Common House Buying Myths You Should Kick to the Curb

New homeowners standing on patio

Buying a house involves meeting credit requirements, saving for mortgage-related expenses and submitting documentation to prove your ability to handle the mortgage payment.

But while you might know the general process, understanding each requirement can be challenging. And without proper research, you could fall for common mortgage myths.

Here’s a look at a few myths and the truth behind them.

Myth #1: I need a 20% down payment.

A common myth that prevents many potential homebuyers from purchasing is the belief that they need a 20% down payment. But although this used to be the traditional amount, it’s no longer required. Today, you can get approved for a mortgage with far less.

Keep in mind that without a 20% down payment, you’ll likely pay for mortgage insurance. However, depending on your loan, there are options that allow you to remove it later on.

Myth #2: I can’t buy a house if I have student debt.

This is not entirely true. When you apply for a mortgage, your lender will evaluate your entire financial picture to gauge your ability to afford a mortgage.

If your income is high enough to support your student loan payments, other debts and a mortgage payment, you shouldn’t have any issue qualifying — provided your credit score meets the minimum for the loan and you can afford the down payment and closing costs.

Understand that the higher your student loan debt payment, the less you might qualify for. However, having student debt in itself doesn’t prevent buying a house.

Myth #3: Mortgages require an excellent credit score.

Keep in mind that you don’t need excellent or perfect credit to qualify for a mortgage. Many mortgage programs, including conventional and government-backed loans, are flexible.

This isn’t to say that a higher score isn’t advantageous. The higher your score, the lower your mortgage rate, which results in a lower monthly payment and less interest paid over the life of the loan.

Myth #4: I should look for homes before reviewing loan options.

Ideally, you should review loan options before looking at homes. Some people make the mistake of shopping for a home first, which can result in falling in love with a house outside your price range.

By meeting with a lender first, you’ll know what loan programs you qualify for and how much you can afford to spend on a house.

Myth #5: I need to come up with a down payment on my own.

FHA and conventional home loans require a down payment, which can be a major obstacle to buying a home. However, you don’t have to come up with this money on your own.

These loans allow the use of gift funds, where a relative contributes a certain percentage to your down payment. Additionally, depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for down payment assistance. A zero-down loan could also help you purchase a home with less out-of-pocket expense.

Myth #6: My monthly payment will be what I saw online.

Using an online mortgage calculator can give you an estimate of your mortgage payment based on the purchase price, term, interest rate and other factors. However, these calculators cannot provide exact numbers.

Since mortgage payments often include the cost of mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance and property taxes, you’ll need to meet with a lender to know your actual monthly payment.

Myth #7: Multiple credit pulls will hurt my credit score.

While it’s true that multiple credit inquiries can significantly hurt your credit score, this generally doesn’t happen when buying a house.

Credit scoring models recognize rate shopping. Therefore, if you get multiple loan quotes from three or four mortgage lenders within a certain window (14 days to be safe), these multiple inquiries typically only count as a single inquiry.

Myth #8: A pre-approval is a guarantee.

Be mindful that a mortgage pre-approval does not guarantee buying a house.

A pre-approval is conditional. So even though the lender has reviewed your income, credit, debts and assets, and determined that you can afford a certain amount, the approval is primarily contingent on your financial situation remaining the same throughout the lending process.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you don’t take on any new debts or quit your job. This could jeopardize your pre-approval or delay closing.

If you’re ready to start the home buying process and learn about your mortgage options, contact the loan experts at FirstBank Mortgage.

We’re here to help. Anytime.

Have questions? Contact us for neighborly advice.

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