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What Documents Do You Need To Apply For A Mortgage?

January 6th, 2018 8:51 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President

In the years leading up to 2007, borrowers could get loans with almost no documentation, and this is often considered the primary catalyst of the global financial crisis that peaked in 2008.

To obtain a mortgage approval today, you can expect to provide a full set of documentation verifying your financial and personal life. If you know what to expect and your lender is organized, this is less painful than it sounds. Below is an overview.

Loan Application Information Required

The first thing you’ll do when applying for a mortgage is complete a federally required mortgage application. Regardless of whether the application is in the paper format linked here, an online form, or done verbally with your loan officer, this linked document contains the application with the information you’ll need to provide, including:

  • Full name, birth date, Social Security number, and phone number
  • Marital status, number of children and ages
  • Residence history for at least two years. If you’re a renter, your rent payment is needed. If you’re an owner, all mortgage, insurance and tax figures are needed for your primary residence and all other properties owned.
  • Employment history for at least two years, including company name(s), address(es), phone number(s), and your title(s).
  • Income history for at least two years. If you receive commissions, bonuses, or are self-employed, you must provide two years of bonus, commission, or self-employed income received. Most lenders average variable and self-employed income over two years.
  • Asset account balances including all checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts.
  • Debt payments and balances for credit cards, mortgages, student loans, car loans, alimony, child support, or any other fixed debt obligations.
  • Confirmation whether you’ve had bankruptcies or foreclosures within the past seven years, whether you’re party to any lawsuits, or you co-sign on any loans.
  • Confirmation if any part of your down payment will be borrowed.

Loan Documentation Required

Next comes the step of verifying all of the information provided in the application with documentation. A lender will provide a checklist based on your specific profile, but you can generally expect the following:

  • Written (or sometimes verbal) authorization for your lender to run your credit report.
  • Letters of explanation for credit inquiries, past addresses, and derogatory information on your credit report.
  • If you’ve had a bankruptcy in the past seven years, discharge papers are required.
  • If any tax liens or other derogatory items on your credit report require further explanation, you’ll be required to provide full documentation for each derogatory instance.
  • If you’re a renter with a private landlord, 12 months of canceled rent checks or 12 months of bank statements to show rent checks cleared on time. If you’re a renter with an institutional landlord, your lender can sometimes get them to complete a form confirming on-time rent payments in lieu of cancelled checks or bank statements.
  • If you’re keeping your existing home and renting it out, you’ll need to provide a lease agreement and proof that the first month’s rent has been deposited into your bank account.
  • If you intend to sell your existing home before closing on the new home, you’ll need to provide a listing agreement for the home, and it will need to close before your new home can close.
  • Pay stubs for at least 30 days.
  • W2 forms for all jobs worked in the past two years.
  • All pages of personal federal tax returns for the past two years.
  • If self-employed or greater than 20 percent owner in a company, all pages of business federal tax returns for past two years.
  • If self-employed or greater than 20 percent owner in a company, a year-to-date profit and loss statement for the business.
  • Income from rental properties can typically only count if it’s on your tax returns. If rental income isn’t on your tax returns yet because the rental property is new, lenders may accept the income if your rental property down payment was 30 percent or greater. Ask your lender.
  • If you’re divorced and receiving (or paying) child support or alimony, a divorce decree will be required, and this income typically must be scheduled for at least three more years from the time of loan closing.
  • Most recent two months statements for all checking, savings, investment, and retirement accounts. You must include all pages even if a page says “intentionally left blank” or you think there is no relevant information on certain pages.
  • If you move money among accounts, you must provide all accounts even if you’re only using one account for the down payment, because the lender will review every line item on two months of full account statements and ask you to paper-trail large deposits and withdrawals.
  • If you’re receiving gift funds, your lender will require all donors and receivers to sign a gift letter verifying the gift isn’t a loan. Some lenders want to see the donor’s accounts for verification of the donor’s ability to gift, and some only want to see the funds being received in your account. And for further reference, here are specific rules for using gift funds as down payment.


A Note About Technology

The detailed list above is only partial. As mortgage industry technology improves, more lenders will be able to obtain many of the documents above from their sources (with your authorization) rather than getting paper, emails, or uploads from you.

Improved technology may help with convenience, but it won’t reduce the documentation needed, so this list provides the proper perspective of what goes into a loan approval.

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