You’ve researched the neighborhood and spent hours scouring listings online. You know the best zip codes and school zones and are ready for the next step in the home buying process – getting pre-approval from your mortgage lender.

There is a lot that goes into determining if you qualify for a loan, but most traditional lenders will consider these five categories:

  1. Character

Your credit score will tell lenders about your character and your credit history. Do you pay your bills on time? Are your accounts in good standing? If your credit score is poor, you should focus on improving it before applying for a home loan.

  1. Capacity

This category measures your ability to pay back your loan. Your income, and your job stability, will come into play here, as well your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Your DTI is calculated by dividing total recurring monthly debt by gross monthly income. A ratio over 36 percent could mean you’ll pay more interest or that you will be denied a loan. If your DTI is over 36 percent, you should focus on lowering it by paying down your current debt, not taking on more debt and avoiding big purchases, such as a car, on credit before you buy a home.

  1. Capital

Capital refers to the money you have, or will have, to purchase your new home. Buyers with a down payment will have a better chance of obtaining a loan but a down payment is not a necessity. There are various loan programs that do not require a down payment.

  1. Collateral

In the case of home loans, collateral is the home itself. If you default on the mortgage, the bank will seize the home – this is why a home appraisal is almost always required before obtaining a loan.

  1. Conditions

Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market in your area? What is the current interest rate? These are conditions that can impact home prices in your area as well as your ability to get into a home.

Getting pre-approved for a home loan can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Make sure to work with an experienced, full-time agent who can help guide you through the process.

Contact Heidi Winston of Winston Realty Group for all of your real estate needs. For more information or to schedule a showing, visit www.winstonrealtygroup.com or email Heidi@WinstonRealtyGroup.com. Once you work with us, you'll be glad we're your real estate professionals.