Frequently Asked Questions

I’m ready to get pre-approved. Now what? What documentation will I need to provide to get pre-approved?

A Discovery Call! The purpose of the Discovery Call is to learn about your goals and desires as well as for us to explain the entire loan process. Required documentation is different for each borrower. Our mortgage professionals and analysts will let you know what documentation applies to your unique situation. No wasting time, no requests for irrelevant documents - just what we need!

Curious about what’s standard? Here’s a normal list of documentation needed.

  • Clear copy of your driver's license
  • Current months' worth of pay stubs
  • 2 years’ most recent W2s and 1099s
  • 2 years’ most recent personal federal tax returns
  • 2 years’ most recent corporate tax returns for any corporations in which you have 25% or greater ownership
  • Most recent 2 months' bank statements
  • Most recent quarterly (or last 2 months') retirement/investment statements
  • Mortgage statements for all properties that you own
  • Homeowners insurance declaration page for all properties that you own
  • Current HOA statement for all properties that you own (if located in a condo or PUD development)
  • Lease agreements for any properties which you own and rent out to tenants

Ready to go? You can begin online using the secure link below to apply and upload documents.

The best place to begin is to apply online. Please use the secure link below.

Click Here to Apply and Upload Documents.

Once we receive your documentation we typically turn around a decision within 24 hours. Oh, and we never charge for pre-approval services!

How long is my pre-approval valid?

Pre-approvals are valid for 90 days. That means you’ve got 90 days to show potential sellers, listing and buying agents, you mean BUSINESS! Once your loan is approved, we can close your purchase loan in as little as 14 days! Trust us when we say that our blazing speed and smooth escrow process makes sellers and listing agents excited to accept offers from our clients.

My pre-approval expired. What should I do?

Updating your pre-approval is quick and easy. Since we already have most of your documentation, we will simply need to obtain updated pay stubs and bank statements from you. We may also need to refresh your credit report.

My loan is pre-approved. Now what?

Happy house-hunting! You and your Realtor can begin your search with the confidence of knowing that you are fully qualified for the price range in which you are looking. During this time, your Realtor may come to us for updated pre-approval letters which are specific to the property and price you wish to write an offer on. Your agent will have already been furnished a credit score disclosure and a redacted proof of funds to forward along with your offer.

Need an extra hand on the way to “closed’? We’ll contact the listing agent to assure them of your qualifications and of our ability to deliver a stress-free escrow. In a highly competitive market, this can make all the difference.

My loan is pre-approved but I don’t have a real estate agent.

We’ll dig into our deep network and match you with a real estate agent that’s right for you.

Why is my credit score online higher than the one on your credit report?

Online credit reporting companies are meant to provide an “all purpose” credit report. Credit scoring models vary depending upon the reason for your inquiry. For example, if you are shopping for a car, the auto dealership will run a credit report with scoring criteria that places more emphasis on your credit history as it relates to auto loans. A mortgage credit report is specific to home financing and has its own specific criteria.

Do you have to pull my credit during the pre-approval stage?

Your credit history and qualifying credit scores are as crucial to your pre-approval as your income and your assets. Having a formal pre-approval in hand when making purchase offers gives you an edge over other competing buyers because it assures the seller that you are ready and able to purchase their home. To ensure that we have done our due diligence, we can’t use a credit report from another lender.

One of the main fears that our clients share with us is that too many credit inquiries may lower their score. We understand this and want to provide you with some helpful information to alleviate this concern.

To Learn More, Visit The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau's Website.

Does my spouse's credit score matter?

It depends. FHA loans require that we factor in your spouse’s debts when qualifying you for a home loan. Most Conventional and Jumbo loans, including VA loans, do not have that same requirement. Our knowledgeable team members are well versed in program guidelines and will prepare you up front if your spouse’s credit is a factor in your specific loan scenario.

What are impounds?

Setting up an impound account (also known as “escrow account”) with your loan payment servicer is a way to include property taxes and homeowner’s insurance in your monthly mortgage payment. Then, your mortgage loan payment servicer will make the lump sum payouts to the tax assessor and to the insurance company when the premiums come due every year. When setting up your impound reserve account, the lender has to forecast the due dates and collect enough reserves from you up front so that they have sufficient funds to pay out the taxes when they come due. This will add more in funds up front at the closing of your loan, however the benefit is that it avoids your having to personally pay large tax and insurance bills during the year when it may be inconvenient to do so. You won’t need to pay your insurance or property taxes out-of-pocket ever again since they will be rolled into your mortgage payment each month.

If you are putting less than 10% down on your home, in most cases the lender will require you to set up an impound account for your taxes and insurance. If you have a down payment of more than 10% on your home, impounds are optional for you. Deciding on whether to have impounds is a question of your comfort level in coming up with large sums throughout the year to cover your taxes and insurance versus paying a larger monthly mortgage payment. There is no additional cost nor benefit to having impounds versus not having them. If you would like more guidance on whether an impound account is right for you, please give us a call.

Should I be prepared to pay anything other than the down payment?

The simple answer is YES!

Closing costs (which are all fees and costs above and beyond your down payment) are a part of any purchase or refinance. Most closing costs are not loan-related costs, but rather they are third party fees such as: Independent Escrow and Title fees, Homeowner’s Insurance Policy, prorated Property Taxes, County Recording fees, etc. Loan costs are generally limited to your credit report, appraisal, underwriting fee, and occasional costs for property specific searches like a verification that your home is not in a flood zone. Beyond that, if you are paying “loan fee,” it is likely because you have selected a rate that comes at a “cost” (also known as “points” or a “discount fee”).

How much of a down payment do I need?

We offer a variety of loan programs including VA loans which are available with No Down Payment. We also offer FHA loans that require a minimum of 3.5% down, and Conventional First Time Homebuyer programs available with as little as 3% down.

Can I roll closing costs into the loan?

Sometimes. Whether you are purchasing or refinancing your home, some loan programs allow you to select an interest rate that offers a credit from the lender to offset some or all of your closing costs, thereby allowing you to avoid coming out-of-pocket for those amounts. If you are refinancing your home and have enough equity, you will also have the option to structure the loan so that the costs are financed into your new loan amount.

How are mortgage companies compensated?

Mortgage Brokers are compensated at a fixed percentage based upon the dollar volume of loans closed, similar to how a real estate agent receives a fixed percentage of the purchase price on a sale. This amount does not change based upon a higher or lower interest rate, or specific type of loan program chosen. What this means to you is that our primary goal is to find you the very best rate and program to meet your specific needs. You can rest assured that compensation is never a factor in selecting the best options for our clients.

What are points and how should I consider paying them?

Points, also known as discount points, lower your interest rate in exchange paying for an upfront fee.

Before deciding whether or not to pay points to buy down your mortgage rate, calculate the cost to buy it down compared to the actual monthly savings. Bear in mind that a portion of your monthly payment may be tax deductible, so the savings may in truth be a little less than the exact difference between payments.

We're happy to walk you through the math to decide if paying points is right for you.

Are there any up-front fees?

At Hillhurst Mortgage, we never charge our clients up-front application fees or credit report fees. As a borrower, you should be prepared to pay for a property appraisal near the beginning of your loan transaction. This is a third-party fee that goes directly to the appraisal firm.

What is Mortgage Insurance (MI) and when is it required?

Mortgage Insurance protects both the borrower and the lender against missed mortgage payments due to certain unforeseen circumstances. Mortgage Insurance is required whenever a single loan exceeds 80% of the property value or sales price. You don't necessarily have to make a 20% down payment to avoid MI. There are many other options, including splitting your home financing into a first and second trust deed loan (also known as a piggyback loan). This limits the first trust deed lender’s exposure as they are only financing a portion of the total. Piggyback loans typically alleviate the need for mortgage insurance. Other options include self-insured loans (higher rates of interest in lieu of mortgage insurance), and VA loans that do not require mortgage insurance even up to 100% financing (However, VA loans do require a VA funding fee paid directly to the VA).

When a client is putting less than 20% down, our policy is to compare loan scenarios with and without MI to help you determine which of the loan options is the best for you, both from a closing cost perspective and in terms of saving on monthly payments.

If I have a recent bankruptcy or foreclosure, can I still get a home loan?

There are loans available for borrowers who are as little as one day out of foreclosure and bankruptcy. These loans are called Non-Qualified Mortgages (Non-QM). They do however come at a premium. Additionally, they have larger equity requirements, requiring you to put down a higher than minimum down payment on standard conforming loans. The equity requirements can be 30% or more, but loan guidelines are changing every day, so please contact us for the newest updates.

For clients in which at least two years have passed since discharging their bankruptcy or three years since foreclosure, FHA and VA loans offer more flexibility and you may be eligible to qualify for one of these programs.

How long does it take to close a mortgage; can I close escrow within 30 days?

We can close most conventional purchases as fast as 14 calendar days – from signing your purchase contract to funding your loan. More difficult loans such as VA and FHA loans require slightly longer periods of time. However, 30 days is a realistic closing window for some of the more complex loans.

How do Mortgage Brokers and Lenders come up with the interest rate options that they offer?

We are the Lightning Lenders! We have a proven track record of closing loans in record time, most of the time in 18 days or less.

When should I lock in my interest rate and is there a fee to lock it?

There is never a fee to lock your loan with Hillhurst Mortgage. If you are purchasing a home, we need a fully executed purchase contract in order to lock an interest rate in for you. This is especially important because we want to ensure that we have locked in your rate for a time frame long enough to get you to your close of escrow date.

If you are refinancing, we can secure your rate just as soon as we have received your loan application and supporting documents.

How do Mortgage Brokers and Lenders come up with the interest rate options that they offer?

Mortgage rates are based on the price of mortgage-backed securities (MBS), which are bonds bought and sold on Wall Street. Rates change daily, and sometimes on a volatile day, may change more than once. Lenders publish daily rate sheets which offer a variety of loan programs and their corresponding interest rates, again all set by the market.

At Hillhurst Mortgage, our qualified Mortgage Analysts review rate sheets from the top lenders in the nation to find the lowest rates and best loan programs to meet the needs of our clients. We are not incentivized in any way to offer higher rates to our customers. In fact, our ability to choose from a variety of lenders allows us to be extremely competitive.

What is the benefit of using a local mortgage broker instead of a national bank?

Most experienced Realtors will echo our sentiments and often educate their clients on this very topic. When a property seller is presented with two different offers from two equally qualified buyers, often the buyer who has chosen to work with a national bank will lose out to the buyer who has a pre-approval from a known local mortgage broker. The simple truth is that banks run on their own timelines. They typically have large departments full of employees who punch a time clock and whose hours are limited. Large banks utilize a nationwide panel of appraisers and don’t always select local appraisers who are familiar with the area, resulting in you (the buyer) being unable to meet the deadlines in your purchase contract. Using an appraiser who doesn’t know the area can bring about an inaccurate appraisal with an unreasonably low value. When you work with Hillhurst Mortgage, you will get a completely personalized approach with a team available 24/7 who can meet your contract deadlines. Additionally, the lenders we work with only use appraisers who know the areas that we serve. The bottom line is that your local mortgage broker cares, their reputation depends on it, and real estate agents know it.

I have received so many disclosure documents. Which document should I look for in order to understand my total fees and costs?

The Loan Estimate (LE) is the document that all mortgage companies are required to provide you with once you have completed a loan application and you are in escrow on a property. The LE document replaces the Good Faith Estimate. It contains all of the fees and costs that you can expect to incur during your transaction.

My loan is in process and the lender is asking me about large deposits in my bank account. I have plenty of money. Why does the lender care where it came from?

In recent years, since the “Mortgage Meltdown” or “Great Recession,” mortgage regulations have been put in place to ensure that the money being used for down payments and closing costs is the borrower’s money. Mortgage underwriters are trained to look for red flags that indicate the possibility of borrowed funds. The biggest red flags are large or unusual deposits in a borrower’s bank account. Lenders will ask for a detailed explanation and in some cases a paper trail to document that the large or unusual deposit was not a loan or funds from someone other than the borrower.

The lender already verified my employment at the beginning of my loan. Why do they need to call my employer and re-verify it at closing?

This is another ramification of the “Mortgage Meltdown” and subsequent “Great Recession.” Misrepresentation and fraud were rampant, leading to the falsification of employment to qualify for a home loan that the borrower would otherwise not be able to afford. All lenders now perform a verbal verification of employment just days before closing to ensure that all borrowers are employed in the same position that they were when they applied for the loan.