Finding the best mortgage loan is about more than just securing the lowest interest rate. It’s also important to make sure you’re comfortable with the company that’s originating the loan. The banks or credit unions where you have accounts are good places to start on your mortgage loan search, as they might offer special rates and fees for customers. Finally, talk to friends and real estate professionals for references—they might be able to suggest a lender or broker that they’ve worked with and can recommend.

Before you start applying and seek mortgage pre-approval, make sure you’re financially ready to take on a loan and get the best rate possible. You’ll want to prepare for your mortgage application by:

  • Paying off credit card balances, making sure you make payments on time and not taking out loans. If you have small loans, see about paying them off first.
  • Saving for your down payment. Although a down payment of 20% or more is ideal, you can get loans for as little as 5% down as long as you can effectively cover the monthly payments.
  • Ensuring your income is stable. Lenders want to make sure you have enough income to afford the monthly payments now and in the future.

How to Compare Mortgage Loan Offers?

Before you settle on a winner, it’s important to compare interest rates and fees offered by different lenders. Here are a few ways to compare the offers:

  • Interest rate. This is the most obvious way to choose between lenders, but it shouldn’t be your only determining factor.
  • Fees. There are a variety of fees associated with a mortgage loan. Not all of them are clearly understandable. Ask about all of them—including application fees, underwriting costs and others that are charged at closing.
  • Down payment and mortgage insurance. You’ll want to put down as much money as possible on a mortgage loan, but also make sure you have enough for lawyers, and home expenses such as insurance, repairs and furnishings. For that reason, work with the lender who can provide the lowest down payments coupled with a great interest rate. If you put down less than 20%, you’ll likely need to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Once you decide which offer is best for you, complete the application. As long as you have your paperwork in order and there aren’t any financial issues that arise before closing day, you’ve likely been through the toughest part of the mortgage process. You can look forward to signing your loan documents at closing and moving into your new home.

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