We are bombarded everyday by bad advice from non-experts. Bad medical advice, bad business advice, bad fashion advice, etc.
As a home loan originator, I’m not qualified to touch any of those three, but I can refute some of the worst mortgage advice I’ve heard people give, and sincerely believe.
Worst home mortgage advice #1: Don’t bother with pre-approval
Technically it’s not necessary to get pre-approval for a loan, but it’s still a very good idea. You may hear that because a pre-approval isn’t reviewed by an underwriter, it’s not official.
It’s true that pre-approval doesn’t directly help you to buy a home, but what it does do is prevent you from becoming dead set on a house you can’t afford. More important, if there are multiple offers for a property, a pre-approval allows you to separate yourself from the pack.
Worst home mortgage advice #2: Get your home mortgage from a bank where you have an account.
You won’t necessarily get the best deal on a home mortgage from the bank where you have a savings account, even if you have a lot of trust in them. To get the best home mortgage you’ll need to shop around and explore your options. You may need to enlist the help of an expert.
This is a myth that banks are quite happy to promote. Often they will promise that their customers will get better service and an easier application process than if they went elsewhere. But this isn’t necessarily true.
Worst home mortgage advice #3: Skip through the fine print
It’s quite common for people to treat mortgage paperwork just like the Itunes terms of service. But skimming, or not reading, your mortgage agreements is a very bad idea.
Read through your contract very slowly, and very carefully. If something seems off, ask! Better to spend a few hours reading the contract than to potentially lose tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a deal that wasn’t what you thought.
Worst home mortgage advice #4: Take the deal with the lowest interest rate
Don’t get us wrong, a low interest rate is a good thing. A low interest rate means low monthly payments. But don’t prioritize interest rate over all other considerations, because a low interest rate may come with any number of unfavorable caveats.
For instance, adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) can have very low interest rates, but, as the name implies, these rates are adjustable. If interest rates suddenly increase you could find yourself paying much more than you bargained for.
This may or may not be acceptable. ARMs are perfectly valid options for home mortgages. However, the key point is to be aware of what you’re getting.
Worst home mortgage advice #5: Borrow as much as you can!
If you can borrow enough to live in a really nice home, why not, right?
Technically you can qualify for monthly payments up to 50% of your income, but living within your means is always wise. If you were to go without work for a while, or have a medical emergency, would you also risk your home?
Living frugally is one of the best pieces of home mortgage advice you’ll hear.