I was meaning to post this a while ago, but these are the notes I took when I was shopping for a mortgage and closing the purchase of our first house. It was quite a process. As a first-time borrower, I felt like I was at constant risk of these expert lenders taking advantage of my naiveté, especially given all the stories from mortgage crisis. So, I spent a lot of time reading and double-checking. I try here to lay out what I took away from the process, without biasing it toward any decisions my wife and I made pertaining to our own situation.
Original Disclaimer: These are the notes of one person (me) who has bought exactly one home with exactly one mortgage. I am not an expert. I have no qualifications. I’m just a dude. This might be useful as a starting point, but I highly suggest you do your own research and confirm your conclusions with advice from an expert you trust.
Updated Disclaimer: I now actually work for a mortgage company! I’m not a licensed loan officer, so I’m still not qualified to give advice. But I know far more about mortgages than I did in 2017. I’ve made some slight updates, but the knowledge I’ve gained at work largely has validated my reflections from a few years ago.
Also, note that this piece reflects my experience shopping for a conforming mortgage. It’s the most common type of mortgage, but there are others:
- FHA loans – these have expanded criteria, to broaden access to home ownership.
- VA loans – these are for American Veterans.
- Jumbo loans – these are for loan amounts that exceed the conforming loan limit for the county the property is in.
I don’t have personal experience with these other loan types.