Applying for a Mortgage

JHFCU tries to make the mortgage application process easy, with an emphasis on explaining options. To start the process, visit or call one of our mortgage lending specialists at 410-534-4500 x503 to discuss your situation and available options.

If it is a purchase or refinance of a first mortgage, they will refer you to Financial Security Consultants, Inc. (FSC), who can take most of your application information over the phone. You can also call Financial Security Consultants directly at 410-823-3300 to discuss options and/or current rates.  Be sure to take advantage of the $100 Rebate if you apply.

JHFCU partners with (FSC) to assist with the mortgage processing. FSC gathers the documentation and ensures the loan paperwork is in good order, before turning it over to JHFCU for approval. Johns Hopkins Federal Credit Union also services its own loans, so you will receive statements from JHFCU and can view your balance in Online Banking.

  • Documents You Will Need


    During the application process, you will receive correspondence from FSC requesting copies of documents, including the items listed*.

     

    All applicants:

    • 2 years’ personal tax returns and 2 most recent months’ asset statements

    If employed:

    • 2 most recent pay stubs 
    • 2 most recent W-2 forms 

    If retired:   

    • Most recent pension check stub if available
    • Account statement with direct deposit of pension and/or social security shown
    • Past years’ 1099 tax statements for pension and social security

    If self-employed:

    • 2 years’ business tax returns

    If purchasing:

    • Copy of sales contract 
    • Copy of deposit check

     If refinancing:

    • Copy of homeowners’ insurance declaration page 
    • Copy of owners’ title insurance if available 
    • Copy of a recent statement for the existing mortgage(s)

    *JHFCU may require more documentation during the application process

    Read More about Documents You Will Need
  • Qualifying for Your Mortgage


    There are a few factors that can affect your ability to get a mortgage, including your credit history, your current savings, your current debts, employment history and any other income. 

    Your Credit History

    The minimum credit score for a standard first mortgage is typically 620. Your credit should show no recent bankruptcies, foreclosures or short sales. If you need help bringing your credit score up to this standard, the Credit Union offers a credit counseling service for our members through Accel (1-877-33ACCEL.)

    Your Savings

    If you’re purchasing a home, funds for your down payment and closing costs can come from your own savings, a gift from a relative, a loan against a retirement plan or other financial asset, or a combination of the above. You’ll need 3% of the purchase price in your own money unless you can make a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price. If you can put more than 20% down, all of the funds can come from a gift.

    If you’re refinancing, you may not need to contribute any money except for the cost of a credit report and home appraisal. For both purchases and refinances, the credit union currently lends up to 95% of the purchase price or value of the home. See the section on closing costs for more information on what you can expect there.

    Your Debts

    Mortgage lenders look at your new mortgage payment, including taxes, homeowners’ insurance and any homeowners’ association fees, as well as the minimum monthly payments on other loans and credit cards you have, and compare the total to your monthly pre-tax income. (Student loans in deferment are also included in the monthly debt calculation even though payments may not have begun yet.) The lower your percentage of debt to income, the better qualified you are. If your own rough calculation puts your debt to income percentage close to or above 40%, we suggest you contact us for advice prior to buying or refinancing. We’ll review your situation and see if there are ways to reduce your monthly debt burden so that you are better qualified for your mortgage. Keep in mind that any effort you make to consolidate your debt should make sense on its own—for example, refinancing a car loan for a longer term with a higher interest rate may not be the best move for you even if it does lower your total monthly outlay. Talk to us first before you restructure your debt to make sure it really makes sense for you.

    Your Employment History

    Ideally, you should have at least a two-year history of employment (not necessarily all with the same employer) or attendance at an educational institution. A shorter time period or a gap between jobs will need to be explained. If you’re self-employed or need commission income to qualify, that income will need to be documented by the most recent two years’ tax returns verifying receipt of the income.

    Other Income

    Other income, such as pensions, social security, rent, dividends and interest, and other similar items can also be used to qualify. Documentation requirements may include retirement income award letters, 1099 tax statements, or actual tax returns

    Read More about Qualifying for Your Mortgage
  • Closing Costs


    The closing cost question is not as easy to answer as it sounds. While a good rule of thumb is that closing costs on a purchase will be about 5% of the purchase price, and closing costs on a refinance will be 2.5% - 3% of the loan amount, closing costs will vary depending on the type of mortgage transaction, the type of property, the area you live in, and other factors. And not all lenders will answer your question the same way. Some will only tell you about lender fees. Some will tell you lender fees and title company fees. Some will include property taxes and insurance, and some will not. So it’s important to know what to ask so that you can make a valid comparison. (Once you actually apply for a mortgage, you’ll get a Good Faith Estimate, which is a document that formally lists your anticipated closing costs. Those costs can vary only by certain limited percentages as required by law when you reach the settlement table.)


    First of all, you should know that your “closing costs” are not the same as “the money you need to bring to settlement.” If you’re refinancing and the value of your home is high enough, you can choose to include all of your closing costs in your new loan amount and bring no money to settlement. If you’re purchasing, the cash you need to bring to settlement will include not only closing costs, but your required down payment. The good news for purchasers is that often you can negotiate for sellers to pay a portion of your closing costs to reduce the cash you need to bring to the settlement table.

    Secondly, you should understand that some of your closing costs will vary depending on where you get your mortgage and what title company conducts your settlement, and other closing costs will be the same wherever you go.

    Closing costs that will remain the same regardless of where you get your mortgage or conduct your settlement are the fees that are paid to the state and county where the property is located. These fees are called transfer taxes, recordation taxes, and document stamps. They are based on the purchase price of the property and the amount of your mortgage. Calculating these can be somewhat complex since the calculation changes if the property is a principal residence as opposed to a second home or rental property, if the property is a one-unit home versus a multi-unit home, if an existing mortgage is being paid off and closed, and if the purchaser is a first-time home buyer, for example. You’ll want to find out what these are for your own loan transaction, but don’t waste time trying to compare these from one lender to another.

    Likewise, funds that must be brought to closing to pay property taxes and insurance and to fund an escrow account to provide for next year’s payment of these items will not vary by lender—your property taxes are your property taxes no matter where you get your financing! So find out how much this will be, but don’t bother trying to “shop” this category, referred to as “pre-paids and escrows.”

    Lender points and fees are a closing cost category that will change from lender to lender. Points, origination fees, broker fees, tax service fees, underwriting fees, documentation preparation fees, and similar items can seem bewildering and hard to compare, particularly since a loan with a low rate may have higher lender fees than a loan with a higher rate, and it can be hard to tell which is better for you. These lender fees must be considered in the “Annual Percentage Rate” or “APR” for the loan. The APR is a calculation that takes into account not only the interest rate, but also certain fees payable in connection with the loan. If you’re trying to compare two loan offers with different interest rates and lender fees, ask about the APR on each. The lower the APR, the better the deal, as a general rule. Do keep in mind that to calculate the APR, the lender will need to ask you some questions specific to your transaction, so expect to spend some time on the phone!

    The last broad category of closing costs is title costs. Again, these can vary depending on the title company or attorney who closes your loan, so you may want to shop around. Keep in mind, though, that you do get what you pay for. If a title company’s fees are far below market, this may indicate that they cut costs by not doing as thorough a job, and this could mean problems for you later when you try to sell or refinance and don’t have clear title because work was not done properly the first time.

    The bottom line? Closing costs are an important consideration when you’re shopping for a mortgage, and you should definitely consider the lender and title company fee categories when you’re making your choice—but don’t forget about interest rate, service reputation, stability of the financial institution and ease of doing business there. Make sure you choose your mortgage lender for ALL of the right reasons!

    Read More about Closing Costs