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Psst... Tell Your Kids That Buying A Home Is Easier Than They Think! Series Part III

Nov 22, 2007
For a first time homebuyer, once you've found a house and been pre-qualified for a home, the steps to closing can be somewhat confusing. It's actually a simple process that when understood, actually makes sense.

You have found the perfect house. You can't believe that you are actually buying it! You thought buying a house was only for old people with kids, you know, like in their thirties or something. Now what happens?

You've should already have been pre-qualified for a home loan by a mortgage specialist. In fact, that lender gave you a letter, saying as much, and you gave it to the seller, giving them peace of mind that your offer is real and you can back it up. Your credit has probably already been pulled and you've been given a copy of it. Your realtor will provide the fully executed sales contract to your lender. Upon receipt of this contract, your lender will update and get you all your documents and disclosures to sign, within three days of receipt of your contract. If your credit has already been pulled and you've seen these documents, expect a NEW set since you finally have a property in mind. And trust me, this is only the beginning of the deluge of documents you will see, sign and sign again.

Your lender will now go back to your loan and put in all the particulars of this property - such as taxes, homeowner's association fees - and reflect any earnest money you may have put down with the contract. At this point, with a property determined, you can explore locking in an interest rate or reserving funds if the loan is through a particular housing agency. Your lender will also want to collect and update documentation that proves all you have related about yourself. I call it "eye balling" the documents. Assessments will be made if there is further documentation required to substantiate your loan application.

When all contract contingencies are removed, the lender will order the appraisal for your property. The lender chooses the appraiser and the type of appraisal necessary to ensure the value of the property. After all, it's the lender's money on the line, and in case you don't repay your loan, the value of the loan may have to recouped in a foreclosure sale of the property. Not likely to happen, but the lender will make sure they are protected by the appraisal. The appraiser will notify all parties involved that there may be repairs required before the value can be found or the property will adhere to a certain standard required by the lender. The lender will communicate this information to your realtor to negotiate the repairs with the seller.

The lender prices, processes and assembles your loan for underwriting. They order title work from your chosen title company and coordinate all the pieces of the puzzle for the closing. They collect your homeowner's insurance and share this information with the title company. The title company searches the title and rectifies any outstanding liens for closing. Sometimes, the title company finds old tax liens or worker's liens (known as materialmen's liens). They make sure that these liens will be satisfied prior to you taking ownership to the property. They also make sure that everything historically has been recorded and released properly.

Once the appraisal is received and the documents are submitted to underwriting for final approval, the lender receives an underwriting decision. Sometimes, there may be something in your file that will cause an underwriter to ask for more documentation. Sometimes, an underwriter will ask for additional comparable sales of homes in the area for the appraisal. Many times, a customer never knows that these conditions arise because their lender anticipates or addresses them for them. Sometimes a customer may be contacted for information. But, your mortgage specialist should have a good assessment of the situation and be able to validate and explain anything they ask of you.

Two days before closing, you will receive a HUD-1 Settlement Statement from your lender and/or title company. This document is summation of all the charges and fees in connection with your loan. You will be asked to review this document to ensure that it is correct. It will also reflect how much cash you will need to bring to closing.

At the closing, all parties involved usually show up at the same time to sign documents. Sometimes, the seller and the buyer sign separately due to scheduling conflicts. Your realtor and your lender should be expected to attend your closing. You will sign a stack of huge documents, but when all is said and done, you will handed the keys to your new home!

Your lender, Realtor and title company should all work to make this process as seamless for you as possible. Their job is to make this experience an informed, easy and worry free process. You will have to make certain decisions, but you should be informed so that they do not overwhelm you. It's easy to forget how mind boggling all the documentation can be in the home loan process when are exposed to it every day as part of your job. Your lender should be patient and explain things simply -no smoke and mirrors. Buying a home doesn't need to be difficult or stressful. A good lender will make it exciting and educational!
About the Author
Email your home loan financing questions to Kristin Abouelata, Home Loan Specialist, at question@kristinmortgage.com or call (865) 567-0113. Kristin will try to answer all questions on her website Home Loans Plain Talk.
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