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Power of two incomes can help couples qualify for larger loan

By Jessica Rodrigo
Jan. 7, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.
Updated Jan. 6, 2013 at 7:07 p.m.


The first thing couples need to do when they decide to buy a home is choose a mortgage lender to talk with about loan options.

Mortgage Adviser Sheila Arnold, of Coldwell Banker The Ron Brown Company, and other mortgage lenders will need to look at the couple's address and employment history during the past two years, along with banking and credit history. In addition to those things, she advises that couples bring in all the usual identification cards and papers for the loan application process, which can be completed within a day's time.

Once the couple qualifies for a loan, the next step is to find a real estate agent who they are comfortable working with. The length of the buying process depends on how quickly the couple hopes to make an offer on a home. After the approval process, closing on the home may take between 30 to 45 days, Arnold said.

Judy VanZant, a Realtor with Cornerstone Properties, said narrowing down preferences can help move the process forward. Having a neighborhood in mind can help, she explained, as well as knowing the number of bedrooms desired, proximity to schools and work and other important details.

"You may not find - on the first go-around - homes," she said. "You may not find what you want."

When her clients haven't fallen in love with any of the homes available at that time, she builds a list of their wants and keeps their preferences in mind when looking at other homes on the market. Victoria is experiencing a shortage in homes, she said, because it is a good market.

"If they look and they like (a house), they better do something, because it doesn't last," she said. "If it's a great house and a great buy, it's not going to last maybe about half a day."

Newlyweds have an advantage when buying a home, she said, because they have a dual income. By putting all their eggs into one basket, they may qualify for a higher price range together.

This may also create a greater challenge because two personalities are involved in the process. There might be something that one wants but the other doesn't. Or there may be a situation when one person has outstanding credit and the other has student loans and unpaid debt.

"Don't try to buy a home if you know that you can't afford it," advised VanZant.

The best thing a couple can do before buying a home is build their credit. If a person's credit score is low, her best advice is to work on eliminating the debt that is bringing the score down.

Arnold agreed that individual credit ratings will dictate what the couple can be approved for.

"Depending on what kind of credit that person has, it will drive your application toward an approval," she said.

Arnold, who has been in the industry for 20 years, said a lot has changed in lending requirements since the mortgage crisis hit in 2006.

"The best thing to do is be patient and be knowledgeable of what you're doing," she said.

Lenders may ask for extra paperwork if they need it, and she said its a good idea to just grin and bear it until the process is done. It might be stressful at times, but in the end, the couple will know where they stand as far as buying a home.

"Homeownership is a lot better right now than renting because renting is very expensive," she said. "They'd be doing themselves a favor by buying."

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