Buying a home is a monumental decision for all, but it isn’t without certain hang-ups and surprises. Voluminous contracts and paperwork can slow the process greatly, while certain details may arise that catch the buyer, seller, and brokers off guard — and in some cases, can derail the process altogether.
Thankfully, the First Mid Certified Homebuyer Program can help simplify the process. We spoke to Michael Love, Assistant Vice President and Mortgage Lender, about this program and how it can help homebuyers complete their purchase and start a new chapter in their lives even sooner.
What does it mean to be a Certified Homebuyer and what are the advantages to being certified?
The First Mid Certified Homebuyer Program puts a potential buyer steps closer to their new home. The program gives our borrowers a head start on securing funding, as an underwriter has already reviewed documentation provided and ensured the borrower is qualified for the loan product and amount requested.
The program is a win-win for both the borrower and seller. Being certified could potentially keep buyers from spending money on a home inspection or appraisal, only to find out later they may not qualify for the requested financing. Being certified also provides a competitive advantage over other potential buyers in a multiple-offer situation, as it gives the seller peace of mind knowing the certified buyer is already qualified to purchase their home. This can speed the purchasing process along for everyone.
How does the First Mid Certified Homebuyer program compare to similar programs from other banks or mortgage companies?
Many individuals don’t realize there is a difference between prequalified and pre-approved. Prequalified is when an application is completed and run through an automated system for eligibility — this is normal protocol with several lenders. With the Certified Homebuyer Program, we take the time to collect the necessary documentation from the borrower, which is reviewed by our underwriters upfront instead of at the time of contract. The borrower is truly pre-approved and ready to buy!
How long does the approval process take?
As soon as we have the requested documentation from the borrower, the file is submitted to underwriting. If everything is done in a timely manner, it could be as little as two business days. Typically, the documentation needed for a mortgage loan pre-approval includes the borrower’s income information, such as payroll statements and W2s, plus the individual’s list of assets. The type of documentation required can vary since each borrower’s situation varies. This process takes care of all the surprises that could arise.
When should I become a Certified Homebuyer?
Even if you are remotely considering purchasing a home, the time is now. Unfortunately, there have been instances where a borrower has fallen in love with a home before becoming a Certified Homebuyer only to find out there are credit issues, or the amount requested for financing is higher than what we can approve. Again, our process should eliminate the surprises that typically arise!
Will being a Certified Homebuyer make my loan application process easier or faster?
The simple answer is yes and yes! When you are a Certified Homebuyer, issues that could arise for the borrower are cleared up before we are under contract. Simply put, there should be no last-minute surprises on the borrower’s side. All that should be needed after the borrower goes under contract would be inspections, title work, and appraisal. The Certified Homebuyer program typically speeds up the entire process, possibly allowing for a quicker closing date.
Can a first-time homebuyer become a Certified Homebuyer?
Most definitely! This is typically a huge benefit to a first-time homebuyer as opposed to an individual who has been through the homebuying process before and has an idea of what to expect. Typically, first-time homebuyers are unaware of the guidelines that need to be followed as far as personal information details that are required, such as credit score and debt-to-income ratio. The Certified Homebuyer program gives them a clear and precise picture of what they can afford and what is needed to complete the loan.
On top of that, it gives us the opportunity to verify income and see if we can secure a down payment grant, such as the Downpayment Plus® program. This program provides up to $10,000 to eligible homebuyers to use toward down payment and closing costs, letting the borrower know approximately the amount they will need out of pocket for closing.
NOTE: Downpayment Plus® is a program from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago. Restrictions apply. Visit the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago’s website for complete requirements. Downpayment Plus® is a registered trademark of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago.
Who should I contact for questions about the Certified Homebuyer program?
Any First Mid mortgage lender can help a potential borrower get started. To connect with a First Mid lender in your area, you can complete our brief Mortgage Lender Contact Form.
You can also contact Michael Love, AVP, Mortgage Lender, through phone at 573-644-7151 or email at email@example.com.