If you’re thinking about buying a home this year, resist the instinctual urge to contact a lender or Realtor, and take a few minutes to first review what’s in your wallet. This includes those hauling around a 20-pound purse, a.k.a. a “life office”.
Our wallets and purses hold the content to our unique personal and financial stories. Both stories are equally important in qualifying for a home mortgage. Wallets contain identification, credit cards, debit cards, cash, checks, and Starbucks cards. We carry around bills that if not paid on time get reported to the credit bureaus as collections faster than we phone in to dispute the items.
Consider what’s in your wallet and take it a step further by preparing for the mortgage pre-approval process.
Credit cards – Know your credit limits. Balances should never be higher than 50% of the credit limits; even if balances are paid in full monthly. If you max out your credit cards for max “rewards,” call to have your limit increased by 50% of your average monthly balance. Your scores will tank with high balances similar to if you were to make a late payment.
Debit cards –Reflect on bank account activity. You will need to source large, non-income deposits. Be prepared to explain and source with documentation.
Cash –Lenders cannot document cash transactions and do not allow cash deposits as sufficient assets for down payment or closing costs. Keep cash in the bank so that it can be verified.
Identification – You won’t be able to purchase a home without current, valid identification. If you don’t have a local ID, be prepared to explain why, or make a trip to the local DMV.
Checks – When depositing checks for items sold, loans that friends have finally re-paid, or generous birthday gifts, be prepared to source: Snap a photo of the check, provide a bill of sale, or ask your grandparent for a gift letter.
Bills – Pay them on time, or pay them now. Resolve all disputes quickly. If credit cards or collections are “in dispute” status, a lender cannot approve your mortgage until it’s resolved.
Know what’s in your wallet so that you know when you’re ready to purchase a home. You will also have a lighter purse, more control of your finances, and a faster mortgage pre-approval process.