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Financial Basics for Home Lending
Get to know a few key elements involved in buying a home, or refinancing.
Buying a home is likely one of the biggest purchases of your life, and as expected, there are many factors involved in the process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the basics of what’s involved:
Credit Score Basics
Your score could have a big impact on your financial future.
When you buy or refinance, your credit score is one of the first things a lender looks at. It helps them determine if you qualify for a loan, and what interest rate they can offer you.
Your credit score reflects how reliable you are as a borrower, and is determined by your track record of borrowing and repaying banks, credit card companies and other lenders. Factors include:
- Length of Credit History – The longer you’ve been borrowing, the better.
- Amounts Owed – Having too much outstanding debt could adversely impact your score.
- Payment History – Lenders want to see that you pay regularly and pay on time. Even one missed or late payment could affect your score.
- New Credit – If you’ve recently opened new credit card accounts, lines or loans, it may have a negative effect on your credit score.
- Types of Credit Used – Lenders want to know what kind of credit you’re already using—standard credit cards, store credit cards, student and car loans, etc.
Keep track of your score.
To get a handle on your credit history and score, you can order one free credit report per year from annualcreditreport.com, and buy a copy of your FICO score from MyFICO.com. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, and anything above 680 is considered good. Excellent scores, usually above 740, can help qualify you to get the best rates.
Find areas of improvement.
If your credit score isn’t what you’d like it to be, there are ways to improve it. Look at the itemized report that comes with your credit score and if there are any negatives, start correcting them as soon as possible.
- If there are any misreported items in your report, gather supporting documents and dispute them.
- Contact creditors and negotiate payment plans for any past due accounts.
- Pay down balances when possible and avoid new charges
- Pay all of your bills on time. Pay at least the monthly minimum, because a late payment for a credit card or bill gets reported to credit agencies.
- Carefully balance your checking account to avoid bouncing checks.
The bottom line.
You should do what you can to improve your credit score before you apply for a mortgage or refinance. Even a small increase in FICO score could translate into a lower rate and big savings over the life of your loan.
Discuss your preferences, learn more about your loan options, and see if you are pre-qualified.
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Want a more complete picture of your home loan?
Explore the Understanding Home Lending Center to learn the mortgage process, find the right loan or line of credit for you, and explore options to lower your payments.
Getting a lower mortgage rate could save you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.
When you begin considering a home purchase or refinance, start keeping an eye on rates. They tend to fluctuate based on federal interest rates, bond prices, and what’s going on in the housing market.
Different loan types and terms have different rates, so be sure to investigate all your options. Shorter loan terms typically mean lower rates. And you may be able to pay points in order to get a lower interest rate.
If you’re considering a purchase or a refinance, make sure you’re in a financial position to get the best possible rate. Lenders look at your risk profile to determine the exact refinancing rate they will offer you, and it takes an excellent score—usually 740 and above—to get the best possible rate. However, we have many rate options appropriate for those with scores starting at 620.
To learn more about the options and find out what rates you may qualify for, contact a PNC Mortgage loan officer.
Your Annual Escrow Statement
An Escrow Account on your loan allows PNC Mortgage to make payments for certain bills related to your property, such as estate property taxes, homeowners insurance and mortgage insurance. Home buyers are generally required to have an escrow account until a certain loan to value ratio is met.
Every year you’ll receive an Annual Escrow Account Disclosure Statement that details the activity in the account for the year, as well as a projection for the next year’s payments:
To get your initial monthly payment, estimates of your tax and insurance bills are totaled and divided by 12. In following years, the previous year’s payments are totaled and divided by 12 to calculate your new monthly escrow payment amount for the next year.
Shortage & Surplus
If this figure is higher than last year’s monthly payment amount, your escrow account will have a shortage. If this year’s monthly payment amount is lower than last year’s, your account will have a surplus.
Shortages and surpluses may also be caused by increases or decreases in property taxes and or homeowner’s insurance. If this is the case, please contact your local tax office or your insurance agent for further assistance.
In the case of a shortage, the difference between your previous and current monthly payments will be divided by 12 and added to your monthly balance. You can also choose to pay the shortage up front in a lump sum. To do this, use the shortage payment coupon attached to your Escrow Analysis Statement.
In the case of a surplus, the difference between your previous and current monthly payments will be returned to you. If the surplus amount is $50 or more, a check for the balance will be attached to your Escrow Analysis Statement. If the surplus amount is less than $50, the value will be deducted from your monthly payments.
Reading Your Annual Statement
Your annual Escrow Analysis Statement contains all the information you need to understand your previous and projected mortgage payments. We break your Statement into three sections to make it easy to keep up with your mortgage.
Having the flexibility to make your monthly payments on your terms is important. That’s why we offer a variety of payment options to consider. It’s easy to get started- check out our Payment Options page.
Important Legal Disclosures & Information
PNC, PNC HomeHQ, PNC Home Insight, and Home Insight are registered service marks of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. ("PNC"). PNC has pending patent applications directed at various features and functions of Home Insight Planner. All loans are provided by PNC Bank, National Association, a subsidiary of PNC, and are subject to credit approval and property appraisal.
The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. All rights reserved. PNC Bank, National Association. Member FDIC
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