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1 We ll help you open the door. The Citizens Guide to Home Financing Lori Customer

2 Table of Contents Before you look 4 The costs of purchasing a home 4 Getting a head start: Pre-approval 6 Choosing a mortgage 7 Qualifying for a mortgage 9 The home financing process 11 Homeownership and beyond 13 Loan documentation 14

3 We re for homes and opening the door to possibilities. We know that there s a lot of pride and satisfaction that comes with owning your own home. It s a long-term investment that s at the center of your life, giving you a sense of stability and security. But we also know that buying a home can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. Which is why at Citizens, we ve dedicated ourselves to making home financing clear and easy to understand. With personal attention and expert guidance at every step. So you can see your way forward with clarity and confidence. And that s helping you borrow better. We ll walk you through, step by step. We ll guide you through the home financing process, so you can find the home loan that s right for you. We re for sensible lending, clear terms, and manageable payments. We re also for being upfront with all the information you need to make smart, informed decisions about home financing. We want to help you better understand the mortgage process and the types of financing options available to you, whether you re a first-time homebuyer or just haven t been through the mortgage process in a while. If you have questions about the information in this booklet or about home financing, you can visit the Home Borrowing section of our website (www.citizensone.com/home-loans.html) or talk with one of our trusted mortgage loan officers in your area. We re here to help you along the way to successful homeownership. It s never too early to explore your options. 3

4 Before you look. Financial preparation is the first and perhaps the most important step in the home buying process. And one of the first questions you ll need to answer is how much home you can afford. Your Citizens loan officer can tell you how much financing you may be able to qualify for, but only you can decide how much you feel comfortable paying each month. Begin by taking a careful look at your household finances, including your savings, credit, income and debt. It s helpful to develop a monthly budget based on your current income and expenses so you can determine a realistically affordable mortgage payment. There are many useful tools and calculators available online, or you can ask your loan officer for assistance. Documenting your expenses and income will give you a clearer picture of your financial situation and help you prepare for the home buying process when the time comes to find a home loan. The costs of purchasing a home. Once you ve taken a look at your monthly expenses, it s time to consider the actual costs of purchasing and maintaining a home. Upfront Costs Your upfront costs will typically include your down payment, the cost of the home inspection, your closing costs and moving expenses. You may also be asked by the property listing agent to put down a deposit, or earnest money, when you sign the purchase contract. This money will be credited back to your transaction at closing, but if you back out of the contract, you risk losing your deposit. Down Payment Generally, down payment requirements range from 5% to 20% of the cost of the house, although some loan programs may offer smaller down payment requirements. However, for down payments less than 20%, you may also be required to pay mortgage insurance. If you are able to make a larger down payment, the initial equity you ll have in your home will be greater. Home Inspection A critical step in the home buying process is a home inspection. This is where you ll get a full picture of the home you are considering any possible defects or what repairs it may require. The cost of a home inspection may range from $200 to $900, depending on the rates where you live, but this unbiased examination of your potential new home is invaluable. 4

5 Closing Costs Closing costs typically range from 2% to 6% of the loan amount depending on your area. These costs include fees charged by your state and local governments for the recording of documents as well as fees associated with origination and settlement of your mortgage. Some fees, like the cost of the appraisal, may be charged upfront by a lender before the loan closes. Moving Costs There are also costs associated with moving your household. Having your friends and family help you move can minimize the expense, but be prepared to pay for other things like the set up of new utilities such as cable and Internet access. Ongoing Costs of Homeownership Homeownership truly does have some wonderful advantages. However, there are additional costs associated with being a homeowner that you may not incur as a renter. Be sure to consider these expenses in your monthly budget when deciding if owning a home is right for you. Your ongoing housing costs may include some or all of the following: Monthly Mortgage Payment Your monthly mortgage payment will typically consist of principal, interest, and escrow. Escrow is money collected by the lender in order to pay your real estate taxes, Homeowner s Hazard Insurance, and if applicable, any flood insurance, mortgage insurance premiums, homeowner association dues or condo fees. Real Estate Taxes A real estate agent or your locality s tax assessment office should be able to give you an idea of what the annual real estate tax would be on a home in your price range. Keep in mind that real estate tax rates and the home s assessed value can change from year to year, which could impact how much escrow you pay. The good news is real estate tax payments are often tax deductible, so remember to consult a tax advisor to determine your eligibility. Homeowner s Hazard Insurance Homeowner s Hazard Insurance coverage is required by all lenders to protect your home against loss due to legal liability, fire, theft, or natural causes. Not all types of peril are covered, so make sure you know what coverage your policy does provide. And, as you would for car insurance, shop around for the best rates and coverage that is right for you. 5

6 Flood Insurance Lenders are required by federal law to obtain a flood certification for any loan secured by residential real estate. If your potential property is located within an area that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has determined to be at risk for flooding, you will need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. Otherwise, the lender will be prevented from offering you financing. Mortgage Insurance If you make a down payment less than 20%, there s a pretty good chance you ll be required to pay mortgage insurance. This insurance offsets some of the risk the lender takes on when offering financing with a smaller down payment and covers a portion of the lender s loss if a borrower defaults on the loan. Depending on the mortgage program you choose, your mortgage insurance premium may be paid to a private company or a government agency, like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). Homeowner Association Dues or Condo Fees Depending on the home you choose, there may be additional dues or fees that you are required to pay on a monthly basis. These fees are usually paid to a condo or neighborhood association to cover the cost of maintaining common areas or upkeep of amenities, such as a pool, clubhouse, etc. Each year you ll receive an escrow analysis statement from your lender that shows you how much was paid on your behalf for your real estate taxes and various insurance premiums. At that time, your lender may need to adjust the escrow portion of your monthly mortgage payment to make sure enough is being collected to cover any changes to your insurance premiums or real estate taxes. Utilities and Home Maintenance Many times home buyers neglect to factor in the costs of local municipality utilities such as water, garbage removal, gas, and electricity into their budget planning. Be sure to consider these costs, especially if you are not currently accustomed to paying for these services. It also takes time and money to keep a property in top condition. Depending on the size and age of the house, maintenance costs can add up. When looking for a home to buy, take note of the age of items like the heating system or roof, as well as any home inspection results, to better prepare yourself for possible future expense. Getting a head start: Pre-approval. Once you ve determined your potential budget, and before you begin searching for a home, it s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Your Citizens loan officer is ready to help. It s a simple process that doesn t take too long to complete, and you ll have peace of mind being one step closer to having your home financing in place. 6

7 During the pre-approval assessment, we ll ask you to provide some details about your income and financial status. Your credit report will also be reviewed. Based on this information, your Citizens loan officer will help you determine how much you may be qualified to borrow and estimate what your monthly mortgage payments might be. You ll also receive a pre-approval letter, which many sellers require prior to reviewing an offer. Becoming pre-approved is an indication to a seller that you are serious about buying a home. In a competitive market, it can give you an advantage over buyers that are not pre-approved. Choosing a mortgage. Selecting the right mortgage is central to the home buying process that s why it s good to understand your options. Having a basic understanding of the kinds of mortgages available will make it easier to determine which one best fits your needs. Your Citizens loan officer will help you through this process. Types of Mortgage Options Citizens offers a full range of home loan programs with a variety of rate, term and cost options. Your loan officer will explain what programs might be available to you based on the qualities you desire and how much you have to contribute toward the down payment and closing costs. Fixed Rate Just as the name would indicate, fixed-rate mortgages have an interest rate that doesn t change over the life of the loan. This type of mortgage offers you predictable monthly payments of principal and interest, and no matter how high mortgage interest rates rise, your loan will have the interest rate you locked into when you got it. Fixed-rate loans are generally well suited to borrowers who plan on staying in their homes for a longer period of time, who have fixed or slowly increasing income, or who have a lower tolerance for financial risk. Adjustable Rate An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) does not have an interest rate that stays fixed over its lifetime. The interest rate on an ARM starts out fixed for a set number of years, after which it becomes variable and will go up or down with the market. This means a borrower s principal and interest payment may increase or decrease at various times. ARMs are usually considered by borrowers who don t plan on remaining in their home for very long or who believe rates will go down sufficiently enough to refinance before the fixed period ends. Because of its risks, the pros and cons of an ARM loan should be considered thoroughly. 7

8 Fully Amortizing Borrowers with fully-amortizing mortgages will make both principal and interest payments over the life of the loan. The principal portion of the payment is calculated so that the outstanding principal balance will be repaid in full by the end of the term. A fully-amortizing loan can have either a fixed rate or an adjustable rate. Interest Only With an interest-only loan, borrowers make only monthly payments of interest for a set number of years before they begin to make principal payments. This option has its risk, because during the interest-only period, the borrower is not building any equity in the home unless the house appreciates in value. There s also no guarantee that a home will appreciate in value. Once the interest-only period ends, the monthly payment increases, often substantially, to make sure the outstanding principal balance is repaid before the loan term ends. Annual Percentage Rate (APR) Versus Interest Rate When you shop for a mortgage, make sure you ask lenders for the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) as well as the interest rate. The interest rate is just the cost to borrow the money. The APR is the total cost a borrower will pay for the loan and its origination, including interest, points and fees. This makes it easier for you to compare your total cost between multiple lenders. Keep in mind that interest rates fluctuate daily, so when you compare APRs among several lenders, you must look at APRs that are generated on the same day. Otherwise, you may not be comparing apples to apples. Discount Points Discount points are a one-time fee that a borrower pays to lower the interest rate. One point is equal to one percent of your loan amount. The more points you elect to pay, the lower your interest rate will be. Because paying discount points lowers your interest rate, you could benefit from lower interest payments over the life of your loan. However, if you don t plan on staying in your home long enough to maximize your interest savings, paying discount points may not be the best option. Talk to your Citizens loan officer to determine how many months you would need to keep your mortgage to break even if you paid discount points. 8

9 Qualifying for a mortgage. Each type of mortgage program has its own specific limits and guidelines a lender must consider when determining whether an applicant is qualified for a loan. However, all lenders look at the same basic factors: credit history, income, assets, employment and debt. They ll also order an appraisal of the property to make sure the home you want to purchase is worth at least as much as the amount you would like to borrow. Credit History Your credit history tells a lender a lot about how you ve handled debt in the past. For this reason, lenders review your credit score and credit report to look for things like: Overall credit experience and length of time having credit Payment history track record Adverse elements in your credit report, such as: - Bankruptcies, filed judgments or collections - A history of late payments - Credit cards with outstanding balances at the credit limit Before applying for home financing, it s always important to get a copy of your credit report to determine if there are any potential issues that may need addressing upfront or correcting. By law, the three nationwide credit reporting companies must provide you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months. You can visit https://www.annualcreditreport.com or call to obtain a copy from all three companies or contact them individually at: Equifax P.O. Box Atlanta, GA Experian P.O. Box 2002 Allen, TX Trans Union P.O. Box 1000 Chester, PA Even after you apply for home financing, you ll want to avoid doing anything that might negatively impact your credit score or credit report such as opening a new credit card or charging large amounts. And unless you re instructed to do so by your lender, you should also avoid making large payoffs of debt. Since your lender may pull your credit report at application and just before closing, these actions could hinder the processing and approval of your loan. 9

10 Employment and Income When considering your ability to repay a mortgage, lenders will look at whether you have a stable source of regular income and if it is sufficient to cover the costs of your new payment and other existing debt. Employment consistency is certainly a plus. Unless absolutely necessary, it s best to avoid changing jobs while buying a home. A lender will ask you to provide a full two-year employment history, including names, addresses, and phone numbers of prior employers. You may also need to explain any employment gaps that may have occurred. If you are a salaried or hourly worker, you will need to provide your most current pay stub and two years of W-2s. If you are self-employed or have any other sources of income, you may be required to provide two years of tax returns with all schedules. Supplying less than what is requested may have a negative impact on loan qualification, since this type of income is usually averaged over two years. Assets Lenders will also look at the assets you have on hand. Your assets are a good indication that you have back up resources to make future mortgage payments. A lender will require you to provide documentation for any assets you declare on your loan application. Complete documentation is critical to the approval process. Here are a few helpful tips when it comes to your assets and applying for a mortgage: Avoid switching banks or moving money between your accounts. When you move money around, your assets become harder for a lender to verify. Avoid cash deposits. Cash deposits are not generally an acceptable source of funds when purchasing a home because they are very difficult to document. Be sure to have good documentation regarding the source of any large deposits. The definition of large varies and any amount outside of your regular payroll deposits may be subject to documentation. Avoid depleting your assets (making major purchases, etc.). Lenders may request updated asset balances for closing, and if the funds are not available, this may impact loan approval. You may be asked to submit bank statements for the prior two months with all pages. It s important to provide all numbered pages of the statement, including any blank pages. 10

11 Debt In order for a lender to responsibly determine whether you can afford a mortgage payment, you must be able to provide details on your recurring debt payments. Debt obligations would include any car or truck loan or lease, student loans, credit cards, child support, etc. In addition, you ll need to provide information on any costs associated with the home you are considering purchasing Homeowner s Hazard Insurance and, if applicable, any homeowner association dues or condo fees. Qualifying Ratio So what do lenders do with all of this information? This data is used to calculate your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI). DTI is a comparison of the total of all your monthly debts, including the new monthly housing costs, to your monthly gross income. Every mortgage program will have its own guidelines, but most will have a maximum DTI of 43%. $3,500 (Monthly Gross Income) x.43 = $1,505 (Total Debt) This is only an example of how the qualifying ratio works. Your loan officer will be able to help you determine what products might fit your individual circumstances. The qualifying ratio helps lenders assess your ability to repay the mortgage. Lenders will also consider other risk factors, such as your credit score and how much of your own money you have to invest in the transaction, to ultimately determine whether to make the loan. The home financing process. Now that you understand the basics about mortgages and loan qualification, it s time to discuss the home financing process itself. There are several phases along the path of obtaining a mortgage, but don t let that overwhelm you. Your loan officer and the team at Citizens will be with you at every step to guide you and answer any questions you might have along the way. Application When you ve found the home you want to buy and the seller has accepted your offer, you ll need to officially apply for your loan. At this time you ll complete the application form and select your mortgage options. You ll also receive disclosures that explain the fees and charges you may expect to pay for your loan as well as the terms you have chosen. 11

12 This is a critical step in the process. If you have any questions about the information outlined in your disclosures or if there is something you don t fully understand, you should talk to your Citizens loan officer before proceeding. We ll also be here every step of the way with regular communication throughout the loan process to keep you updated on the progress of your application. Processing Once you ve decided to move forward with the financing you ve selected, your loan officer will collect the information needed to process your loan. An appraisal will be ordered to determine the fair market value of the property you wish to purchase. You ll also be given the option of locking in or floating your interest rate. Floating means your interest rate will fluctuate with the market during the processing of your loan. Locking your rate protects you from any possible rate increases that may occur prior to closing. Underwriting and Loan Decision During this phase, the information you gave on your application will be verified. You may be asked to supply additional back-up documentation to fill in any gaps or provide explanations for any inconsistencies. After the underwriter has reviewed everything, you ll be notified whether your application for a loan was approved. If your application was not approved for some reason, you ll receive an explanation for the denial. Should this happen, your loan officer can work with you to determine what actions you might consider taking to improve your chances for obtaining financing in the future. Pre-Closing Prior to closing, you ll receive copies of all appraisals and home valuations connected with your loan application. You ll have 3 business days to review and ask any remaining questions. All parties involved with the completion of the loan will be contacted to arrange for the closing to take place at a convenient time and location. The exact closing procedure may vary depending on your location. You ll also be notified of the amount of money, as well as any additional documents, you may need to bring to the closing. Closing The last step in the process is also very critical. It s important to review your closing documents thoroughly before signing and make sure you are comfortable with all of the terms. After closing, ownership of the property will be transferred from the seller to you. A closing agent will coordinate and distribute all of the paperwork and funds, according to the terms agreed upon by you and the seller. Congratulations, homeowner! 12

13 Homeownership and beyond. While buying a home can often seem like a complex process, we know that having helpful, expert guidance on your side can make all the difference. At Citizens, we re ready to be your personal guide. We re for homes and making the process clear and easy to understand so you can see your way forward with confidence. Let s talk because it all begins with a conversation. If after reading this booklet you have questions or need more information, we re here with answers. You have a support team at Citizens, and you can count on us to be there for you from application to closing and beyond. 13

14 Loan documentation. When you apply for a mortgage, you ll need to provide personal identification as well as copies of certain financial documents. Below is a useful listing of some of the information you may be asked to provide, depending on your circumstances and the type of mortgage financing you select. Personal Identification q Valid driver s license, passport or government-issued identification card q Social Security Number or Tax Identification Number q Divorce decree, if applicable Employment Information q Name and address of your employers for the previous two years Self-employment Information q One to three years of business income tax returns and all schedules q Proof of self-employment for at least two years (business license/proof of liability insurance/letter from accountant) q Business financial statements Credit Information q Landlord name, address and phone number for previous two years or last 12 to 24 months of cancelled rent checks q Most recent credit statements for any auto loans, personal loans, student loans, etc. q Bankruptcy papers, if applicable Income Information q Most recent pay stubs q One to three years of W-2 forms q One to three years of personal income tax returns and all schedules Asset Information q Most recent bank statements (all pages) to verify deposit accounts q Most recent statements for any investment/retirement income, if using for qualification 14

15 Property Information q Fully-executed Purchase and Sales Agreement for subject property q Name, phone number and address of your Homeowner s Hazard Insurance agent q Proof of Homeowner s Hazard Insurance q Verification of earnest money deposit on property being purchased and source of funds (i.e. bank statement) q Amount of any homeowner association dues or condo fees for the new property If you currently have a mortgage on another property or if you have rental income on a property, you may also be asked to provide documentation related to your ownership. It s never too early to explore your options, so speak with us today. 15

16 Mortgages are offered and originated by Citizens Bank, N.A. Citizens One Home Loans is a brand name of Citizens Bank, N.A. (NMLS ID# ) All loans are subject to approval. Equal Housing Lender. HLBR1055K_HGUID

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