So you’ve been approved for a mortgage. Congratulations! It may be tempting to take a break…after all, you’ve done a lot of work researching your best loan options and getting your paperwork together. But you shouldn’t slack off yet!
A Pre-Approval Letter doesn’t last forever. In fact, it usually only lasts between 60 and 90 days. That’s not 60 to 90 days to find a house; that’s 60 to 90 days to find a home, make a winning bid, and complete the closing process. Considering that closing on a home generally takes more than a month due to the underwriting process, it’s a tighter window than it seems.
But don’t panic! Even in a competitive market, you can close on time. Here are five steps to ensure that you beat your Pre-Approval deadline and get into a new home!
1. Understand Your Mortgage Requirements
The rules of the game are not the same for all mortgages. For example, most FHA loans can be closed within a 30-day window. If you are taking advantage of other services, however, such as a first-time homebuyer program, there may be more delay. Many down-payment assistance programs will require 45 days to complete.
Keep this in mind as you hit the housing market. Set a target day for finding a home and entering contract on a home. And remember: It’s always smart to leave yourself a little cushion.
2. Work with A Realtor
Realtors are great for answering your questions about neighborhoods, and for finding properties that meet all your needs. But it’s possible that they become even more useful after your enter contract.
Realtors have closed on more than a few homes in their day, and they’ve got a clear grasp on every step of the process. They’ll make sure you have the right documents and are taking all the necessary steps to complete the closing process.
3. Make A Confident Offer
You see it all the time on TV: Someone likes a home, but they think the price could be better…so they come in low with their bid. This opens up the floor to counter offers from the seller and, depending on how agreeable you both are, it could be a relatively short process. But it could also be a longer process. Worse, you could leave the door open for a more competitive bid to come in a sweep the home out from under you. That will certainly cramp your schedule, as now you need to find a new prospective home.
We’re certainly not saying NOT to bid low, but understand the market and the neighborhood so you can make a confident bid and win the property sooner rather than later.
4. Have an Active Attitude
Realtors are a huge help, but they can’t do everything for you…generally the best they can do is remind you to take necessary steps. That means you should try to be as available as possible when your Realtor or mortgage broker calls, and quick to act upon their instructions. For example, you’ll need to schedule an inspection soon after you enter contract. Your Realtor will remind you of this…so get it done! The less you dilly-dally, the more smoothly the process will go.
5. Stay on The Straight and Narrow
As you know, your Pre-Approval was based on a lot of documentation and data. It’s important that you maintain that information as strictly as possible. The most common case of things going awry occurs when homebuyers go out and buy an appliance or pool table for the new home. Taking on new debt will derail your closing process! Don’t do it! Similarly, don’t quit your job mid-closing process.
Hopefully these don’t apply to you, but just in case: Don’t get divorced or die during the closing process either. Follow all of these steps, and you’ll be into a new home with plenty of time to spare!