- Lenders need to look at your income, assets, credit, and debt before qualifying you for a mortgage.
- Be prepared to provide pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns, bank statements, and any other documentation proving you have the ability to repay the loan.
- Having your documents ready ahead of time can help the process go more smoothly.
Getting a mortgage requires a lot of documentation. To ensure that you can afford to pay back the money you’re borrowing, your mortgage lender will go through your financial history with a fine-tooth comb.
This means you’ll be asked to provide a lot of proof that you have sufficient income, credit, and assets to qualify for a loan. Having all these documents ready to go ahead of time can help make this process go more smoothly.
“Although the process of submitting paperwork to process your loan can feel laborious in today’s fast-moving, competitive homebuying market, the documentation you submit for the underwriting process can have a major impact on how long it takes to process your loan,” says Michael Innis-Thompson, Head of Community Lending and Development at TD Bank.
In a market where sellers are often receiving multiple offers, being prepared and responding quickly when your lender requests documentation can give you a competitive edge, Innis-Thompson says.
“The most prepared buyers – those who have their paperwork in order and can enter a contract with ease – are most attractive to sellers,” he adds.
What documents are needed to apply for a mortgage?
The exact documents your lender will request depends on your situation. Self-employed borrowers, for example, will need to provide different documentation than someone who receives a W-2 as a full-time employee.
You may not have to dig up all these documents yourself. Some lenders have technology that can pull certain information on your behalf.
Here’s a list of some of the most common items
will ask for. If you’re borrowing with someone else, such as your spouse, remember that you’ll both need to provide these things.
To confirm that you are who you say you are, your lender may ask for some form of identification, such as a driver’s license.
Proof of income
Lenders want to see that you have a steady and predictable source of income. To prove this, some of the documents you may be asked to supply include:
- One month of pay stubs
- Two years of W-2s or 1099s
- Two years of tax returns
- Year-to-date profit and loss statement (if you’re self-employed)
- Verification of alimony or child support payments (including a copy of the legal agreement or court decree describing the terms of these payments and proof that you’ve received them)
- Social Security award letter
- Documentation verifying any other sources of income you want to use to qualify
Bank statements and other proof of assets
When you get a mortgage, you’ll typically need to have some money for a
† Your lender may also want to see that you have additional funds saved up that could be used to cover your payments for a few months if you were to lose your job suddenly. These funds are known as reserves.
To prove that you have the cash to close and cover reserve requirements, you’ll probably need to give your lender:
- Two months of bank statements for your checking and savings accounts
- Two months of statements for any investment accounts you own, including retirement savings
- Any other statements documenting assets you’ll be using to qualify or put toward your down payment or closing costs
- Gift letters documenting the receipt of gifts from family or friends toward a down payment
Verification of your debts
Mortgage approval doesn’t just hinge on how much money you have in your bank, or how much you earn each month; how much money you’re spending each month on debts and other obligations also plays a major role in your ability to qualify for a mortgage.
Lenders can gather a lot of this information by looking at your credit report. But you may need to provide additional documentation regarding certain obligations, such as your student loans or any alimony or child support you’re required to pay.
If you’re currently a renter, your lender might want proof that you have a history of paying your rent on time. Be prepared to provide information about your rental history for the last year. This might include showing canceled rent checks.
Other things your lender might need from you
- Authorization to run your credit
- Social Security number
- Certificate of eligibility, if you’re applying for a VA mortgage
- Documentation surrounding previous negative credit events, such as a foreclosure or bankruptcy
Why do I need to show so many different documents to get a mortgage?
Most mortgage lenders are required to do a certain amount of due diligence to ensure that you can afford the loan you’re taking out. This is known as the ability-to-repay rule.
To comply with the ability-to-repay rule, lenders need to document your income, assets, employment, credit history, and monthly expenses, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau†