Mortgage lenders tend to require full documentation. It is not uncommon for mortgage loan application files to exceed 100 pages by the time all requested documents have been received.
With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to the types of documents you may need to produce when applying for a home loan. Note that this is not an exhaustive list and that not all items will apply to every borrower.
What documents are needed for a mortgage application?
Before you start shopping for a new home, it’s a good idea to get mortgage pre-approved. Getting pre-approved lets you know how much mortgage you can get. It also lets sellers know that you are a serious buyer.
A pre-approval involves going through the parts of the mortgage approval process that examine your personal qualifications. For example, the lender will verify your employment and income.
1. Income documents
Lenders want to know how much mortgage you can afford. To calculate this, they look at what’s called your debt-to-income ratio (DTI ratio). Your DTI ratio simply compares your current debt with your current income.
For this, your lender will need to see your income documentation.
Income tax returns
For starters, most mortgage lenders want to see your tax returns for the past two years. If you haven’t yet filed a tax return for the most recent calendar year, your lender may ask you to do so before you apply. And if you live in a state with income tax, the lender will likely want to see your federal and state returns.
W-2 or 1099
If you are a employee, your lender will want to see your two most recent W-2 forms.
If you are self employed, the lender will need your two most recent 1099s and may also request additional income documents.
Note: The general mortgage documentation requirements are more extensive for self-employed applicants. Get more details in our step-by-step guide to getting a mortgage while being self-employed.
Employees should be prepared to submit (at a minimum) their two most recent pay stubs. This can be a particularly important document if your income has changed significantly since submitting your last tax return.
Other proof of income
If you have income from other sources that you would like the lender to consider, such as rental income or Social Security income, be prepared to show documents (in addition to your tax return) that verify it.
Lenders also want to know your current assets: their value, where they are, where they came from, etc. Here are some of the documents that may be requested from you.
Lenders will typically ask for two months of statements for any checking or savings account you have. Be prepared to write short letters of explanation for any unusual deposits, bad checks, or anything other than standard transactions.
When I applied for my first mortgage, I was renting a condo with a roommate. My roommate gave me money to cover his share of the rent each month. My lender has asked me (and my roommate) to sign a statement confirming the source of these recurring $ 700 cash deposits.
Investment account statements
As with your bank accounts, you will need to produce two-month statements for each investment or brokerage account you have, including retirement accounts. If you only receive quarterly statements for some accounts, your most recent statement should suffice.
Lenders have very specific rules about where the funds come from for your down payment and closing costs. Most lenders allow down payment donations, but do not allow you to borrow money from a relative or friend.
So if you receive part of your down payment from someone else, they will need to sign a letter confirming that the funds are indeed a gift with no pending refund.
If you have other assets that might help you qualify for the mortgage or plan to use it for down payment, be prepared to document them along with their current market value.
For example, if you own a rental property, showing proof of ownership and a recent appraisal might be sufficient.
3. History of mortgage or rent payments
Of course, your lender wants proof that you’ll be making your monthly mortgage payments on time. To verify this, they may ask you questions about your current mortgage (or request your landlord’s information, if you are a tenant).
Current mortgage statement
If you are a homeowner and currently have a mortgage balance, you will likely need to submit your most recent statement showing how much you still owe on the house. This is especially true if you wish to have the option of closing your new home. before you sell the old one.
If you are a current tenant, you will need to provide your landlord’s contact information, as well as documents (such as canceled checks) showing that you have paid the rent.
Finally, your lender will need to verify your identity and perform a credit check. Among other things, the credit check will play a role in determining your mortgage interest rate. There are several types of documents that you may need to bring to your lender for this step.
Social security card
In order to perform a credit check, the lender will need your social security number. Every lender I have dealt with has requested a copy of my real social security card.
Government issued photo ID
Expect your lender to ask for a copy of your driver’s license or other photo ID (like a US passport) as part of the application process.
Expect additional requests before closing
As a final thought, it’s important to mention that just because your lender doesn’t ask for a certain document up front, it doesn’t mean they won’t need it at some other point in the process.
For example, if your lender reviews your bank statements and finds an unexplained cash deposit, you may need to submit a letter explaining the details. And there are some documents you will likely need as your closing date approaches, such as documenting a property insurance policy.
The bottom line is that there is a parcel documentation your mortgage lender might ask for, both before you apply and while you wait for closing. By preparing your documentation in advance, you can ensure that the process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible.