Potential homeowners can find the process of getting a loan confusing and frustrating. We reached out to the pros for advice on buying a home in today's market, and found that the most common advice involved the current level of lender scrutiny and need for documentation, making sure to select the right loan officer, and getting pre-approved before starting your home search. See below for all of their helpful comments.

Loan Officer Comments Buying a Home in 2014 Spreadsheet

James Adair "Remember that all of the outrageous scrutiny that your lender will bring to bear upon you has very little to do with you as a borrower/credit risk, and everything to do with the lender's ability to satisfy the requirements of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Logic does not apply. Simply do your best to cooperate with your lender!" - James Adair
Belinda Arender “Understand the level of documentation that mortgages require today. Mortgages are required to be fully documented. With any information that you provide to us, be prepared to document that information. Closed files a few years ago would be an inch or an inch and half thick. Today’s closed files are in the 4 to 5 inch range. Don’t let the amount of documentation scare you, just be prepared for it.” - Belinda Arender
Gary Blount “First time buyers would want to know in today's market that there are plenty of great down payment assistance programs available. Many first time buyers get discouraged and overwhelmed while trying to save up to qualify to buy their dream home. They may be much closer than they think.” - Gary Blount
Gary Blount  
Gary Boyer "Meet your Loan Officer in person! It’s the best way to make sure you are going to have a good working relationship with them and as a Loan Officer I find that people provide far more detail and context when we sit down together than over the phone. This is one of the biggest financial commitments most of us will ever make, so invest an hour in a meeting." - Gary Boyer
Liam Bray "Some advice I would give to a borrower looking to purchase a home in today's market would be to get your ducks in a row in regards to “financing” before you find the house you want to purchase. So many times borrowers look on-line and find a home to purchase and then try to get the financing to work. This is backwards. Call me to get your financing approved first." - Liam Bray
West Town Savings Bank
Liam Bray
Frederico Calderon “In Las Vegas NV (as in many other metropolitan areas) we can expect prices to continue to increase at the rate of 13%. Therefore, buying at the current low home prices is a smart move for anyone's financial future. Lending should be easy compared to finding homes in a low inventory market, and this is the reason you should seek a top producing real estate agent that knows the ins and outs of the business. Don’t even try to work with an average or mediocre agent, as you will not accomplish your goals. Teamwork and communication are essentials between the homebuyer, the real estate agent, and the loan officer for a successful transaction.” - Frederico Calderon
Security National Mortgage Corp.
Shivani Dhingra "My advice to homebuyers is to assemble the right team of people to help you. Who you choose to pre-approve you and who you choose as your realtor can make or break the whole process – buying a home can be the most exciting step of your life, or the most terrible experience you’ve ever been through. It all comes down to who is on your side. Choose a realtor who understands this market, because this market is unique. Choose a mortgage consultant who takes the time to make sure you are comfortable with every aspect of your loan. As Dave Ramsey says, look for someone with the heart of teacher, not the heart of a salesman. You don’t need to be an expert on today’s market; you just need to find some experts to guide you." - Shivani Dhingra
Dean Gilbert “My best piece of advice is to put your highest and best offer in ASAP on a property. Here in the Northeast, there is a major housing inventory shortage. When a good property comes on the market, it’s often sold within days above the original asking price. Buyers need to realize that the great deals are few and far between. If they like a house and want to buy it, they better come in with a solid offer. Don’t wait for someone else to beat you to the punch.” - Dean Gilbert
Mortgage Network, Inc.,
Brian Grubbs “Today's market brings new QM (Qualified Mortgage) Rules. Beginning January 2014, lenders now have to prove that a customer has the ability to re-pay their loan. What buyers need to be aware of is that most lenders are going to be a little tighter on your maximum sales price. Just know your budget before you go shopping and stay within your maximum sales price.” - Brian Grubbs
Raleigh Mortgage Group, Inc.
Brian Grubbs
James Hedges “Bring your favorite pen to closing! You will be signing many documents, and nothing is worse than using the cheap ballpoint pen the attorney will provide!” - James Hedges
Prime Lending
James Hedges
Jean Hedges “Work with a lender who will analyze your credit early in the process to insure you are eligible get the most loan options and lowest rates by the time you are ready to purchase.” - Jean Hedges
Prime Lending
Andy Holloman "If you are self-employed, the first quarter of the year can be a great time to buy. Why? Tax planning. The income used to qualify will be the bottom line income from your two most recent years' tax returns. Did you have a great year in 2013? Or, were 2011 and 2012 much better than 2013? If your income averaged over 2011 and 2012 is better than the average of 2012 and 2013, then get moving and close before May. Mortgage underwriters average your two most recent years income!" - Andy Holloman
Mr. Mortgage
Terry Lemay "Work within your budget and get educated about the mortgage process. The days of easy fast loans are gone. Understand that the regulations have gotten a lot stricter - the bank will ask for everything you can think of, and even some things you haven’t. Stay calm and you will get through it." - Terry Lemay
Northeast Bank
Rick Lewellyn "Homebuyers for today's market should be looking for the value home purchase. Mortgage Rates should stay low for the year, and with the economy stabilizing more homeowners will decide to sell. This will provide some outstanding home buys for the new home shopper." - Rick Lewellyn
Union Home Mortgage
Trey Linder “Never close any line of credit before talking with a loan officer or credit advisor. Paying off old debts can shorten vital credit history and lower your score significantly.” - Trey Linder
Movement Mortgage
Whitney Long “Work with a mortgage broker who completes an in depth pre-approval. A pre-approval from me includes reviewing credit history, 2-year employment history, tax returns OR W-2/paychecks and a recent bank statement. Many lenders often pull your credit and send you on your way. This is a disservice to you as your application has not been thoroughly reviewed for qualification.” - Whitney Long
Carolina Ventures Mortgage
Whitney Long
Natasha Lovas “Keep every piece of paper relating to your finances from now until you close escrow – every pay stub, bank statement and retirement statement, as well as copies of any checks you deposit that are not payroll checks. Lenders have really tightened up on paperwork requirements, and if you want to close on time, you will need to have everything handy.” - Natasha Lovas
Guarantee Mortgage Corporation
Brian Manning "There will be a tremendous amount of US and global economic changes during the upcoming year and all of which will have an impact on mortgage rates. Make sure that you work with a loan officer that has their finger on the pulse of economic data, the current trend of mortgage rates, and why rates are moving either up or down. Rates change every day and sometimes multiple times in a day. Having an loan officer that is knowledgeable as to why markets are moving will help a borrower obtain the lowest rate available." - Brian Manning
Manning Mortgage Group
Michael Murgatroy “I would recommend to buyers to expect back to the basics for mortgages in today's market. My acronym CIA is most important. With credit, income, and assets I can tell clients their options with 5 minutes if they give correct verbal information.” - Michael Murgatroy
Guaranteed Rate
Mike Murgatroy
Nate Smith "I think it is very important for a customer to know their budget for a monthly payment. Many times we have clients come to us and say, “you tell me what I can afford”. While this is just fine, and we are happy to give an opinion, a client who knows their personal thresholds are going to make much better decisions as well as avoid getting caught up “in the moment” of shopping for a house. Clients who do this tend to take the emotion out of the transaction, making much better business decisions, leading to a better quality of life down the road. If the client does not have a budget, it may be a good idea to sit with them and do a budget with them. Folks are surprised at where their hard earned dollars are actually going when you break it down. " - Nate Smith
Movement Mortgage
Nate Smith
Mike Startare “Document, document, document. If you can’t prove it, we can’t use it.” - Mike Startare
Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group
Andrew Thacker “As a younger loan officer, the majority of my business is working with first time homebuyers. I always advise young buyers to not work with anyone they can’t get in front of. Offer to come into the lenders office or meet for coffee. If they are not willing to take the time to meet with you then it is an indication of their attention you will receive during your purchase.” - Andrew Thacker
TowneBank Mortgage
Tom Tousignant “If you are buying a house in the upcoming year, that will be your biggest and most important financial move of the year – so do it first. Before you change jobs, buy a car, open a new credit card. Lock down your home purchase, and then do the less important things.” - Tom Tousignant
Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation
Angie Turley "I would say the biggest thing homebuyers need to be aware of is their credit scores and what is on their credit report. What they find on-line is not always necessarily what we see on our end on a credit report. The scores they see on-line are usually not what we see on our end either. It doesn't cost anything to have a lender pull their credit report and get them a copy, so why not? Even if you think you have bad credit, at least you can get a copy and have the loan officer show you what you need to get fixed. A good loan officer will stick with you through your "credit repair" process, and they can give you the tools to fix your credit yourself without having to pay anyone to do "credit repair" for you. - Angie Turley

Nevin Williams “Debt-versus-income requirements are more stringent than ever. If you're a wage earner be sure to work full hours and avoid unpaid time off. Although you will have a higher tax liability, if self employed, avoid business expenses that can be delayed to another year to help boost your taxable income. Lenders will generally only use income you've made after deducting from it any expenses. So while you're basking in tax savings those savings could be your demise and end up costing you the ability to qualify for a home.” - Nevin Williams
Sierra Pacific Mortgage

Thanks so much to the loan officers who contributed. Getting a home loan can often be as difficult as finding your dream home, and I hope this information will help homebuyers as they start the process. It's no surprise to me that there were more comments regarding documentation and lender scrutiny than anything else, as lending guidelines have changed quite a bit over the last few years. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.

Ryan Cassidy

Realtor covering the Triangle - Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill