage loan. However, there’s no minimum income you’ll need to buy a home. Instead of minimum income, lenders look at the Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio. It shows the percentage of the gross monthly income that goes towards debt obligations. The DTI may vary depending on the different loans, conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA.

Generally speaking, your monthly payments should not be more than 30% of your gross income.

An adequate DTI for a home purchase depends on other factors, including the credit score. Most lenders require a DTI of at least 45%, while others allow as high as 50%, provided you have good credit and supplementary cash reserves.

What Are the Requirements of a Home Loan?

In addition to proving their income and employment history, borrowers also need to meet the standard loan requirements. Along with your finances, the type of property and the intended use also play an essential part in the home loans you qualify for. While the guidelines may vary depending on the different types of loan options, you can expect most lenders to follow the following criteria.

Credit Score

The credit score is a numerical rating that tells the lenders how responsible you are with your money. A conventional mortgage has a different credit requirement than other government-backed loans. Generally, the lenders expect a credit score of 620 or higher for better mortgage rates.

A high score can get you a low interest rate, while a low score can result in higher rates.

In the latter case, it’s also possible you’ll have trouble qualifying for a loan. Here are the minimum credit score requirements for various government-backed loans.

  • Conventional Loans – 620
  • FHA Loans – 580
  • VA Loans – 580
  • USDA Loans – 640

If you have a low credit score, you probably miss payments and regularly overdraft on your accounts. If your credit score isn’t where it is supposed to be, here are a few things you can do to increase it over time.

  • Pay off debt – Determine any outstanding debt payments, pay them until it paid in full. With the reducing debts, the lender may even approve your mortgage.
  • Make all payments on time – Making your monthly payments on time can help increase your score since 35% of the credit score comes from your credit history.
  • Avoid closing credit lines – Neither close an existing credit line nor open new credit when buying a home.

Credit History

For an accurate report, lenders may pull the credit report (with your permission, of course). According to Bruce Ailion, a real estate agent in Atlanta, you may need to explain any shortcomings on your credit report, including a short sale or a foreclosure. In addition, you may have to write a statement explaining the lapses in your report. It helps the lender to evaluate the risk. They may even let it go if it’s a one-time unavoidable circumstance.


Your lender may also ask to see your assets while assessing the risk factors. Generally, they look for assets and bank accounts that can pay your mortgage payments when you run into any financial trouble. Assets are things you own that hold a significant value.

  • Checking and savings account
  • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Certificates of deposit (CDs)
  • IRAs, 401(k)s or other retirement accounts

Lenders typically request the documents for verification to confirm the sources.

What Should Be an Optimum Size of Down Payment?

A down payment is the amount of mortgage the borrower lays down at the time of closing. Generally, it is 20% of the loan amount. Any amount less than that, you’ll have to buy private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, it is not the minimum you need to qualify for a loan. How much money you put down depends on you. Nevertheless, lenders have a minimum limit for the down payment, which you’ll have to meet.

  • Conventional Loan – 3%
  • FHA Loan – 3.5%
  • VA/USDA Loan – 0%

Proof of Income Requirements for Mortgage Loans

Your income is not as much as a point of consideration when obtaining a loan. The most crucial part is your ability to make monthly mortgage payments. Other factors they’ll consider are the credit score, DTI ratio, and down payment. Each lender determines its qualifying criteria. Here’s a look into what lenders expect from borrowers:

Monthly Income

If you are on a payroll, the mortgage process is pretty straightforward. You’ll have to submit your recent pay stubs and W-2’s. If self-employed, you’ll have to submit your tax returns and other documents that the mortgage lender requests. The longer you stay in a position, the more the lender will be ready to loan you. In case you moved roles, you may want to wait a year or two before applying for a mortgage. Some of the other sources of income include:

  • Overtime
  • Commissions
  • Alimony payments
  • Military benefits and allowances
  • Social security income
  • Child support payments
  • Investment income

Debt-to-Income (DTI) Ratio

Mortgage lenders use the Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio to decide how much you qualify for.

DTI = Monthly Debt Payments ÷ Monthly Household Income

With the DTI ratio, the lenders determine if you can comfortably afford another debt. A low DTI is ideal, with lenders preferring 50% or lesser. Any more than that, chances are that your mortgage application will be rejected. If you have a high DTI, look for ways to cut back on your monthly budget or increase your income.

Asset Statements

Asset statements are proof of your net worth, including investments, bank statements, and assets, providing a detailed look at your finances. The comprehensive portfolio of assets ensures that you can comfortably afford the mortgage. Furthermore, it also helps the lender determine that the approved mortgage is the right one for your financial needs. When you apply for a mortgage, your lender requires records verifying the assets and the source of your wealth. In order to confirm the assets, you’ll submit asset statements detailing your portfolio to the lender. Here are some of the types of assets that need to be submitted in the verification:

Liquid Assets

Proof of Income - Liquid Assets - CashAssets that have a cash value or can be converted to cash are called liquid assets. Lenders would want to verify that you have the means to pay the payments, insurance, taxes, and interest on your mortgage. The capability to pay for these is determined by the liquid assets, including bank account, savings account, checking account, stock option, etc. Experts suggest having six months of current income in liquid assets or cash to tide you over in times of financial emergency. This ensures that you can continue paying the mortgage payments even if you have no source of income.

Non-Liquid Assets

In addition to the liquid assets, lenders also expect proof of non-liquid assets in the asset statement. Non-liquid assets refer to difficult assets that take longer to convert to cash, including cars, jewelry, self-owned businesses, real estate, artwork, antique furniture, real estate property, etc. They may also change in value from the time it was initially purchased. While non-liquid assets may be difficult to convert in times of emergency, they are still valuable to lenders.

Gift Funds

If you receive money from friends and family to be put toward down payment or closing costs, it is also an asset in the eyes of the lender. Hence you need to verify the source during verification. To use the money safely without it affecting the mortgage approval process, ensure that you have the bank statement showing the deposit and also the bank statement from the giftee as a legitimate source of funds.

Process of Getting Mortgage Approval

The mortgage approval process is one of the most daunting yet vital steps before a home purchase. The process is long and can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.


Most borrowers prefer to get preapproved before starting the house hunt. Preapproval gives an idea of how much money you can expect from your lender and enables them to place a competitive bid. Even real estate agents and sellers prefer preapproved buyers.


Once you have found your dream home, placed a bid, and your offer has been accepted, you can apply for a mortgage. At this juncture, the mortgage lender will check your credit report, income, assets, bank statement, debts, and other financial aspects.

Income Verification

The lender then does the income verification, where he confirms your income and ability to make monthly payments. Having all your documents ready and organized increases your chances of getting approved. The documents vary depending on your employment situation and may include pay stubs, W-2 forms, tax returns, profit/loss statements, and bank statements.

Do not make any cash deposits in your account before and during the mortgage process. You should deposit any cash intended for a down payment way before demonstrating your ability to save money. This is also counted as a part of your assets and should be verifiable.


Another factor that determines the loan amount is the appraisal. The lender conducts an independent appraisal of the property before approving the mortgage. The loan amount usually depends on this appraisal.

Home Title InsuranceTitle Search and Insurance

Before the mortgage is approved, the lender does a property title search and title insurance through a title company. This is to ensure that no other company or individual has rights or legal claims on the house.


With all the information in hand, the lender will approve or deny your loan. If they are unable to verify the financial information at hand, they may also suspend your application.

No-Income Verification Mortgage

No-income verification mortgages, otherwise called stated-income mortgages, use non-standard means of income documentation. They do not require borrowers to prove a source of income. The mortgage is ideal for self-employed people and seasonal employees. You can use available assets, home equity, and cash flow. There are four types of no-income verification mortgage:

  • SISA – Stated Income, Stated Assets
  • SIVA – Stated Income, Verified Assets
  • NIVA – No-Income Verification, Verified Assets
  • NINA – No-Income Verification, No-Asset Verification

Each of the loans mentioned above has different requirements. However, keep in mind that these should not be used to hide an insufficient financial standing. Apply for a no-income mortgage only if you can make the payments.


Verifying your income is the most critical part of the mortgage approval process. Having a verified proof of income ensures that you have the finances and assets needed in order to qualify for your home mortgage application. When you apply for a mortgage, lenders want to make sure that you have the capacity to make on-time payments every month without fail. Therefore, they have strict requirements for a borrower, including employment history and proof of income. The best advice experts have for you is to seek a professional like a mortgage broker who can guide you through the process. In addition, they can help you find a trustworthy real estate agent and a mortgage lender.

Altitude Home Loans LogoThe people at Altitude Home Loans bring many decades of experience in doing loans the right way. If you are interested in purchasing a home, contact one of our Loan Officers today and we’ll guide you through the Home Loan application process. You’ll be glad you did.

Ask your loan officer

How Hard Is it to Qualify for a Mortgage?

For many first time home buyers, the entire process involved with purchasing their first property is intimidating. Several factors determine your monthly mortgage payment and how much house you’re able to afford. 

It may seem obvious, but before you can own a home, you have to apply for a mortgage.

Unless you have the cash to buy your home outright, which most people don’t, a mortgage is a must. So understanding the difficulties involved with mortgage approval is vital. Applying for a mortgage is like applying for credit. But it’s a little more complicated. Mortgage lenders look at several factors when deciding whether to approve or deny your application. Having all of your records and financial information goes a long way. While all of this sounds intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Reputable mortgage lenders like Altitude Home Loans are willing to work with applicants to ensure high approval odds. 


To learn more about the difficulty of getting mortgage approval, continue reading. 

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Does my mortgage have a payment penalty

Does My Mortgage Have a Prepayment Penalty?

Does my mortgage have a payment penalty

Owning a home is the epitome of the American dream; however, dealing with monthly mortgage payment can be a hassle for everyone. If you’re interested in paying off your mortgage early and are tired of dealing with fixed monthly payments, you should consider paying more on your loan principal monthly to pay it off sooner.

Things to consider in regards to your mortgage

Before you pay off your mortgage, you should consider whether your mortgage contract has any prepayment penalties. Prepayment penalties are stipulations in mortgage contracts that restrict you from paying more than your principal loan amount within a calendar year.

Not all mortgages have prepayment penalties attached to them; however, it’s essential to verify your mortgage’s exact terms before making extra monthly payments to ensure you won’t face any harsh penalties. If you’re interested in paying off your mortgage early but want to make sure you won’t face stiff penalties, continue reading to find out more.

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