9 Steps to Mortgage Approval

written by: Nathan Gillin

A good credit score (see Tips for Improving Your Credit Score!) is essential for mortgage approval, but what exactly does the process look like? 

Step 1: Get Pre-Approved

  • Make sure that you can afford down payment for a potential home
    • Financial readiness is key for mortgage approval
  • Pre-Qualification – Talk to a lender about previous homeownership as well as…
    • Income
    • Assets
    • Debt
  • Pre-Approval – In-depth review of credit score and financial responsibility by a lender
    • Lender will then tell you the loan amount in which you qualify for
    • Among the documents you should bring to your Pre-Approval are as follows:
      • Driver’s License/ID
      • Tax Returns
      • Pay Stubs
      • Bank Statements
  • Getting this loan amount is extremely helpful for Step 2

Step 2: Shopping for Homes

  • Search for homes that are within your price range
    • Consider your loan amount and your money for down payment
  • Check online portals such as Zillow
  • Look for homes for sale in the area from yard signs and local paper listings

Step 3: Make an Offer for Purchase

  • Pre-approval will give you leverage should you choose to negotiate the deal (which you should)
  • Satisfy contingencies, including the following:
    • Appraisals (unbiased value of what the home is worth) must be close to loan amount (rather than lower)
    • Home inspection reveals no major issues
    • Borrower (you) obtain funding
  • Sign the purchase agreement between buyer and seller

Step 4: Apply for a Mortgage

  • Secure the documents necessary for loan underwriting. They may already have been obtained through Pre-Approval:
    • ID and Social Security Number
    • Employment History. Income, Assets
    • Debts, Financial Blemishes
    • Property Information (e.g. property taxes, sales price)
    • Intended type of Mortgage and Borrowing Amount
  • Lender will then provide you with a loan estimate that encompasses…
    • Closing costs
    • Interest rate
    • Monthly payment
  • Note: at this stage you are not yet approved nor denied a mortgage

Step 5: Mortgage Processing

  • Using the documents you’ve provided, as well as others that the lender may request later, your loan will be evaluated
  • It is important that you promptly respond to additional request made by the lender. It ensures a quicker route to approval and closing

Step 7: The Underwriting 

  • Underwriter determines, based on financial responsibility and capacity to repay the loan, whether or not to accept your loan.
  • “Decision-making” stage involving the 3 C’s: Credit, Collateral, and Capacity
  • If approved, proceed to Step 8

Step 8: Loan Approval

  • Carefully identify and satisfy all borrower conditions set by the lender
  • Lock in interest rate and loan terms

Step 9: Closing of the Mortgage

  • Meet with Title agent at office or place of buyers choosing, bring cashiers check for costs associated with closing which was disclosed at an earlier date. 
  • Be sure to ask any questions your lender any questions you may have
  • You and your lender will have printed closing disclosure confirming all costs, monthly and down payments
  • Congratulations! Your mortgage has been approved!