Getting a mortgage means convincing your lender that you'll make your mortgage payment on-time, every month. This means a whole lot of documentation including tax forms, credit scores, references, and bank statements. Be prepared to prove to your lender that you know how much money you make, how much money you have and that you know how to manage both.
Credit Report and Score
Your mortgage lender will pull your credit report and score as part of the application process. To make sure that you don't get any surprises, both you and your partner should check your credit reports -- from all three credit bureaus -- as well as your FICO score before you even walk into a lender's office. This way, you can dispute any untrue negative information and be prepared to explain any accurate negative items on the reports.
Lenders take all your assets and debts into consideration when offering you a mortgage. Your lender wants to see statements from your bank, investment and retirement accounts. Your lender may also ask you to bring in your credit card statements along with documentation about other types of debt such as a bank or student loans. If your mortgage requires a down payment, and most do, you'll have to show the lender where you got the money for the down payment. For example, if your parents gave you the money for a down payment, they'll need to write you a gift letter explaining that they provided the down payment and that you don't have to pay the money back.
If you both work, you'll both need pay stubs, W-2s and tax returns that can prove your income claims. If you are self-employed, the necessary documentation will be much more comprehensive: You'll probably have to get a profit and loss statement from a CPA that backs up your tax records.
Many lenders want to know that you pay your housing expenses on time. Expect them to either ask for your current lease and a year's worth of canceled rent checks, or your landlord's name and phone number so they can ask him directly about your rental history.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.