What Is a Mortgage and How Does It Work?

Posted on Jun 1 2023 - 11:00am by Paige Brown, Managing Editor
Comments Off on What Is a Mortgage and How Does It Work?

By Anita Ginsburg 

Buying a home is a dream for many people, and a mortgage is the most common way to finance it. If you're wondering what a mortgage is and how it works, you're not alone! Mortgages can be complex, and understanding the process can make all the difference when it comes to making one of the biggest investments in your life. This post will explore and shed some light on what a mortgage is, how it works, and what you need to know before you take out a home loan.

What Is a Mortgage?
A mortgage is a loan that's used to purchase a property. It's a legal agreement between the borrower and the lender, where the borrower promises to repay the loan (plus interest) over a set timeline. Your mortgage agreement will include details such as the loan amount, interest rate, repayment period, and the rules for making payments. There are companies, like USA Mortgage-Volunteer Mortgage Group which specialize in helping people calculate and choose mortgage agreements. When you take out a mortgage, you'll usually need to provide a down payment (typically 5%-20% of the purchase price) and pay closing costs (fees to cover the costs of the loan).

How Does a Mortgage Work?
Mortgages can have fixed or variable interest rates. A fixed-rate mortgage means that your interest rate stays the same for the entire loan term, while a variable-rate mortgage means that your interest rate can change (which could mean you pay more or less in interest). You'll also need to choose between a conventional mortgage (which is not government-backed) or an FHA loan (which is backed by the Federal Housing Administration). Your credit score will also play a role in determining your eligibility (and interest rate) for a mortgage. 

The Steps Involved in Getting a Mortgage
To get a mortgage, you'll need to follow a series of steps. First, you'll need to find a lender (such as a bank, credit union, or mortgage company) and get pre-approved (which means the lender will review your financial information and provide a conditional approval for a loan amount). Then, you'll need to submit a formal loan application, provide documentation such as proof of income and assets, and get a home appraisal, to determine the property's value. If your loan application is approved, you'll close on the loan, which means you'll sign the mortgage papers and pay closing costs.

What You Need to Know Before Getting a Mortgage
Before you get a mortgage, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, think about how much you can afford—your monthly mortgage payment shouldn't exceed 28% of your gross income. You'll also need to have a good credit score (at least 620), a stable job, and a solid financial history. It's also a good idea to save for a down payment—which can help you secure a better interest rate and lower your monthly payments—and to budget for closing costs (which can range from 2%-5% of the loan amount).

Getting a mortgage can be overwhelming, but understanding the process can help you make an informed decision. Knowing what a mortgage is, how it works, and what you need to qualify can make all the difference when it comes to financing your dream home. By following the steps outlined in this post and doing your research, you can become a savvy homebuyer and navigate the mortgage process with confidence.

Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colorado. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.