It's okay to test the waters before making a long-term commitment. Seeing as a mortgage can last up to 30 years, you'd better be confident you've made the right choice. However, you want to make your decision before submitting an application. There are costs for both you and the mortgage company that make it inadvisable to submit multiple applications. Think of the application as getting engaged with the intent of marrying the loan at closing.
Many lenders charge upfront fees for an application. These fees are often non-refundable. Say you apply for a loan with Lender A and pay a $200 application fee and also apply with Lender B, paying a $300 application fee. You get a better loan from Lender A, but you’re still out $300 from Lender B. Additionally, you may have to pay for multiple appraisals and other upfront costs. These fees can add up, costing you a lot of money.
Every time you apply for a mortgage, the lender runs your credit. This appears on your credit report as an inquiry. Too many inquiries have negative effects. First, multiple inquiries can lower your credit score; although FICO, the leading credit scoring company, groups multiple mortgage-related inquiries together, it only does so for inquiries within the same two-week period. Second, a mortgage underwriter may wonder why there are so many inquiries on your report. But don't stress if you have one or two additional inquiries, as you can leverage this to your advantage by showing the lender that you have other options.
When dealing with a bank, the type of relationship you build can be important to getting the most favorable rates and terms. If you apply for a mortgage and you don't quite qualify, a strong relationship with the lender can push the loan through. However, if you cause a lender to incur the cost of processing your mortgage application only to go with someone else, the lender will remember that if you need a loan in the future.
Alternative to Multiple Applications
Instead of applying for simultaneous mortgages with more than one company, do your homework before starting the process. Call different mortgage companies and meet with loan officers. Bring information that lenders will need to give you an idea of what they can offer you, including two years of tax returns, two months of pay stubs, bank balance histories and your credit scores. Explain your situation and find out about rates, fees and processing times. Base your decision to apply on this information. If for some reason you're not approved, you still have information on other lenders to try again.
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