Applying for a mortgage is exciting, because it’s the first step toward becoming a homeowner. But the process can also feel invasive, intimidating, and a little overwhelming. After all, it’s not every day that someone you don’t really know takes a deep dive into your financial life while holding your future in their hands. If you’re wondering what you can do to make the process go more smoothly, here are five things not to do when applying for a mortgage:
Change Jobs — Stability is one of the most important things loan officers are looking for. Immediately before or during the mortgage approval process is not the right time to switch careers, start your own business, leave a job or make the move from a salaried position to a commission-based income. Even if you’re not crazy about your current job, grin and bear it until you have completed the home-buying process. Once you’re happily settled in your new home, you can start looking for a great new gig.
Open or Close Credit Cards — During the mortgage approval process, every financial decision you make is going to be under scrutiny. Opening a new credit card can appear to be a reckless move, particularly if you run it up to its limit quickly. With that in mind, it might seem like closing any unused credit accounts you have would be a good idea. Wrong again. That will change your debt-to-income ratio and possibly hurt your chances of approval. Remember, your loan officer is looking for stability and responsibility, which is why you need to stay the course when it comes to credit.
Co-Sign a Loan — Co-signing a loan might seem harmless, because you’re just helping someone out. You’re not really responsible for paying it back, right? Not true. Co-signing a loan can wreak havoc on your carefully cultivated credit. The fact is, you are 100% responsible for paying that loan back if the other party can’t (or just doesn’t want to). In fact, a recent survey shows that nearly 40% of co-signers actually end up responsible for paying back the co-signed loan. Even after your mortgage is approved, you should always think twice about co-signing; in most cases it’s just not worth the risk.
Make a Late Payment — The excitement of the home-buying process can be hectic and unpredictable, which may cause you to let other things slide. But making a late payment on a credit card (or any other) bill, can spell disaster during the mortgage approval process. Just one late payment can cause a dip in your credit score that may be alarming enough to deny you the loan. Additionally, many lenders require a 12-month record of on-time payments on all accounts as one of the baseline measurements to be considered for a mortgage. To avoid overlooking paying bills during this busy time, set up everything you can on auto-pay so you know all your bills are being taken care of.
Move Money Around — Unusual activity in any of your accounts is going to be a red flag for a mortgage loan officer. Avoid large cash deposits and moving big sums of money between accounts. If you receive any cash gifts intended to help with your down payment, the gift giver may be required to provide documentation that the money was given for that reason.