The most important thing you can do to save time and get the best deal is to get organized as your very first step.
You’re going to have to fight the urge to jump right in and start calling loan officers – that’s what a person new to the mortgage process would do.
But here’s why that’s a rookie mistake.
If you call loan officers before you are organized, you’ll be reacting to whatever that loan officer is asking for in terms of paperwork, and time starts slipping away. Before you know it, you’ve filled out your application (what the loan officer wants) and that starts the credit clock, which is the window you can get your credit score pulled without it affecting your score.
Then, you think: I better shop around! But when you go to a new loan officer, they ask for all kinds of different paperwork. Now, you’re getting slowed down.
You end up panicking and just go with the first loan officer, losing all of your negotiation power. Then you’re truly beholden to them and at the mercy of their timeline.
Getting organized gives you power and helps cut the time in half
Getting organized should take you a maximum of three hours. But you’ll save so many more hours in time in doing it first.
Once you are organized, you can pull the information you need effortlessly. Here are some things people say about getting organized:
“When my loan officer asked for my tax returns for the third time, I didn’t even sweat it!” (yes, this happens all the time)
“I feel like getting organized made my loan officer realize that they were dealing with a savvy person, and they were less likely to think I was someone they could take advantage of.”
What to pull together
Here’s a list of the things you’ll want to pull together.
- W-2 forms from the previous two years, if you collect a paycheck.
- Profit and loss statements or 1099 forms, if you own a business.
- Two months of recent paycheck stubs.
- Your last two years of tax returns
- Proof of pension income, if applicable
- Social Security and Disability payments, if applicable
- Alimony payments, if applicable
- Proof of other income, such as rental, if applicable
- Proof of bonus income, if applicable
- Letter of explanation and a source for any money given to you as a gift
- Bank statements for the past two months
- Mutual fund statements, brokerage statements and/or records of other investments for the past two months
- 401k statements
- Documents for non-primary residence real estate holdings (property address, current market value, mortgage lender’s name and address, loan account number, balance and monthly payment)
A complete list of your monthly debts, such as credit cards, student loans, car loans and child support payments, home equity lines of credit, along with minimum monthly payments and balances.
Copy of current mortgage statement
- Scan of your driver’s license, front and back
- Scan of passport photo page
Next step: Set up your folders
It’s a good idea to organize these things on your computer, somewhere accessible.
You’ll want folders for each category so it’s easy to pull things when you need them, We already set up folders you can use – you can grab our sample folders here. We put them on Dropbox. Just copy and paste the folders into your own computer.
This is where you can store your scanned documents, like bank statements, driver’s license, etc. so you can find them easily during the refi process.
Tally up your debts
If you’ve downloaded our folders, go into the Debts folder and you’ll find a worksheet that you can fill out to itemize your debts. Or, you can download it directly here.
Simply add your current debts, and, voila! You are done. Now you’ll have this information at your fingertips for any other loan officers you want to contact.
Go get yourself a treat. Seriously. You’ve done something really smart.
Now, you’re ready to get your mortgage with the information you’ll need at your fingertips, poised to shop around effortlessly and with the most negotiation power.
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