Amassing a big pile of cash for a down payment–to apply for a mortgage is a daunting task. First-time buyers often rightly pause as they begin to grasp the meaning of the phrase, “mortgaging your future.”
If you can get over that hurdle, you could be well on your way to the seven out of eight mortgage applications that get approved. A pessimist might observe that that means the application has a one-in-eight chance (12.5%) of being rejected.
True enough, but you can reduce the chance of rejection by avoiding a handful of mistakes that have a virtually immediate negative impact on your credit score. The experts at Realtor.com have come up with a list of five mistakes you can easily avoid to make sure that your application is one of the seven that gets approved and not the one that gets rejected.
1. Use your credit cards
One way to establish creditworthiness is to use the credit you have. That doesn’t mean to pile it on, but use the cards you have and pay them on-time to build up a credit history. If you really don’t want to do that, some lenders will look at your history of rent payments and other regular bills that you have.
2. Don’t open new credit cards near the time you are applying for a mortgage
According to Realtor.com, opening a new credit card account can cost you up to five points on your credit score. That may be enough to disqualify you for a mortgage. Also, don’t spend a lot of cash (or use credit on existing cards) before you get the mortgage and moved in.
3. Don’t miss a payment on a medical bill
If you’ve run up some big medical bills, work with the doctor or hospital to develop a payment plan you can live with. Defaulting on a medical bill typically results in the provider referring your account to a collection agency and the agency can refer your status to the credit reporting agencies.
4. Don’t change jobs
Most mortgage lenders want to see at least two years of consistent income before approving a loan. There are exceptions, of course, but sticking with the job you have until the mortgage is approved is a better choice if at all possible.
5. Don’t lie on the mortgage application
This should be obvious. In the first place, if you do stretch the truth, it can be prosecuted as mortgage fraud, a federal crime. Second, mortgage lenders do their homework and chances are you’ll get found out, and there goes the mortgage. While it might seem quaint these days, honesty is the best policy when it comes to getting a mortgage.