10 questions to ask mortgage lenders

1

How much can I borrow to buy a home?

When determining how much you can borrow, lenders may consider your income level compared with debt, your employment status and your credit history. Talk to a lender about getting prequalified for a mortgage before you start shopping for your new home.1 This can make the whole experience go more smoothly.

Military veterans and first-time homebuyers may be eligible for special government-sponsored mortgage programs. Ask your lender what you might qualify for.

2

How much money do I need to put down?

To get the best rate and terms for your loan, try to put down at least 20 percent of the purchase price. Although a lower down payment won’t necessarily disqualify you, there is a chance that a monthly private mortgage insurance (PMI) payment will be added if your down payment is lower than 20 percent. Your down payment will affect other variables as well, such as your interest rate, terms and monthly payments. Ask your lender for more information about the minimum down payment required for your loan and if you might be eligible for any down payment or cost-saving assistance programs, and decide what’s right for you. The Affordable Loan Solution® mortgage from Bank of America can help eligible borrowers with modest incomes secure a home loan with a down payment as low as 3 percent and no PMI required.2

3

What’s the interest rate?

Right off the bat, you should ask your lender for a direct interest rate quote, as well as the corresponding annual percentage rate (APR) for the loan. Since the APR accounts for fees and other loan-related charges, it gives you an apples-to-apples comparison among lenders. Don’t be afraid to shop around until you find one you’re comfortable with.

4

What’s the difference between a fixed-rate and an adjustable-rate mortgage?

A fixed-rate mortgage keeps the same interest rate for the life of the loan, typically a 15- or 30-year term. This keeps your monthly payment for principal and interest steady and predictable over time. Adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, have interest rates that change based on the market, so your payment will go up and down. Most ARMs are based on a 30-year term and typically start with an initial fixed interest rate for a specific period of time, usually 5, 7 or 10 years. It’s important to compare these two types of mortgages to find what’s best for your situation.

5

How many points does the rate include?

A point is a fee paid to the lender at closing in exchange for a reduced interest rate. (1 point = 1% of your total mortgage amount.) Be sure to ask your lender how many points are included in the quoted interest rate and what the benefits might be to buying more or fewer points.

6

When can I lock in the interest rate?

Interest rates always fluctuate. Sometimes, locking in a low rate can really pay off. Ask your lender when you can lock down a particular rate, and for how long. Keep in mind, lenders will usually offer lower interest rates for shorter-term locks and higher interest rates for longer-term locks.

7

What are my estimated closing costs?

Remember to factor in the various fees associated with buying a home—particularly closing costs. Closing costs include loan-origination fees, appraisal fees and attorney fees (if any), to name a few. Your lender should provide you with a Loan Estimate form showing the approximate costs of your loan so you can budget accordingly.

8

Are there any other costs or fees I should know about?

The more information you can collect up front, the more prepared you’ll be should you run into any unexpected expenses along the way. To help you understand the various fees you’ll need to cover, your lender should give you a Closing Disclosure form detailing all the costs associated with your loan. It’s a good idea to compare the Closing Disclosure to the Loan Estimate.

9

Can you estimate when the closing will be?

A lot of factors help determine when your exact closing date will be—many of which are completely out of your control. Ask your lender for an estimate of when you might expect to close. That way you’ll at least have a rough idea of the timetable you’re working with.

10

Is there anything that could delay my closing?

Yes, buying a home is a complex process with many stages and requirements. While delays are normal, the best way to avoid them is to stay in touch with your lender and provide the most up-to-date documentation as quickly as you can. Bank of America customers can use the Home Loan Navigator to help manage their mortgage application.

  1. Pre-qualification is neither pre-approval nor a commitment to lend; you must submit additional information for review and approval.
  2. Available for fixed-rate purchase loans with terms of 25 or 30 years and on primary residences only. Certain property types are ineligible. Borrower(s) must not have an individual or joint ownership interest in any other residential property at time of closing. Maximum purchase loan-to-value is 97% and maximum combined purchase loan-to-value is 103%. For loan-to-values >95% any secondary financing must be from an approved Community Second Program; ask for details. Homebuyer education may be required. Restrictions apply regarding co-borrowers. Maximum income and loan amount limits apply.
Close Disclaimer
The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

Up Next

Contact Us

  • Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Eastern Sat 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Eastern
    800.763.6798 Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Eastern
    Sat 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Eastern
  • Schedule an appointment

Credit and collateral are subject to approval. Terms and conditions apply. This is not a commitment to lend. Programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.