How to Get Preapproved for a Mortgage: A Step-by-Step Guide for Homebuyers

Ready to get serious about buying a home? Get preapproved for a mortgage.

In a nutshell, a mortgage preapproval letter is a written statement from a lender affirming that you’ve qualified for a home loan and specifying how much money the lender will allow you to borrow. Historically, sellers have preferred offers that include such a letter, but many have begun requiring that buyers get preapproved before even taking a tour.

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Jumbo Mortgages Are in High Demand but Harder to Get Than Ever

Mortgage lenders began to tighten their purse strings when the coronavirus crisis hit the U.S. earlier this year, raising requirements for all borrowers and for those taking out large home loans in particular.

Mortgages that are too large to be purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the government sponsored enterprises that buy home loans, are known as jumbo loans. Across most of the country, a mortgage larger than $510,400 is considered non-conforming and fits in the jumbo bucket, though in some expensive markets the jumbo loan limits is as high as $765,600.

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House Hunters Now Need Pre-Approval Letters to Walk in the Door. What the Trend Means for Buyers, Sellers and Agents

Home buyers eager to take advantage of low interest rates are rushing to schedule home tours, just recently allowed in some places as stay-at-home restrictions are eased. To curtail potential exposure to the coronavirus, however, many sellers are trying to limit the number of people traipsing through their properties. To achieve this, real estate agents are suggesting that sellers only admit buyers who have been pre-approved for a mortgage.

A pre-approval letter is a written offer from a lender stating that a potential buyer has been tentatively approved for a mortgage and how much they would be permitted to borrow.

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With Mortgage Rates So Low, Getting a Floating Rate Mortgage Might Seem Crazy. Here’s Why I Did It Anyway

My mortgage payments are by far my largest monthly expense, so when I recently got the chance to cut them, I cut them as deeply as I could — even though it meant doing something I never thought I’d do: Forgoing the security of a fixed-rate mortgage for an adjustable one.

An ARM, also known as a “variable-rate mortgage,” offers a low introductory interest rate—typically for three, five, seven or 10 years—and when that period ends the rate turns into a floating rate for the remainder of the loan. Once rates adjust, mortgage payments for an ARM can double or even triple. With today’s mortgage rates at or near record lows, future rates may have only one way to go: up.

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Booking a Vacation Rental Is Complicated This Summer. Here’s How to Stay Safe and Get a Good Deal

Usually summer is the busiest time of the year for Tiare Cowan, a longtime Airbnb host in St. Augustine, Fla. But after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic in mid-March, Cowan, who rents out two units of her family’s beach home, saw a tidal wave of cancellations.

“We lost every single reservation through June over a three-week period,” Cowan says. “It was terrible.”

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Coronavirus ‘Contact Tracer’ is One of the Most In-Demand Jobs Right Now. Here’s How to Get Hired

States across the country are hiring tens of thousands of contact tracers to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It’s important work: Contact tracers help infected Americans recall the names of everyone they’ve recently come into contact with, and then track those individuals down to avert the disease’s path of infection.

Emily Gurley, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist and the lead instructor of a free online course on the fundamentals of contact tracing, calls the people who fill these roles “part detective, part therapist, and part social worker.”

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A First for the Housing Market: Mortgage Rates Below 3%

It’s no secret mortgages are cheap right now. For some borrowers they’re hitting levels many experts might have thought impossible just a few months ago. Welcome to the world of the sub-3% mortgage.

The 30-year fixed-rate average sank last week to 3.15% with an average 0.8 percentage points paid, according to Freddie Mac. That’s the lowest level recorded since the mortgage giant began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. But 3.15% is just the average rate—some buyers and refinancers are qualifying for rates below 3%, something even mortgage pros are seeing for the first time.

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How to Buy a Home When You Can’t See It in Person

When you buy a house, you need to tour it. So that’s what Cat and Bobby Boucher did before making an offer on a three-bedroom townhome in Alexandria, Va., earlier this month. The only difference: The Bouchers never set a foot inside — instead, Cat toured the home through a private video showing with the seller over Facebook.

“The seller was only offering video tours, and seeing the home that way felt a little strange but it made sense considering that a lot of people are staying in their homes because of COVID,” says Cat, 30, who loved the property and its private backyard — a big upgrade from the 875-square foot one-bedroom with no yard where the couple currently lives. “I just want to be outside, especially during quarantine,” she says

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Here’s How to Buy a Home If You Can’t Save for a Down Payment

With millions of Americans facing financial burdens like student loans and high rents, saving up to make the traditional 20% down payment on a first home can be daunting. There’s good news for prospective home owners: You don’t need to do it.

Forty-six percent of millennials and 40% of Americans overall cited affording a down payment as their greatest financial barrier to home ownership, a recent COUNTRY Financial group survey found.

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5 Social Media Hacks for Better Customer Service

Anyone who has ever tried to navigatesocial-media-customer-service-rep a voicemail menu or been stranded on hold by a customer service rep knows how maddening it can be to get help over the phone. According to an American Express survey, more than half of callers say they’ve lost their temper while on the line with a representative. That may explain why more and more people are turning to social media to vent their frustrations. In a J.D. Power survey of more than 23,000 online shoppers, 67% reported having used social media to lodge a complaint.

“When you post on Facebook or Twitter, it’s essentially public shaming, which forces the company to reply,” says online consumer advocate Kim Komando. Even so, fewer than 15% of messages actually get a response. Here’s how to make sure yours is one of them.

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