Your top mortgage questions, answered (by a pro)

If you’ve ever even thought about buying a house, then you’ve certainly had mortgage questions. Everyone does. But not everyone asks! When you’re thinking about buying a home, no mortgage question should go unanswered. Find a lender that is willing to answer all of your questions.

Bryan Zeutenhorst from Gershman Mortgage in Ankeny, Iowa recently sat down with me to answer some of the top mortgage questions. Here’s what he had to say.

1 – What’s the most common question you get about mortgages from home buyers – and how do you answer it?

Question: What’s the process of applying for a mortgage?

Answer: The answer varies. Home buyers start with varying needs and each transaction is different. Some may be buying their first home, some may be straight out of school, and others could have past home buying experiences.

Bryan says he likes to focus first on the individual and find out what each potential home buyer’s needs are. His priority is to determine what they already know, where they want to go and answer all of their questions.

For home buyers new to the process of applying for a mortgage, Bryan takes them step-by-step, through the process, from the application to pre-approval and all the way through to closing.

2 – There are many people out there that think they can’t get a mortgage to buy a home – for various reasons. Whether it’s not enough saved for a down payment, short work history, or iffy credit score. What would you say to these people?

It’s a misnomer that you have to have a 20% down payment, a long work history, a high income, and a high credit score to be able to buy a home. Many people also assume that home ownership is more expensive than renting.

None of this is true.

It pays (literally) to explore loan program options. There are loan programs out there that require as little as 3% down – and some programs allow the down payments to be in the form of a gift or a from a grant program.

One of Bryan’s recent applicants, who qualified for a conventional loan, was able to save over $100 on their monthly payment by using an FHA loan instead (due to differences in private mortgage insurance (PMI) and interest rates).

There are many misconceptions regarding different loan programs and what properties are eligible. For instance, Bryan says people often assume USDA loans are for rural properties only, when, in fact, it’s mostly just larger cities that are excluded.

What about credit score? Bryan utilizes rapid rescoring to help applicants with a lower credit score raise their credit score quickly. The rapid rescoring process can pinpoint specific tasks applicants can do to improve their credit score quickly, and the results are often fast, sometimes within just 48 hours. Sometimes all it takes is paying off a small credit card balance, making a payment, and/or updating creditor’s information to raise your credit score.

Home ownership isn’t always more expensive than renting. Many new mortgage applicants are surprised to learn that, payment-wise, they can sometimes save money on their monthly payment by owning versus renting.

3 – What are the best steps to take before talking to a lender?

The most important thing you can do before meeting with your lender is to come with your questions about buying a home and the mortgage process. Make sure your lender answers all of your questions.

Customer service should be #1 when it comes to mortgage lenders. Bryan answers all questions related to buying a home, whether it’s the related to working with a realtor, finding a home, the mortgage application, appraisal, and more.

4 – What’s the process of applying for a mortgage?

Most of the time the application process itself is pretty simple. You can complete the application online or over the phone to get pre-approval. After that, it’s a matter of finding the right property and asking your lender to run payment options on specific properties for you.

Once you get an offer accepted on a property, you have to gather some paperwork, such as pay stubs and bank statements, to get final approval for the mortgage loan. Bryan provides applicants with a detailed list of the information they need to provide for final approval. Once that information is submitted, it usually only takes around 30 days to close on the property.

5 – How many lenders should home buyers talk to?

Bryan recommends home buyers do their due diligence. Buying a home is a big decision, and like any other important decision in your life, it never hurts to get a second opinion. As he says, if you were having health problems, you wouldn’t hesitate to get a second opinion – you should do the same with lenders.

He emphasizes that the best thing you can do is work with a lender that answers all of your questions without hesitation. Also only work with real estate professionals you trust.

6 – How do you answer the question, “How much house can I afford?”

Bryan says, “If you want accurate numbers, let a human being help you.

When clients that have used the online calculators come to him, he runs the numbers, and they often question why it doesn’t match what they found online. Many of the online calculators are misleading since they often exclude essential pieces of financial information, such as taxes and insurance.

Before you ever start looking for a home, take Bryan’s advice and talk to a human being that can answer your questions.

7 – What do you think is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to applying for a mortgage?

The biggest mistake people make is not even applying for a mortgage in the first place – or look into getting one – if they truly want to buy a house. People tend to judge their scenario before they even know whether or not they could make it work.

They might not fully understand the mortgage process or they could think it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars in income. They might feel their credit score is low, they don’t make enough money, and don’t have enough saved.

Rather than make assumptions, they should verify the information and explore their options. If they really want to be homeowners, there are things they can do to make it work for them eventually.

Don’t assume you won’t qualify for a loan. Find a lender who will answer your questions, understands your situation, and is willing to help you through the process.

“You can own a home if you want to take on the task of being a homeowner.” – Bryan Z.

8 – What would you say is the most challenging part of getting a mortgage?

The roller coaster of emotions that go along with buying a home. With the competitive market we’ve been in, a person could make an offer on a property, only to find out another offer was accepted just two hours ago.

In these and other circumstances around buying a home, emotions can run high. As a mortgage lender, it’s important to support home buyers, let them know that finding a house can take patience and what they’re experiencing is normal. It’s helpful to keep them even-tempered, with expectations neither too high or too low.

9 – Any success stories to share?

Bryan worked with a single mom with four children in 2017. She was on her own, with no child support or alimony, and for years she had been paying around $1000/month in rent for a subpar apartment.

She went to him in February of 2017 to see if there was any way she could buy a home for her and her children. She wanted a yard for her kids to play in. Though he couldn’t get her a loan at that time, Bryan gave her a list of things she could do to improve her financial standing and qualify for a mortgage.

In just six months she did what she needed to do and raised her credit score by 60 points. By December 2017, this mom closed on a home of her own, with a yard for her children to play in.

Have mortgage questions you need answered? Wonder if you can afford to buy a home? Bryan Zeutenhorst from Gershman Mortgage has the answers. Give him a call at 515-964-5952 or send him a message at bryanz@gershman.com.

Whether you’re selling or buying a home, the process can feel intimidating and overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to. At Coluzzi Real Estate, we answer all your questions and simplify the process. We’re here for you every step of the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today!


About the Author:

Amanda has lived in the Des Moines area since 1999, where she and her husband have bought and sold a handful of homes over the years, including a recent flip. Amanda enjoys writing, obsesses about personal finance and is fond of looking at houses. She loves sharing useful tips and info to make life easier for anyone wanting to buy or sell a home. In her spare time, Amanda cherishes time with her family, volunteers with IHYC, gardens, hikes, and practices TaeKwonDo. You can read more of her writing at whywemoney.com