Checklist for First-time Homebuyers

Start organizing the documents you’ll need to get pre-approved.

If you are shopping for a new home, you will probably need to get a mortgage loan. And that means you will need to get some basic paperwork together. The better organized you are, the faster the pre-approval process will take.

Here are some of the documents, but not all, you will probably need:

  • 12 months of canceled checks (if you’ve been renting with a private landlord)

  • Three months of bank statements

  • Two years of W2 statements and your most recent pay stub (or tax returns if self-employed)

  • Identification

It is very important that you pay your rent by check each month and that you pay it on time. Lenders will look at this as an indicator of how you will handle your mortgage with them. If you’re habitually late with your rent check, they can predict that you won’t pay them on time either. You need to have 12 months of canceled checks, showing you have made your payments on time.

Next you will need to provide three months of complete bank statements for your loan officer. If you don’t have these, order them from your bank, but be aware that they can take a couple weeks to arrive by mail. Lenders need these so that they can verify your assets. Different lenders have different requirements, but most want to see that you have had the down payment in your bank account for at least two months. They also will need for you to have additional funds for reserves.

If you have money in various accounts, you will need to provide three months of bank statements for each account.

To prove your income, you will need two years of W2 statements and a month of pay stubs (if you get paid twice a month, you’d need the last two pay stubs). If you are self-employed, you will need two years of tax returns.

In addition be prepared to present one or two forms of valid photo ID. Your driver’s license will probably be sufficient.

If you are prepared and can gather these documents ahead of time, you can save time in the pre-approval process.
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