First Time Home Buyer

First Time Home Buyer Guide

Ask An Expert - What is a conventional loan

Conventional Mortgage Loan Requirements & Benefits

A conventional loan is a mortgage that is not backed by a government agency. Many lenders offer “conforming loans”, a type of conventional loan, which conform to the guidelines set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two government-sponsored enterprises then buy the mortgages from lenders, thus reducing the risk to the lender and creating liquidity for more loans. Some lenders also offer “non-conforming” conventional loans. These include jumbo mortgages and other loans that may have unusual or riskier characteristics.

Benefits of Conventional Loans

  • Loan processing may be faster because you do not have to wait on additional government requirements.
  • Down payments as low as 3% for first time home buyers. No mortgage insurance required for down payments 20% or higher.
  • Borrowers with high credit scores and a good down payment will benefit most from conventional loans. AmeriSave offers competitively low conventional mortgage rates.
  • Some government loans come with additional fees or mortgage insurance requirements that conventional loans do not have. Private lenders set their own fees for conventional loans.  For example, AmeriSave has no loan origination fee options. Read more about government programs before applying.
  • Higher maximum loan limits.

Conventional Loan Requirements

Approval criteria varies from lender to lender. Some of AmeriSave’s general requirements for single unit home purchases include:

  • 620 minimum credit score.
  • A recent full exterior and interior appraisal.
  • Maintain current job throughout the entire loan process and make no major purchases, such as a new vehicle.
  • No manufactured or mobile homes allowed.

Do you still have questions about conventional loans? Contact us by phone or chat and an AmeriSave loan originator will be happy to answer your questions. They can help you decide whether a conventional or government loan is best for you.   They can also walk you through all of your interest rate, term, and closing cost options.

asset verification

How Do You Verify My Assets?

One of the biggest complaints from consumers is the hassle of collecting document after document for asset verification. AmeriSave offers paperless asset verification through AccountChek. Our priority is ensuring that the information we receive is safe, secure and accurate while providing exceptional customer service in a timely fashion.

Assets are generally verified by bank statements and/or a verification of deposit that your bank completes.

Reserve Requirements

The amount of reserves varies greatly, depending on program and loan product type.


How Does Credit Affect My Mortgage Rate?

When you apply for a mortgage, your credit will be pulled during the Application Process.

What is AmeriSave’s minimum credit score?

The minimum credit score for AmeriSave is 620 for our conventional products. FHA, VA, and USDA loans require a minimum credit score of 600.

Which credit score is used to determine what I qualify for?

The credit report used for your mortgage application provides three credit scores for each applicant. These credit scores are supplied by Experian, Trans Union and Equifax. AmeriSave uses the middle of the three credit scores or the lowest credit score if only two are provided.

For applications with multiple applicants for which three credit scores are supplied, AmeriSave uses the lower of the middle credit scores. For applications with multiple applicants for which two credit scores are supplied, AmeriSave will use the lowest of the scores.

Why are my credit scores different than what I saw on a report I pulled?

Typically when you have your own credit pulled, you receive a consumer credit report. Mortgage transactions use a tri-merged report which may contain more details than a consumer report.

How do late mortgage payments, debt consolidations, short sales, foreclosures and bankruptcies affect qualifying for a mortgage?

If you have had a bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past, it may affect your ability to get a new mortgage. Unless the bankruptcy or foreclosure was caused by situations beyond your control, we generally require two to four years to pass after the bankruptcy and 7 years after a foreclosure. It is also important that you re-established an acceptable credit history.

when to refinance

When Can I Refinance?

What is a cash-out refinance?

If you have equity in your home — you owe less than the home is worth — you may be able to refinance and get some of the equity out in cash. Homeowners can use the cash for any reason, but a common use is for debt consolidation, or home improvements, which may increase the value of the home.

How long do I have to own my home before I can refinance?

Generally, you must be on title of the home at least 1 day prior to application to obtain a rate and term refinance. You must be on the title of the home for 6 months prior to application, before you can obtain a cash-out refinance.

How do I choose the right lender?

When it comes to choosing a mortgage lender, many borrowers’ top focus is on pricing. People want to go with the lender that’s going to give them the better deal. Even though pricing is the number one priority, there are other things to consider as well such as the loan programs offered, and the ease of working with the lender.

At AmeriSave, great rates and technology that makes obtaining a mortgage easy and efficient are our top priorities. We offer in-house processing, underwriting, closing, and funding, so that we can offer our very best rates and minimize delays.

It’s important to compare rates from multiple mortgage lenders to ensure you are receiving the deal that’s best for your needs. However, when comparing rates, keep in mind that in order to get the most accurate picture, you should compare rates for the same type of mortgage on the same day because the market changes daily. You will also need to review the cost of title insurance, closing/attorney and appraisal. Your Loan Estimate will show a breakdown of those fees.

For the financially savvy, refinancing your mortgage can be a very lucrative decision. Make sure you pick a lender that is going to offer you the best savings and meets all of your requirements.


What Income Documentation Do I Need?

We require full documentation for conventional loans (including all income and assets). We do allow for limited documentation on FHA and VA streamlines.

Acceptable types of income documents


Generally, the income of W-2 borrowers is verified by obtaining copies of the last two pay stubs and copies of the last two years W-2 statements.

Self- Employed

The income of a self-employed borrower is, generally, verified by obtaining copies of personal (and business, if applicable) federal tax returns for the most recent two year period.

We review and average the net income from self-employment shown on your tax returns to determine the income that can be used to qualify. We do not consider any income that has not been reported on your tax returns. Typically, we need at least a two-year history of self-employment to verify that your self-employment income is stable.

Bonus, overtime and commissions

In order for bonus, overtime or commission income to be considered, you must have a history of receiving it and it must be likely to continue. Usually, we will request copies of W-2 statements for the previous two years and two recent pay stubs to verify this type of income. If a major part of your income is commission earnings, we may need to obtain copies of recent tax returns to verify the amount of business-related expenses, if any. We then average the amounts you have received over the past two years to calculate the amount that can be considered a regular part of your income.

Bonus, overtime, or commission income should have been received for the most recent two years.  Periods of 12 to 24 months may be considered as acceptable income, if the borrower’s loan application demonstrates that there are positive factors that reasonably offset justifying use of a shorter income history.  Income received for less than one year would not be considered stable and reliable.

Second jobs

It may be possible to use income from a second job to qualify if a consistent two year history of secondary employment can be verified.

Retirement or Social Security

We generally ask for copies of your recent pension check stubs or bank statements if your pension or retirement income is deposited directly in your bank account. Sometimes it is necessary to verify that this income will continue for at least three years, since some pension or retirement plans do not provide income for life. This can usually be verified with a copy of your award letter. If you do not have an award letter, we may be able to contact the source of this income directly for verification.

If you are receiving tax-free income such as Social Security earnings, we require the award letter or proof of receipt in most cases.

Rental income

If you own rental properties, we generally ask for the most recent year’s federal tax return to verify your rental i

We may require that you have a one/two year history of rental ncome. We review the Schedule E of the tax return to verify your rental income after all expenses, except depreciation.income on your tax returns for the income to be considered.

Dividend and interest income

Generally, two years of personal tax returns are required to verify the amount of your dividend and/or interest income so that an average amount can be calculated. In addition, we need to verify your ownership of the assets that generate the income using current copies of statements from your financial institution, brokerage statements, stock certificates or promissory notes.

Typically, income from dividends and/or interest must be expected to continue for at least three years to be considered for repayment.

Child Support, alimony, or separate maintenance income

We will generally request a copy of the court order or divorce decree to verify this income and its continuance. We will need to document consistent receipt for the most recent six months or in some cases longer.

Foreign income

We may allow foreign income to qualify, depending on how that income is paid and documented on your personal tax returns.

What is a debt to income ratio (DTI)?

A debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is the percentage of a consumer’s monthly gross income that goes toward paying debts. DTI often covers more than just debts listed on your credit report; it will include other items such as taxes, home owner’s association fees, insurance premiums, etc. It is calculated by dividing total recurring debt by gross income. A lower DTI is preferable when applying for a loan.

The maximum DTI allowed varies, depending on loan type.


Why Do I Need An Appraisal?

Why do I need to have an appraisal done?

The appraisal is done to determine the value of the property you are purchasing or refinancing and to ensure the property type is eligible for financing.

Can I hire my own appraiser?

Due to the Appraisal Independence Requirements (AIR) issued by Fannie Mae, an appraisal must be ordered under specific guidelines to ensure the inspection and value assigned by the independent appraiser are completely unbiased from any outside influences.

Does someone have to be at the home for the appraisal?

Someone must be present as the appraiser will need to have access to the inside of the home.

Will the appraiser contact me before the scheduled appointment?

The appraiser will be in contact to confirm the scheduled date and time prior to arriving.

Can I use a recently completed appraisal for another lender?

In certain cases, it is possible to accept a transferred appraisal under the condition that we can verify that the Appraisal Independence Requirements have been complied with.

How long is the appraisal good for?

For conventional, FHA and USDA loans, appraisals are good for 120 days. For VA loans, appraisals are good for 180 days.

Can I dispute the appraisal if I don’t agree with the value?

Typically the appraisal can only be disputed if you have one or more of the following factors:

  • Viable comparable properties that were not included in the original report.
  • Information to support inaccuracies of the appraisal report.

How To Compare Offers From Multiple Lenders

How To Compare Offers From Multiple Lenders

First, make sure you are comparing current mortgage rates for the same type of mortgage. Mortgage rates and closing costs can change significantly from one day to another, so if you are comparing offers from multiple lenders it should be done on the same day. For example, if you are shopping mortgage rates and have a quote for a 30 year fixed at 5.75%, only compare it to other 30 year fixed quotes at 5.75%.

Next, compare the total of all points and lender fees for each mortgage. This information can be found on your Loan Estimate (LE).

If you are refinancing, you will also need to review the cost of title insurance, closing/attorney, and appraisal. Your Loan Estimate (LE) will show a breakdown of those fees.

What are closing costs?

Closing costs consist of three main groups: third party costs, mortgage taxes & lender fees.

  • Third party costs are fees that you or the lender pays on your behalf for you to obtain a mortgage, including appraisal fee, credit report fee, title fee and attorney fee. When refinancing, review these costs carefully as some lenders may have lower costs.
  • Mortgage taxes will be the same between all lenders.
  • Points and lender fees are essentially what the lender charges to originate your home loan.. Points and fees should be reviewed carefully.