You want to get your first home loan, but the list of documents and personal information you’ll need seems daunting.
Good news: when it comes to home mortgage loan applications, there’s definitely a difference between providing “everything you might eventually need” and “what you need to get the ball rolling.”
The great thing is that if you start the pre-approval process with your must-have documents, your loan officer can let you know whether you will even need everything else that you anticipated. In the meantime, you’ve also got the mortgage company working for you while you gather whatever additional documentation you may need.
Here is our list of the 4 must-have documents for quick and easy mortgage pre-approval, as well as an explanation of why you need them and where to find them.
- Pay stubs
- Tax documents
- Bank statements
- Mortgage application
You have to show how much money you make in order to prove what kind of bandwidth you have for a monthly mortgage payment. A good credit history also helps, but it’s not enough without a current income.
Pay stubs do not come in the same format for every company, but they should be provided on a formal printout or digital document with designations of the payor, payee, pay period, and amount.
Where to find pay stubs: Your employer likely keeps a record of your pay stubs if you don’t already keep them for yourself.
Your Most Recent Tax Forms (W-2, I-9, Return)
In order to verify a lot of things about your income, mortgage companies need your tax documents, usually for the last two years. This is especially true if you have income from some non-employer source such as an investment. Self-employed or contracted workers who don’t receive regular pay stubs will also want to use tax forms as an alternate sort of income record.
Even if you are not self-employed and you don’t have any investment income, you’ll still want the tax documents as a form of universal proof of income.
This is the most standardized and predictable group of documents, though, as anyone with a basic income will be entitled to a W-2 or I-9 from any employer and the original copy of their tax return documents from the IRS.
If you’ve lost any of the documents, then you can request another copy from the IRS for a small fee.
Where you can find W-2 and I-9: Your employer provides these documents to you, the employee, at the end of each year. The employer also sends them to the Social Security Administration, who provides proof to the IRS. You can find them in your completed tax return. If all else fails, request another copy of the return. https://www.irs.gov/uac/About-Form-4506
Where to find tax transcripts: Aside from the copy of your tax return that you get early in the year from the IRS, you can visit the IRS website to obtain a copy of your tax transcripts. https://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript
A Current Bank Statement
Bank statements are especially relevant for proving that you have available funds for a down payment. This statement should, above all, show the current balance available and reiterate that you are in fact the owner of that account.
After all, when down payments are concerned, a mortgage company needs to know that you can carry out your portion of the closing even if you can easily afford to pay the monthly mortgage expenses. In fact, if you are paying for closing, the closing fees will also be expected in the account in addition to down payments.
Some mortgage companies ask for more than one month’s statement in order to prove that the money has remained on the balance. This is not always the case, but be prepared to provide a second or third balance statement.
In the event that you will receive the down payment money from someone else who is not on the application, you’ll have to prove that instead. You’ll need a gift letter proving that they are giving you the funds as well as their own bank statement proving that the funds are available.
For those who are curious, a declaration of cash on hand (not in the bank) is usually not acceptable. Documented proof is its own sort of currency for pre-approval.
Where to find current bank statements: While most banks offer monthly mail and electronic statements, you can obtain both a current balance and statement history at your bank’s website or at a physical banking location.
The Pre-Approval Application
The application itself is the most crucial part of the pre-approval process. Despite the fact that your name, address, and contact information may be on the other documents, mortgage companies require a consolidated application.
The most important part of the document is the data needed for the credit check: your legal name and social security number.
Where to find pre-approval applications: Almost all mortgage companies offer their pre-approval applications online through their website. An application can usually be filled out online. If you’d rather, most companies allow applicants to print the form, fill out the application in pen, and then send it to a physical address.
Some companies also implement systems where the application can be printed and filled out with pen before being scanned or photographed instead of mailed by hand.
If You’re Ready, Learn The Rest
With these must-have documents, you’ll be ready to start the ball rolling. If it seems easy, that’s because it is.
Have you already gotten these documents together? Apply now to get in touch with a mortgage expert to guide you through the rest of the process.