Judy Rivard - Sawicki Real Estate


If you’re a first-time buyer, odds are you’ve never seen or heard much about mortgage applications. However, for something as important as buying a home, it pays off to go into the process knowing what to expect.

Mortgage applications aren’t all that complicated in and of themselves. Most of the time, your chosen lender will walk you through the process and answer any questions that arise. However, complications do arise when it comes time to provide documentation on things like your income.

To make things easier for your first application, I’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions that first-time buyers often have about their mortgage application process.

Will applying for a mortgage hurt my credit score?

Mortgage lenders will run a credit inquiry to help determine your lending eligibility. There are two types of credit inquiries: hard and soft. A soft inquiry is a quick credit check that doesn’t affect your credit score. A hard inquiry, on the other hand, does. This means your score will be lowered slightly for a few months and then will bounce back.

Mortgage lenders run both types of inquiries. For quick, pre-qualifications, lenders typically run a soft inquiry. Then, as you progress through the approval process, they’re run a detailed credit report (hard inquiry).

What information should I have available?

Lenders will ask you for various documents. The most common things they will ask for include proof of income in the form of  W-2 forms from the previous year and your most recent pay stub. They will also require a record of your other debts, including student loans, auto loans, credit card debt, and any other outstanding debt that you owe. Finally, they will ask for an inventory of your assets. This could include investments, properties, auto titles, and more.

What if I don’t work a conventional job?

People who are self-employed or have unconventional income can still qualify for a loan and will still be required to show proof of income. Lenders may ask for Form 1099 records, tax returns, or any other record or proof of income you have available.

How long does it take to complete an application?

Mortgage applications can be completed as quickly as you gather the required documentation. However, there’s more to getting approved for a mortgage than filling out an application. There will be time needed to process the application, and underwrite your mortgage. This entire process typically takes between 30 and 45 days.

Is it safe to apply for a mortgage online?

Most lenders allow you to start the application process online and their online portals are typically secure. Make sure you check your browser window to ensure that the connection to the site is secured, and you should have nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind that most online applications are designed to get you  prequalified and on your way to getting a mortgage. So, if you want to avoid getting calls from the lender, you might not want to enter any data until you know you’re interested in borrowing at this time.



When it comes to selling a house, it is important to prepare as much as you can. That way, you can identify potential home selling hurdles and overcome these issues before they escalate.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prep for the house selling journey.

1. Analyze All Areas of Your Home

You might believe your home is virtually perfect, but there may be problems that need to be addressed. Because if you fail to resolve various house issues, it may be tough to optimize your home sale earnings.

Oftentimes, it helps to conduct a home inspection before you list a residence. With an inspection report in hand, you can assess home flaws and correct these issues right away.

You may want to perform a home appraisal as well. After an appraisal, you can obtain an appraisal report to help you establish a competitive initial asking price for your residence.

2. Review the Local Housing Sector

The housing market fluctuates, and a buyer's market today could shift into sellers' favor without delay. Thus, you should analyze the local housing sector closely so you can determine whether you are about to enter a buyer's or seller's market.

A buyer's market generally features a high volume of available houses. Comparatively, there is a shortage of available homes in a seller's market, and new houses that become available may sell quickly.

To differentiate between a buyer's and seller's market, you should find out how long homes that are currently available in your city or town have been listed. In addition, review the prices of recently sold houses in your area, and you can see if sellers are accepting offers at or above their initial asking prices.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

If you are unsure about how to plan for the home selling journey, you need to remember that you are not alone. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can work with a property selling expert throughout the home selling journey.

A real estate agent understands how to succeed in any housing market, at any time. First, he or she will learn about you and your home and help you map out a house selling plan. A real estate agent next will help you establish an aggressive initial asking price for your residence and add your home to the local housing market. Then, if you receive an offer to purchase your home, a real estate agent will help you assess this proposal and make an informed home selling decision.

Furthermore, a real estate agent is ready to respond to your house selling questions. There is no home selling question too big or too small for a real estate agent, and as such, you can rely on this professional for in-depth responses to any property selling queries.

Take the guesswork out of selling a home – use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan ahead for the house selling journey.


Photo by Lukas from Pexels

If you're ready to get serious about your home buying journey, one of the first steps is seeing various lenders. As you become more familiar with the process, you'll likely hear the terms preapproval and prequalified mentioned again and again. We'll look at how each letter works and what you should know before approaching a home seller. 

Prequalification Vs. Preapproval 

The key difference between a preapproval and prequalification is that the preapproval letter is much more involved. With a prequalification, the lender will look at the general state of the buyer's assets before estimating how much home they're likely to afford. Lenders are not diving into the buyer's past, which can make real estate agents wary of accepting prequalification letters. 

Preapproval 

With a preapproval letter, you're typically asked to provide the following:

  • Two year's worth of W2s
  • A month's worth of paystubs 
  • Two month's worth of bank statements 
  • Social security card 
  • Considering the amount of paperwork you need to provide (and the lender needs to process), preapproval letters can take months to generate. On the other hand, a prequalification letter can be procured in little more than 24 hours. 

    Additional Facts 

    Here are a few facts that can help you know more about what to expect:

  • Preapproval letters can cost several hundred dollars to generate. We recommend starting with your financial institution because you already have a relationship with them, and they may not charge as much. 
  • You may be able to lock down interest rates at the time of your preapproval letter. This is exceptionally helpful for those who want to know what their payments will be down to the penny. 
  • Make sure to calculate closing costs beforehand so you know exactly how much you'll owe out-of-pocket. 
  • Does It Help to Have Both?

    Not necessarily. Prequalification letters are generally recommended for homebuyers who may not know for sure if they're ready to buy. It's a general indication of how much money you'll get, which can help you decide if it's enough to get a preapproval letter. If you're in a buyer's market, you may be able to get away with a prequalification. However, it's generally the far less coveted letter that you can have. 

    A preapproval letter is definitely the best letter you can take to a seller when you're ready to make a bid on a home, but it's important to note that even these letters may fall through. For example, if a major event occurs (e.g., a job loss, etc.) between when your financial institution issued the letter and when you close on the home. Talking to a real estate agent or financial expert can make it easier to navigate it all. 


    As a home seller, it is important to do everything possible to ensure your residence makes a positive impression on buyers. Because if your residence fails to impress buyers during a showing or open house, your home may linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time.

    Ultimately, there are lots of things you can do to ensure buyers feel good after they view your residence, such as:

    1. Bolster Your Home's Curb Appeal

    When buyers view your home for the first time, you likely want them to fall in love with your residence. If you allocate time and resources to enhance your house's curb appeal, you may make it simple for buyers to see your residence's full potential and envision what life could be like if they purchase your home.

    To upgrade your home's curb appeal, you should perform lawn care tasks like mowing the lawn and trimming the hedges. You also should repair any cracked or chipped home siding, as well as correct any other property exterior issues that could negatively affect a buyer's perception of your house.

    2. Remove Clutter

    Clutter is a problem that may make it tough for buyers to picture a future in your home. If you have excess items scattered around your home, there may be no time like the present to get rid of these items.

    To eliminate clutter, you may want to host a yard sale or list excess items online. In addition, you can always donate any items you no longer need to a local charity or give them to family members or friends.

    3. Clean Each Room of Your Home

    For homebuyers, nothing beats a pristine, tidy home interior. If you clean each room of your house from top to bottom, you can help your home's interior make an unforgettable impression on buyers.

    Taking a room-by-room approach to home cleaning may be ideal. Furthermore, if you need extra assistance, you can hire a professional home cleaning company.

    Of course, if you are searching for ways to streamline the home selling journey, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent is happy to teach you the ins and outs of selling a house and ensure you can maximize your home sale earnings.

    A real estate agent can guide you along each stage of the home selling journey. First, he or she will learn about you and your home selling goals. A real estate agent next will help you list your residence and promote your home to dozens of prospective buyers. Finally, if you receive an offer to purchase your home, a real estate agent will help you determine whether to accept, reject or counter this proposal.

    Clearly, there is no shortage of options to upgrade your residence and ensure it garners buyers' attention. If you take advantage of the aforementioned tips, you could simultaneously help your house stand out to buyers and speed up the home selling cycle.


    Image by LightField Studios from Shutterstock

    When you've owned your house a long time, getting it ready to sell may seem like a daunting task. If relocation is on the horizon for you, get an early start and organize your spaces.

    Ideas to help you get organized right away!

    • Resist the temptation to add items to your home that might not be needed or used in the short term. If you tend to purchase commonly used items in bulk, try to reduce the quantity you store to no more than you can use up within a month or so.

    • Sort your belongings and donate or throw away items or clothing you no longer need. Move items designated for donation into the trunk of your car right away so you have them with you the next time you pass by a donation center.

    • Start small. Choose one thing to organize at a time but make sure you can tackle the project in one day. A drawer, cabinet, or closet would be a great place to start. Every week — or if you're especially motivated, every day — choose another place to organize. Throw away or donate unused items as you go.

    • Get a handle on paper. You will need to keep some physical documents like marriage licenses, certified birth certificates, and passports but for other things like invoices and receipts, a digital version is all you need. If mail is an issue, consider switching to electronic delivery for bank or credit card statements and removing yourself from mailing lists for catalogs or other marketing that you don’t need to receive anymore.

    • Check the sentiment. When an object is received from a special person or under special circumstances it can be hard to part with even if it’s not an object that is used or displayed often. If there are items like this in your home, consider passing them on to someone who will use them. Memorialize the sentimental value with photos or journal entries, the memory is often more important than the thing.

    Organizing is step one toward preparing for a sale.

    Your real estate professional can help you plan for a home sale. They’ll walk through your house with you and show you what items to repair, what to update, and what you might want to pass on or put into storage, contact your agent today to get started.




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