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Most Commonly Asked Questions From First Time Homebuyers

a couple buying a new home
First Time Homebuyers AffinityFCU Blog
By: Carolyn Morganbesser
AVP Mortgage Originations

Date: May 25, 2022

How do I know where to get a mortgage without having my credit checked multiple times while shopping around?

There is no shortage of catchy marketing, talking about fees, rates, and closing costs that can cause confusion among homebuyers whether it’s your first home or your fifth. At Affinity, we have no lender fees. These can be called other things like an origination fee, application fee, or rate-lock fee. Sometimes a “fee-free” loan adds to the interest rate which can cost even more over the life of the loan than a onetime fee at closing. These are helpful insights to keep in mind when deciding on where to shop for a mortgage. At Affinity, we are a non-profit organization committed to helping our members find the best mortgage for their goals and budget. This means we don’t need to tack on fees to grow our share price to benefit investors. Our focus is on our members.

Someone I know said that they got their mortgage from their financial institution but now make the monthly payment to a different company. Will that happen to me at Affinity?

No, this will not happen to Affinity mortgage holders. It’s common for lenders to sell the mortgage servicing rights (“MSR”) to a third party. This is likely what happened in that situation. These third parties can sometimes have poor customer service and be difficult to reach with questions about your loan, this includes taxes, insurance, and other details that might need maintenance during the life of the loan. Affinity does not sell servicing rights to our loans so all your questions and mortgage payments will be handled by Affinity.

I am moving from New York to Pennsylvania, can I still go to Affinity to get my mortgage?

Yes, Affinity can lend in all 50 states and work with you remotely if you are not near one of our branch locations.

What is the difference between a preapproval and a prequalification, and does it matter which one I have when shopping or submitting an offer?

A lot of mortgage lenders offer a prequalification to homebuyers either online or over the phone based on a few questions regarding your income and assets. Typically, this doesn’t require a hard credit inquiry or would only need what is called a “soft pull” and can help prospective buyers get an idea of what their budget is or if they need to take additional steps before starting their home search. A preapproval is a much stronger indicator of your financial standing and purchasing power because it is based on the same documentation that would be required to apply for a loan. A preapproval reviews your account statements, tax documents and credit history, amongst other documents, to determine the amount you would qualify for. Preapprovals are my recommendation to any homebuyer that is actively looking to buy a home, especially in competitive markets since it would communicate to sellers your ability to secure financing.

Preapproved Affinity members are able to take advantage of our Lock and Look1 program that allows you to lock in an interest rate for 90 days while shopping for a home. This can be helpful during periods when interest rates are rising rapidly.

How do I get preapproved and how long does it take?

To get preapproved you will need recent documents including (2) years W2’s and/or federal tax returns and (2) months of pay stubs and complete account statements. Once this has been gathered and shared a preapproval letter can be ready in as soon as 24 hours.

I’m a little worried about my credit score and student loan debt. Can I still buy a house with a low score?

Affinity’s minimum required credit score for a mortgage loan purchase is 620. However, mortgage credit scores are calculated differently than your FICO which is most looked at. Working with a loan officer and other Affinity programs can help you get there sometimes faster than you think. Affinity members have access to free credit counseling2 which can provide guidance on how to strategically improve your score. Or consider our debt consolidation3 loans that may help lower your monthly payments which can help decrease your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. These are various strategies that your loan officer can discuss with you.

No matter what your question is, Affinity is here to help you navigate through the homebuying process. We are available to you online, by phone or at any of our branch locations to talk through your mortgage needs or help step up a plan for buying a home in the future with any of our savings’ options.

This information is for informational purposes only and is intended to provide general guidance and does not constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Each person’s circumstances are different and may not apply to the specific information provided. You should seek the advice of a financial professional, tax consultant, and/or legal counsel to discuss your specific needs before making any financial or other commitments.

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