The coronavirus pandemic continues to linger on, upending lives and throwing a major curveball into the home buying market.
Starting back in March, homeowners who might have plunked a “for sale” sign in their front yard decided to hold back over concerns of letting strangers into their home as the pandemic tightened its grip. Months later, home inventory remains down across the U.S., although lower mortgage rates have sparked buying opportunities across the country.
“Homebuyers are returning to the market and homeowners are refinancing into lower rates to reduce monthly expenses,” said Darrin Q. English, senior community development loan officer at Quontic, a New York City-based bank. “The pandemic has caused us all to reassess our financial fitness and make lifestyle changes, but conditions remain cautiously optimistic on a stronger real estate market.”
You may be wondering: How can I get a mortgage during the coronavirus pandemic? Multi-lender marketplace Credible can help walk you through the process. Just fill out some simple questions online and Credible can determine what rates you qualify for in minutes.
How to get a mortgage during the pandemic
As large parts of the real estate market are starting to open up, industry experts advise taking these steps to get a good deal on a new home.
- Compare mortgage rates and lenders
- Talk to a local banker
- Boost your credit utilization ratio
- Ask around
- Include Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
1. Compare mortgage rates and lenders
Francie Malina, a real estate broker in Westchester County, N.Y. tells her clients to “shop the rate.”
“All mortgage rates are not equal and it’s important to call a few lenders from big banks, regional banks and reach out to a mortgage broker to work on your behalf,” she said. “Sometimes, a rate can be ideal, but the fees may be astronomical. It’s good to have a broker who can walk you through an often daunting process.”
The very first place to start when contemplating a home purchase is to explore mortgage loans via an online aggregator such as Credible to compare rates and lenders.
2. Talk to a local banker
“I personally work with a local bank for all my properties and recommend potential homebuyers do the same or reach out to a credit union,” said Jonathan Sanchez, a real estate investor and personal finance blogger at ParentPortfolio.com. “Having a great relationship with a local banker is invaluable and can have more leverage than the big name banks.”
3. Boost your credit utilization ratio
Paying off debt can improve a person's credit score, but having a low credit utilization ratio can pay off big when buying a home. That’s because both home sellers and mortgage lenders want to do business with buyers who have great credit scores. “The credit utilization ratio is the current credit used divided by credit limit,” Sanchez said. “For example, a credit card with an outstanding balance of $2,000 and a credit limit of $6,000 has a credit utilization ratio of 50%. However, another credit card with an outstanding balance of $3,000 and a credit limit of $15,000 has a ratio of 20%.”
“In that scenario, the credit card with the credit utilization ratio of 50% should be paid down to at least meet the ratio of the other credit card,” he advised.
4. Ask around
Check with your current financial institution, and ask your real estate agent if they’re aware of good home deals.
“Chances are they’ll have a few go-to names to pass on to you,” Malina said. “Employers, banks, law firms are also great resources for homebuyers. Also, ask your potential neighbors if they’ve heard of any good home deals or have good home-buying suggestions.”
With Credible, you can also compare multiple mortgage lenders at once and see what kind of rates you qualify for within just minutes. Plus, it doesn't impact your credit score.
5. Include Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
“It’s extremely important to choose a knowledgeable lender which has access to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored enterprises which are the largest players in the mortgage market,” said Matt Hackett, mortgage expert at Equity Now, a direct mortgage lending platform based in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
“The ability to sell to both Freddie and Fannie offers more ways to qualify borrowers, increasing the number of homebuyers who will qualify,” Hackett said. “It also offers an increased chance of getting an appraisal waiver, which allows a loan to close without physical inspection and valuation of the property.”
Additionally, leverage online mortgage platforms like Credible to find the best mortgage deals in minutes. Loan buyers can also use Credible to talk with an experienced mortgage broker and get expert advice on landing a great mortgage.