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The 6 Common Mortgage Myths You Should Dismiss

At HomeLight, our vision is a world where every real estate transaction is simple, certain, and satisfying. Therefore, we promote strict editorial integrity in each of our posts.

You’ve heard all the outdated and incorrect mortgage advice. Like you have to make a 20% down payment, or you can’t buy a home in a competitive market without an all-cash offer. Nonsense!

There are so many myths surrounding mortgages, it can be intimidating for homebuyers.

Plus, it’s hard to get a straight answer to your mortgage questions, what with wildly contradictory and outdated advice dominating internet search results.

We think it’s time to debunk these pervasive mortgage myths once and for all. Here’s the top 6 myths you need to know:

A person checking their credit on a phone after applying with multiple lenders.
Source: (picjumbo/ Pixabay)

Myth #1: Applying with multiple lenders will hurt your credit

When you’re applying for a mortgage, you want to keep your credit score in tip-top shape. It’s a good idea to keep your credit card balances below 30%, and to avoid making any big financial moves that could affect your debt-to-income ratio (like taking out a loan for a new car).

Credit inquiries are a necessary part of applying for a mortgage, but they do put a small dent in your credit score.

For most people, one additional credit inquiry will shave less than five points off their FICO Scores. Why? Inquiries signal to creditors that you’re thinking about taking on new debt, explains the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

But what about rate shopping? The truth is, it’s possible to shop around for a mortgage without it hurting your credit, so long as you do it within a 45-day window, explains the CFPB.

Within this 45-day period, multiple credit checks from mortgage lenders are counted on your credit report as a single inquiry, allowing you to get pre-approvals and Loan Estimates from as many lenders as you’d like.

Myth #2: You need 20% Down To Buy A Home

The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is 5%, according to a report from the National Association of REALTORS®.

Sellers are able to leverage the cash they’ve earned from their home sales to put an average of 14% down on a new home.

But, altogether, the median down payment is 10%, according to The 2017 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

If you’re waiting to reach a 20% down payment goal, you could be missing out on ideal market conditions and letting the best interest rates surpass you. Even if you can afford to put 20% into a down payment, it might make better sense to keep some of your funds liquid.

Of course, there are benefits to making a large down payment. A 20% (or larger) down payment can significantly reduce your interest rate, saving you thousands over the life of the loan. And it can help you avoid private mortgage insurance if you’re going the conventional loan route.

The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all down payment. Everyone’s financial situation is different. Always consult with a trusted real estate agent and financial advisor before deciding how much to put down on your new home.

Source: (picjumbo/ Pixabay)

Myth #3: Once you’re pre-qualified, you’re good to go

The terms pre-qualified and pre-approved almost sound as though they could be interchangeable. But there’s actually quite a big difference between the two.

Being pre-qualified for a home loan is simply an initial step that gives you a ballpark idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow. You provide information about your financial situation, such as your income, credit score, assets and debt, and you can become pre-qualified.

But pre-approval occurs when your financial information has been assessed and verified, making you a stronger buyer, and more likely to get to the closing table.

Myth #4: You need a perfect credit score to get the best rate

Trying to polish your credit score and get it above 800 isn’t necessary when it comes to qualifying for the best mortgage rates.

Plus, if you’re waiting for your score to ascend to the 800 club, or even go up 10 or so points, you could be letting good rates and ideal market conditions pass you by.

A score of 760 or higher will help you secure the best rates for loans. If you’re above 760, that’s great, because you’ll have a buffer in case your score fluctuates between being pre-approved and getting to the closing table.

If your score isn’t 760, that’s okay, too. You can still qualify for competitive rates.

A house acquired after applying with multiple lenders.
Source: (Milly Eaton/ Pexels)

Myth #5: You should pay your mortgage off quickly

Congrats! You’ve got a mortgage. You may have heard that you should pay it down as quickly as possible. But, this is outdated advice that doesn’t make much sense in today’s economy.

Why? A mortgage is likely the cheapest money you can borrow. Where else can you get a million-dollar loan at 5% interest for 30 years?

Plus, the interest you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible and making regular monthly payments on a mortgage account will have a positive impact on your credit score, lengthening your credit history.

Taking the money you would otherwise use to pay down your mortgage faster, and investing it instead, could actually make you more money. Always talk with a financial advisor first, but know that you have options.

Header Image Source: (stockfour/ Shutterstock)