Clearwater Mortgage Blog

5 Common Mortgage Terms For Home Buyers To Know

June 13th, 2019 3:04 PM by Carol Youmans

When you start considering purchasing a new home, besides looking at houses and possibly condominiums, you'll also be running into mortgage terminology you may not be familiar with. Because of that, we've put together this list of the most common terms our borrowers ask us about. Knowing what these terms mean will make your mortgage loan process much smoother and easier to understand. 

#1 Loan to Value

When you meet with your mortgage broker, one of the first things they will talk about is "Loan to Value" (sometimes called LTV). This is a ratio that shows how much loan you're taking out vs. the value of the home. Here's the equation: Loan divided by Value (Loan/Value).

Here's are a few examples:

You're purchasing your first home and have saved up $10,000 for a down payment. You find a home that costs $250,000. Your loan to value would be 96%.

  • $10,000 (down payment)
  • $240,000 (loan amount)
  • $250,000 (home value)

Here's another example: 

You just sold your condominium and have $80,000 for a down payment on your next house. You go shopping and find your dream home with a price tag of $400,000. Your loan to value would be 80%.

  • $80,000 (down payment)
  • $320,000 (loan amount)
  • $400,000 (home value)


Each loan program has its own rules on what the LTV can be. FHA offers a loan that borrowers only need 3.5% down, so don't think you need thousands of dollars to get a home loan. The more money a borrower puts down, the less of a risk the lender has, which could reflect in a lower interest rate.


#2 Pre-Qualification Letter

Pre-Qualification – before you start to shop for a home, you'll want to get a "pre-qualification" letter from your lender. To do this, your loan officer will need to take a full application, which includes asking about your income, assets, and debts. You'll also need to provide some documentation like:

  • Paystubs
  • Taxes
  • Bank statements

 The faster you get this data to them, the faster you'll get your pre-qual letter. Once you have that letter in hand, then it's time to go shopping with your realtor and find a house!


#3 Underwriter

Each lender has an underwriting department with underwriters who review a borrower's application to see if they meet the specific guidelines of the mortgage they are applying for.

 The main three things they look at are called the 3-Cs.

  • 1) Credit
  • 2) Capacity (ability to repay)
  • 3) Collateral (amount of down payment)


Here's how the loan process works:  

  1. Your loan officer takes your application and gets documentation from you.
  2. If everything looks good, you received your pre-qualification letter.
  3. House shopping begins!
  4. You find a home you like and put in an offer.
  5. Your offer is accepted.
  6. Your loan officer submits all of your data along with the property information to the lender.
  7. The underwriter will review your file and give you an initial pre-approval and or ask for more information and documentation.


More Paperwork

In most cases, the underwriter will ask for more information and additional documentation. Be ready and willing to provide this quickly. That will make your loan move much faster.


#4 Pre-Approval  

The pre-approval is different from the "pre-qualification" letter. A pre-approval is from the underwriter saying that your loan file looks good, and you are pre-approved.

Once in a while, a borrower will be "pre-approved," but then there's something wrong with the property that makes the lender not want to lend on it. For example, if the roof is in bad shape and needs to be replaced or if there's extensive dry rot. In those cases, the property isn't acceptable, but you, as the borrower is still pre-approved. If a problem like that comes up with a house, it just means you have to go shopping again.


#5 Debt-To-Income

Debt to Income sometimes called DTI. This ratio compares your monthly expenses (housing, credit cards, car payments) to your pre-tax income. The higher your income is and lower your debt, the better. Here's an example:

  • $1,000 (monthly debts)
  • $4,000 (pre-tax monthly income)

In the above case, your debt to income ratio is 25%, which is good.

This ratio is an important one and is one of the primary ways lenders and underwriters determine the amount of a home loan you can afford. 

Generally, you want to keep this ratio at 43% or lower to be approved. When you understand this critical ratio, you'll know why it's smart to stay within your budget when shopping for a house. You don't want to be shopping for something more expensive than you can afford and be disappointed when you can't get a loan.

When you're ready to start shopping or just want to see what you could be qualified for - give Clearwater Mortgage a call at 727-259-2900

Posted in:Purchasing
Posted by Carol Youmans on June 13th, 2019 3:04 PM