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Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Mortgage

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Whether you're an HGTV fan or you've been talking to friends and family about the benefits of homeownership, you may be gearing up for a home search of your own. Along with that, of course, will come a mortgage application process, as well. You may have already checked your credit report and set aside some money for the earnest money deposit and down payment. Mission accomplished, right? Well, not so fast.

While you may be ahead of the game right now, there are still some errors that can sidetrack your home buying goals and make mortgage approval more difficult. Check out our list of mistakes to avoid when applying for a mortgage so that you don't fumble the ball in the red zone.

1. Plundering Your Savings

You may have calculated your potential down payment to the penny, and now you want to put some of your savings toward other fun bells and whistles for your new home. However, you'll still need to pay for closing costs, a home inspection, and a variety of other items during the purchase process. Make sure you've saved more than you think you'll need, just in case.

2. Running Up Credit Cards

Here too, you may be thinking about buying a house full of furniture or a top-notch home electronics system, but you'll need to resist the temptation. Plunging into debt at this point could jeopardize your mortgage approval by changing your credit score or debt to income ratio.

3. Buying That New Car

Many buyers use the opportunity of purchasing a new home as a chance to buy a new car to park in the driveway. However, this too can change your debt burden and undermine your chances of loan approval. Even if you're approved, carrying more debt can keep you from qualifying for the best interest rates on your mortgage.

4. Quitting Your Job

Perhaps you've been thinking about moving to a new company or staying home with the kids. While that may make sense for your career, it's a bad idea to do so — right before you apply for your mortgage. That's because one of the factors your lender will consider is your employment history and income, and both will need to be solid when you apply.

5. Starting a Business

If you're dreaming of entrepreneurship, you may want to put your startup goals on hold until after you've purchased your home. It will be much easier to earn approval based on the income from your current job. Alternatively, you may want to wait until your business is well-established and you can show a solid history of earnings.

6. Failing to Keep Good Records

You'll need to provide a variety of financial records to your lender, including tax records, investment records, bank statements, employment verification, and more. In addition, if you've used gift funds for part of your down payment, you'll need letters from the givers. Start early organizing your records so that you can provide them quickly when requested.

7. Buying More House Than You Can Afford

It's easy to get swept up by the excitement of real-life house hunting and end up with a mile-long wish list and a house that costs too much. Talk to your lender and your real estate professional early in the process and put together a budget that makes sense, both for your income and for your lifestyle.

8. Buying Because "Everybody Else" is Buying

It's important to understand what goes into homeownership and to make an informed decision before you buy. Take a look at your budget, lifestyle, and plans for the future to determine whether a real estate purchase makes sense for you right now. Remember, just because your friends are buying or you're in the middle of a hot market doesn't mean that this is the right time and the right commitment for you.

9. Buying With the Wrong Person

Remember that when you purchase a home with a friend, family member, or significant other, your interest rate and approval amount are based on the financial history you share. That can mean that you could end up paying a higher interest rate because of their bad credit rating. Make sure that your co-buyer is trustworthy, fiscally responsible, and truly ready for homeownership.

10. Failing to Compare Loan Products

There are a variety of different types of loans with varying terms and down payment requirements. It's important for you to understand all of the different mortgage options available to you so that you can make the right financial decisions — both long-term and short-term.

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