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I vaguely recall getting a loan when I purchased my first home.  And what I remember is that it did not seem all that difficult, but that the closing was a nightmare.  The loan officer did not show up for closing, there were charges on the closing statement that hadn’t been revealed to me previously, and the loan officer was nowhere to be found.  As a result, the closing was much more arduous and took a lot longer than it should have.

And while I work with clients every day who are getting a loan to purchase their homes, most of my clients work with my favorite lender.  He makes the process appear seamless to me as a Realtor.  He is patient, explains everything carefully to them, and always answers the phone or returns calls promptly.  So in recent years I have been less aware of what getting a loan is really like.

So when I convinced my husband that buying another home was a great idea, I was not really sure exactly what to expect.  I called my favorite loan officer.  And even though he made the process as easy as possible for me – I had forgotten all the information you need to provide for the loan – recent pay stubs, W-2 statements, tax returns for the last few years.  You will need to get with your lender and fill out forms, provide the documents, and then provide more documents as issues come up.  For instance, my husband was divorced from his first wife, but continued to pay alimony for a period of time after the divorce.  The lending underwriter needed to see the divorce settlement to determine when those obligations ended.  Why, I am not really sure.  But that is how it goes in the lending world these days.  The best advice I can give is to get all your important tax, account and legal papers together and organized and have them ready.  Some documents you may not even know that you need until the very last minute, when the loan goes through final underwriting.  Luckily, although the call came for that divorce document at the last minute and while my husband was overseas, I was able to locate it quickly in his organized files.

So, lesson one – have all important papers ready and handy and make sure that you have filed your income taxes regularly, particularly for the most current year.  I already knew not to make any large purchases between applying for the loan and closing.  Lenders do not like to see large sums of money going OUT of your account(s) during that time.  Now, lots of buyers purchase appliances, furniture, that sort of thing – if it is a large purchase, just run it by your loan officer before you do it.

The other part of this lesson is something I already knew: HAVE A LOAN OFFICER WHO IS ACCESSIBLE, AVAILABLE, AND RETURNS YOUR PHONE CALLS PROMPTLY.  Loans are more difficult these days.  You want someone who can guide you through the process and make sure everything goes great at closing.  Have what I had the second time – a seamless, efficient closing with no surprises that was over in less than an hour.  Do not have a closing like my first one – and you can avoid that by finding the right lender.