October 1, 2021
When it’s time to get a mortgage for a new home or refinance your current one, the first thing you’ll need to do is gather documents. Read on to discover what you’ll need and how to prepare your paperwork correctly, so everything is easy to read.
Mortgage Loan Documents Checklist
Every borrower will have different document requirements depending on their income sources, type of loan, and whether it’s a purchase or refi. Here are the most common documents needed.
- ID — Drivers’ license, passport, or other government-issued ID
- Bank statements — 2 months, all pages
- Paystubs — most recent 30 days
- W2s or 1099s — 2 years
- Retirement statements — 2 to 3 months
- Social security award letter — most recent
- Tax returns personal — 2 years
- Tax returns business — 2 years
- Mortgage statement (for refi)
- Home insurance policy (for refi)
Correct Documentation & Speed of Closing
No matter what type of loan you’re getting — conventional, VA, or FHA the best way you can help speed everything up is to be prepared with all your documents ready to upload. Make sure everything is easy to read and the copies are clear. It’s best to download statements and documents directly from the source – for example Social Security, your mortgage lender, and credit union or bank. When your loan processor and eventually the underwriter look at your file, your documents tell a story. They prove your income, assets and illustrate your ability to pay.
Each time the loan officer, processor, underwriter, and the closing department have to ask for clarification — it adds time. As a borrower, your goal should be to submit all documents needed for mortgage pre-approval and application quickly and completely.
Keep in mind, no matter what lender you use. Underwriting departments can get busy. Turn-around times can vary. And when they have to ask for clarification, depending on their workload, it could add days to the process. By being prepared, you’re putting yourself in the best position to close on time, possibly early.
Mortgage Tax Documents - Tips
Most tax filings have multiple pages and schedules. If you have an accountant that files your taxes, the best way to submit your taxes to your lender is via a PDF file. Contact your accountant and see if they can email you a PDF version of the most recent two years’ taxes. That way, you can easily upload them to your lender. And the copy will be easy to read.
If that’s not possible, you’ll need to scan each page and create one document. This can’t be done on your phone. If you don’t have a scanner, you can either go to an office supply store like Office Depot or Staples. You can scan them yourself or have them scanned for you. The other alternative is to buy a scanner. You can get a basic one for around $100 online.
Scanning Tips for Documents Needed for Mortgage
If you want your loan to go smoothly, take the time to prepare your documents. Here are the top things to keep in mind:
- Ensure every document you’re submitting is 100% readable. If it’s hard to read, the underwriter will probably ask for another copy which will slow down the process.
- If a document has multiple pages, they all need to be in one document. If you’re scanning individual pages with your phone and sending them separately, there’s a good chance pages will be lost.
- Include all pages, even if blank. If a document has five pages and the fifth page is blank, you still need to include it. Otherwise, the underwriter will ask for it, and that slows down the loan process.
- If you need to send a single page, it’s OK to scan it with your phone as long as it’s readable. Place the document on a dark background and take the picture in good lighting. Edit the photo if needed to make it easier to read.
More Loan Document FAQs
Q: What documents do I need to refinance my mortgage?
A: Besides the general documents, you’ll need a current mortgage statement and homeowners insurance declaration page.
Q: What documents do I need for a VA loan?
A: In addition to the list above, you’ll need your DD-214. With that, your lender will be able to get your COE. You should do this early in the process because sometimes it takes a while to get what you need from the VA.
Q: What’s the best way to save the documents?
A: Have a separate folder on your desktop and save all your documents in that folder. That way, they’re easy to resend if needed.
Q: What’s the best way to label documents?
A: Name-date, for example, W2-2020, Personal taxes-2020, SS awards letter Joe-2020, SS awards letter Mary-2020.
Q: Will I need to submit all of the above documents for pre-approval?
A: It depends on the lender. PenFed, has you submit your documents right away when applying. That way your pre-approval is much more solid.
As you can see, there are quite a few documents needed whether you’re getting a purchase loan or refinance. Ensure you put aside enough time to gather everything together. For some — especially the self-employed, it could take an entire weekend to get what you need.
To learn more about PenFed loans or what loan is right for you: