Real Estate By the Numbers

Mortgage Q&A: First Time Home Buyer in MA

Thinking about buying a home? Are you a first time home buyer? Or an owner that hasnít been through the mortgage or buying process in a few years?

Its easy for me, or anyone in the mortgage and real estate business to tell you what to expect, but what does a recent home buyer really think? This week we decided to ask a recent first time home buyer in MA about their experience going through the process. Do you want answers to your real estate questions? Send them over to questions@propertiesinthehub.com.

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Q: How long before you started looking did you start the pre-approval / mortgage process?
A: My wife and I were ďlookingĒ off and on for about 4 months before we decided to get more serious with our search. Our real estate agent told us that in this market, we had to be pre-approved in order for a seller to really consider our offer. After filling out an application we connected with the lender and received the checklist of documents they needed to prepare a full pre-approval. At first it felt like it was a lot of information to provide since we were just looking and havenít identified a property yet, however, once we sat down to go through process we understood why the lender needed everything. After completing the paperwork and getting pre-approved it was a relief to have done and really dive into our home search.

Q: Did your realtor request you get pre-approved before you started looking at homes? What expectations were provided about the process?
A: Yes, our realtor advised us once he could tell we were getting more serious with our search. He explained the difference between being pre-approved and pre-qualified. He referred us to a mortgage advisor and warned us that we would go through a full approval process as if we were already under agreement. Ultimately, our realtor explained that once pre-approved we could confidently start making offers on homes knowing what was in our budget and there would be no surprises during the application process.

Q: What did it mean to you, knowing you were pre-approved?
A: There was no question that once we were officially pre-approved we became more motivated in finding our home. We started going to more open houses and really became excited about where we were going to live. Once we were pre-approved it was a relief knowing the hard part was over. All we had to do is find the right home!

Q: What was the mortgage approval process like?
A: Once we had a home under agreement we did have to provide additional information to our mortgage advisor. Most the requested documents were just updates, but it did seem like it was redundant. We need to provide updated paystubs and bank statements throughout the mortgage process. Our lender called us every week with updates so we always knew where we were in the process. This was a huge relief, especially since we were first time home buyers. We looked forward to our weekly calls.

Q: What would you have changed, to make the process easier or go smoother?
A: The hardest part of the mortgage process was the required paperwork. Even though we provided everything upfront, we needed to continue to provide updated paystubs, banks statements, copies of our deposit checks. It just seemed like we were constantly being asked to verify and re-verify everything. I do feel since we did provide all of these documents upfront during our pre-approval process it did make the mortgage process smoother though. We would not have been as confident if we needed to collect all of these documents after we had an accepted offer on our home . It was comforting knowing it was just the updated documents needed.

Q: What advice would you give other future home buyers in MA?
A: My advice would be to ensure you are prepared before you get serious with the search. There is a lot of documentation required in order to get approved for a mortgage. I would also recommend you work with an agent that completely understands the market but also what goes into the mortgage process. It was nice having our expectations set before we really started the search.

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