Applying for a mortgage loan is a complex process. It's normal for lenders to request several documents to confirm who you are and verify that you'll be able to make the monthly payments.
Being prepared with all your documents prevents delays and keeps the mortgage process moving ahead. Some lenders may request additional documents, particularly if there's anything unusual about your finances. Having the most common pieces of information organized and ready will save you a lot of time and stress.
- Mortgage lenders request documentation to qualify you for a mortgage based on rules set by the CFPB and other government entities.
- You'll generally need to provide proof of your identity, income, assets, and debt payments.
- More complicated or unusual financial scenarios may require additional documentation.
- You may have to provide updated copies of some documents prior to loan closing.
Mortgage Loan Application Checklist
Mortgage lenders request so much documentation to ensure loaning you money isn't too risky. If the lender fails to properly qualify you for the mortgage loan and you end up defaulting, the lender may not receive any assistance from government-sponsored agencies.
As you go into the home buying process, be prepared to provide the following documents:
- Current driver's license or state-issued identification card
- Social security number
- Proof of employment for the past two years: W-2s, pay stubs, signed federal tax return
- Proof of income outside of employment, for example, canceled checks from child support or alimony, copy of lease showing rental income, or other proof
- Source of down payment, such as a list of checking and savings accounts, two recent bank statements, gift letter, or evidence of transfer
- List of current debts
- Proof of rent or mortgage payments for the past 12 months
- Proof of child support payments
Proof of Income and Employment
Lenders are required to verify your identity and social security number before loaning money to you. Then, lenders will confirm that you have consistent, reliable income through a job or another source to afford monthly mortgage payments.
Be prepared to provide original pay stubs for the last 30 days showing that you're currently employed and your current income. Your pay stubs should include your employer's name and contact information. Lenders will also request the originals of the last two years of W-2 forms and signed federal tax returns, including any applicable schedules.
You may have to provide a written explanation of any employment gaps over 30 days, for instance, if you've had more than one employer in the past two years.
Proof of Other Income Sources
You can use other sources of income in your mortgage application, but you'll have to provide proof that you'll continue to receive this income in the future. Child support and alimony are common sources of non-employment income. A copy of your divorce decree and bank statements showing deposits will confirm any child support or alimony you're receiving.
As a self-employed homebuyer, you'll need to show that your income has been either stable or increasing over the past two years in the same industry. Lenders will commonly request:
- Two years of personal tax returns
- Two years of business tax returns, including schedules K-1, 1120, and 1120S
- Year-to-date profit and loss statement
- Balance sheet
To prove that you've been consistently self-employed for at least two years, you can provide:
- Letters from current clients
- Signed CPA statement
- Business license
- Proof of business insurance
The specific requirements for self-employment income can vary from one lender to the next. Verifying with your lender is the best step to ensure you have all the documents you need.
You can also provide a W-2 from your previous employer if you haven't been self-employed for two full years.
Assets and Debts
Outstanding debt affects your ability to qualify for a mortgage and the pricing you receive. Lenders will use your credit report to gather information about your debts, including credit cards and installment loans. Be prepared to provide recent account statements or proof of payment to supplement your credit report information.
You'll have to show six months of canceled checks or bank statements showing regular rent payments, provide verification from your landlord, or a copy of a lease agreement and two months of canceled checks.
Lenders have a few ways to calculate your student loan payments. First, they can use the student loan payment listed on your credit report or your most recent student loan statement. If your credit report shows a $0 or no monthly payment and you're on an income-based repayment plan, the lender can use $0 for the monthly payments as long as they can verify that's your true monthly payment.
For loans in deferment or forbearance, the lender can use 1% of your outstanding balance as the payment amount, or they can opt to estimate your monthly payment based on the repayment terms in your loan documents.
Credit Cards and Lines of Credit
Your minimum monthly payment or 5% of the outstanding balance. If you're an authorized user on an account and you're not responsible for the balance, you'll need to provide documentation.
Charge cards aren't included in your debt-to-income ratio since they must be repaid in full each month.
Paying Down Debts
You may be tempted to pay off some debt to improve your debt-to-income ratio, but talk to your mortgage lender first. Large debt payments can affect the amount you have available for a down payment or what you'll have left in reserves after paying down debt. Not only that, paying off some old debts can cause your credit score to fall and derail the underwriting process.
Account Statements for Deposit and Investment Accounts
Certain assets, like bank and retirement accounts, can be used to qualify for a mortgage if you own and have access to the funds. You'll generally have to provide two months of account statements for assets you're using to qualify for the mortgage. If you've recently made large deposits into your bank account, the lender will ask for additional documents verifying the source of the deposits.
If you don't receive a statement for securities—like stocks and bonds—you can provide other evidence that you own the security and verify the current value.
Lenders will check your credit report and credit score—and that of any co-borrowers—to determine whether you qualify for the mortgage and set your interest rate and fees. Checking your credit report and score ahead of your application gives you a chance to see where you stand. Depending on your credit report information, you may need to pay down debts or dispute errors.
Starting at least three months before you apply for the mortgage, avoid significant changes to your credit information. This includes applying for new accounts, making late payments, charging high balances, or even paying off a large amount of debt. Continue to avoid using your credit until after closing. Any changes to your credit information during underwriting can impact your mortgage terms and could even cause your financing to fall through.
If a friend or family member is helping you with your down payment, you'll need a letter from them stating that the money is a gift and not a loan. The letter should state their relationship to you and include their mailing address or phone number. If the funds were a wedding gift, you'll need a copy of your marriage license or certificate.
To qualify using funds from a trust, you must be the beneficiary of the trust and have access to the funds on the closing date. You'll need to provide a copy of the trust agreement showing that you're the beneficiary, that you have access to the funds, and that the trust has enough assets to disburse the funds you need.
Certain types of mortgages require you to complete housing counseling or homebuyer education to qualify. Or, if you're a veteran or service member applying for a VA Home Loan, you'll need a certificate of eligibility.
The Bottom Line
Make sure you provide all the pages of documents, even if they're blank. Missing information could affect the loan amount you're approved for or cause delays in the underwriting process. If you're printing documents from the internet, make sure the full URL is at the bottom of the page.
Gathering all these documents can be a tedious process, but taking the time to pull together the documents upfront will make the mortgage process much smoother. Keep notes about how you obtained each document—you may have to provide updated documents before the loan process is complete.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What documents do you need to buy a house with cash?
What do lenders look at if you are self-employed while buying a house?
If you're self-employed, you'll need to provide proof of your income, including a signed, completed federal tax returns for the past two years, an updated profit-and-loss statement for the current year, and a current business balance sheet.