10 Steps to Getting a Mortgage: The Mortgage Process Explained

Blog The Brightland Difference 10 Steps to Getting a Mortgage: The Mortgage Process Explained

Owning a home is a huge achievement that can offer you security and financial benefits.

Whether you're buying for the first time or looking to move into a different home, understanding how to get a mortgage is crucial before you start the process.

To help you prepare, here are 10 steps about getting a mortgage for a seamless experience.

1. Check Your Credit Score and Report

Before you can get a mortgage (or any type of loan), lenders want to know that you're a trustworthy borrower. Before you start the application process, it's crucial to know where you stand credit-wise.

Find out what your current FICO score is since this is the metric that lenders will use to get a better idea of your borrowing habits. You should also pull a copy of your credit report and look for any errors or areas where you could improve to get a higher score. 

You obtain a free copy of your credit report online, so review it carefully. If you notice any problems, it's important to contact the three main reporting bureaus and have them make corrections right away. The sooner you can correct problems and improve your score, the better the odds are you'll be approved when you apply.

2. Learn About Mortgage Requirements

While there are several mortgage programs out there for borrowers, most lenders still have a basic list of requirements. You'll need to have all of the proper documentation available when applying for a mortgage.

Make sure you gather all of your most recent tax returns, W2 forms from your employer, and your most recent paystubs. You should also pull up a recent bank statement that you can show the lender to verify your current balance.

If you're a renter, ask your landlord for a reference stating that you always pay on time. If someone is gifting you money for a down payment, a signed gift letter will be required, too.

3. Pay All Bills on Time

From student loans to car payments, you'll need to be diligent about paying your bills on time throughout the mortgage process. A single late payment could derail your credit score, and it could make some lenders weary to approve you.

Set up a budget and consider signing up for automatic payments if you haven't done so already. Don't skip or miss payments and always make sure they clear before the due date.

If you're worried about missing a payment, set up email or text notifications to remind you. Now is the time to pay close attention to your financial obligations so you stay on track.

4. Start Saving 

Down payment requirements vary for mortgages depending on the specific program you apply for. However, almost every mortgage out there requires some form of down payment.

Start putting money aside in a separate, high-yield savings account so you'll have money for your down payment. The bank will need to see proof that you have these funds, so the sooner you can save, the better. The more money you have for a down payment, the lower the risk you are to lenders.

5. Research Lenders

One of the most important steps to getting a mortgage is to find a lender you can trust. Start looking at different banks and national mortgage lenders and read customer reviews.

Mortgage lenders can be your local bank or credit union, or an online lender like Quicken Loans. The key is to find one that has exceptional customer service and good communication. A mortgage broker can help you sift through the sea of lenders to find a good match.

6. Check Rates

Home loan rates fluctuate, but it's crucial to keep an eye on them to ensure you get a good deal. Your interest rate can have an impact on your approval odds as well as the total of your monthly payment.

Read recent articles and look online to keep track of where home interest rates are headed. As soon as rates are at an acceptable level, you can ask your lender to lock the rate for you. Most banks will lock rates free of charge for 30 days, but they may charge a fee if you want to lock the rate longer.

7. Get Pre-Approved

Most home sellers want to know that interested buyers will be approved when they put in an offer. Ask your lender to get you pre-approved, which should only take a few minutes of your time.

A pre-approval letter is not the same as being pre-qualified. However, If you want to get pre-qualified, you'll need to commit to a lender and fill out an application.

8. Apply for a Mortgage

Your credit looks good, you have money for a down payment, and you have all of your documentation in order. Now it's time to choose a lender and start the application process.

A mortgage application is lengthy but shouldn't take very long to complete. The lender will contact you if you're missing anything or if they have additional questions.

9. Head to Underwriting

After you apply for a mortgage, your loan officer will send your information to an underwriter. This is when you'll need to be patient and wait to find out if you get the "clear to close."

The underwriting process can take a week, or it could take a month or longer depending on current demand. Remember, don't use any more credit or apply for new credit during this time, or it could derail you and you may end up being denied.

10. Prepare for Closing

Once you're approved for your mortgage, you'll get a "clear to close" and firm closing date. On the day of closing, you'll sign the official mortgage paperwork.

After you close, you'll get the keys to your new home. This final step is when you can celebrate and get ready to enjoy your new house for years to come.

These 10 steps to getting a mortgage can help you prepare so that your odds of getting approved are high. From your credit score and researching interest rates to finding a lender, make sure you're financially ready for this huge purchase.


If you're ready to start the homebuying process, we can help. At Brightland Homes, we believe happiness starts at home, and we’re here to help you find the perfect house for you and your family. Fill out the form below today, and we'll get started.

Let's Help You Find the Perfect Home!

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