When you’re looking for a mortgage lender in Charlotte, you’re bound to have some questions. We’ve gathered some of the most useful questions you should ask your prospective lender.
The answers will help you find the right mortgage lender, and the right home loan, for your situation.
What are my home loan options?
At the beginning of the mortgage process, you and your lender will need to narrow down your choices as you look for the right fit. Consider asking:
- Which type of mortgage will be best for my situation?
- What is the loan term? (10 years, 15 years, 30 years)
- Will the interest rate be fixed or variable?
- Will I use one loan or a combination of loans?
- How does my financial situation affect my choices?
- What factors (if any) are likely to limit my options?
- Is there anything you or I can do to expand my options?
An experienced lender will be able to help you choose the right kind of mortgage (fixed-rate, variable-rate, jumbo loan, etc.). They should also be able to inform you about the benefits or drawbacks of each type and suggest alternatives if necessary.
What special loan programs do I qualify for?
If you’re a veteran, a first-time homebuyer, or a home buyer in a rural area in North Carolina, you may qualify for special loan programs, such as FHA loans, USDA loans, or VA loans. These programs can help people afford a new home with a very low down payment, but they do have specific requirements.
There are also state-specific home buying programs just for North Carolina homebuyers, Mecklenburg County homebuyers, or Charlotte homebuyers.
How much do I need for the down payment?
Will you put down 20% as a down payment? Or a different amount? Ask your lender how much you need to put down, both the dollar figure and the percentage.
- Do I need to put down 20%, or can it be less?
- Will I need to pay mortgage insurance?
Keep in mind that many loan programs, such as FHA, Freddie Mac, or Fanny Mae loans, let you put down as little as 3%—but you’ll need to qualify for them.
Is there any down payment assistance I can qualify for?
Speaking of down payments, be sure to ask your lender what programs you may qualify for. You could be eligible for down payment assistance in the form of grants or forgivable loans if you have an income or other criteria that qualify. Some of these programs vary from state to state, so it’s important that your mortgage lender is well-versed in specific programs for Charlotte home loans and North Carolina in general, such as House Charlotte, Good Neighbor Next Door, or the NC 1st Home Advantage program.
- Do I qualify for down payment assistance?
- Do I need to be a first-time home buyer?
- What are the rules for this program?
- Would I ever need to pay these funds back?
What can I expect my home loan to cost?
There are two main parts to borrowing money for a home: the amount you borrow, which is called the principal, and the cost of borrowing, which is the interest rate. Your mortgage lender should be able to tell you how much you can borrow, how much your loan will cost you overall, and what the different costs will be.
- How much can I borrow?
- What interest rates do I qualify for?
- What would my monthly payment be?
- What would the payoff date be?
- How much of each payment would go to interest?
- How much would go to principal?
An amortization schedule, such as for a fixed-rate loan, shows you these figures in detail, which is great for planning your finances around your home loan as well as your other financial goals. You can take a look at our Mortgage Calculator to get an idea of how different borrowing amounts, interest rates, and down payment options can affect your payments and overall costs.
What will my interest rate be?
Interest rates will have an effect on the overall borrowing costs for your home, but they’re changing all the time. Ask your lender how much you can expect your interest rate to be, but don’t forget to ask about other considerations, too.
- What is the APR (annual percentage rate)?
- Will this rate change in the future, or is it fixed?
- If it’s adjustable, when and how often does the interest rate reset?
- Also, is there a floor or a cap on the interest rate?
- Will you lock the rate?
- Is there a fee for locking my rate?
- How does the current interest rate environment affect my loan?
The goal with these questions is to not only gauge your borrowing costs but also to gather information that will be useful in planning for the future.
When will you do a hard pull on my credit?
Lenders do a hard credit check to see your credit score, so they can get a better idea of the interest rates you qualify for.
A “hard pull” on your credit report indicates to the credit bureaus that you are actively shopping for credit, and it could have an effect on your credit score. If you are interviewing several different lenders, it’s to your benefit to try to keep these hard inquiries within the same general time frame—especially if your credit isn’t excellent.
What other mortgage-related costs should I be aware of?
There are more than interest costs to think about when you take out a mortgage. Ask your mortgage lender what other costs you should expect to pay.
- Do you charge an origination fee, and if so, how much is it?
- Are there discount points?
- Are there prepayment penalties for this loan?
- What other fees do you charge?
- Will I need to pay private mortgage insurance/mortgage insurance premium?
- What will the closing costs be?
- What can I do to lower my costs?
The answers to these questions will give you a fuller picture of the overall cost of your loan.
What will the closing process look like?
Finally, you’ll need to know what to expect for the closing.
- What will I need to bring to the settlement?
- How long will it take to close the mortgage?
- Who will be underwriting the loan?
- What, if anything, should I avoid doing until the loan is settled?
For instance, your mortgage lender will probably advise you not to make any big purchases, such as a car, until your home loan is settled. They’ll also be able to spell out what you should expect in terms of who, what, where, and when for the closing.
How will you keep me updated about the loan process?
This question gets at your mortgage lender’s style and the way they conduct business. Will they be a good partner in your homeownership journey?
- Will I be kept in the dark, or will you communicate with me every step of the way?
- What is your availability like?
- How can I get in touch with you if I have any questions or concerns?
- What is the best way to reach you?
Ideally, your mortgage lender will be courteous, responsive, and respectful of your time. Knowing you can get in touch with them will be helpful if something changes with your financial situation.
And good customer service isn’t always easy to find—if your mortgage lender is a pleasure to work with, it makes the entire process more enjoyable. These questions should help you find a mortgage lender that values you as a customer and works with you to find the best solution for your needs.
At Fairway Mortgage of the Carolinas, we’re dedicated to helping you find the perfect mortgage. We’ll help you close your loan quickly and easily. Whether you’re ready to buy or refinance or just checking out your options, get in touch with the friendly, responsive mortgage professionals at Fairway.
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