Preparing to shop

Create a loan application packet

In the Explore loan choices phase, you will talk with several lenders to get acquainted. You’ll need to give these lenders some information about your finances. It’s best to gather this information now, so you’ll have it ready at your fingertips.

What to do now

Gather your personal and financial information

  • Pay stub for the last 30 days
  • W-2 forms, last two years
  • Signed federal tax return, last two years
  • Documentation of any other sources of income
  • Bank statements, two most recent
  • Documentation of the source of your down payment: investment or savings account statements showing at least two months’ history of ownership. If some of the funds were a gift, get a signed statement from the giver stating that the funds were a gift.
  • Documentation of name change, if recent
  • Proof of your identity (typically a drivers’ license or non-driver ID)
  • Social security number
  • Certificate of housing counseling or home buyer education, if you have one

Servicemembers or veterans should obtain a certificate of eligibility from the VA

The VA’s Home Loan Guarantee Program is a good option for veterans and servicemembers to consider, and you need this certificate if you decide to go that route.


What to know

The more organized you are, the faster the loan approval process is likely to be

Make sure your documents are accurate and complete.

Your lenders use the information you provide to decide how much they are willing to lend you at what interest rate. If your information is inaccurate, you could encounter costly surprises down the road. If your documents are incomplete, lenders may reject them.

  • Make sure to include every page of multi-page documents, even ones marked “intentionally left blank.”
  • Make sure when printing online documents that the full URL is included on the bottom of each page.

Chances are, you'll need to update your loan application packet at least once during this process

Lenders like to see the most recent bank statements, pay stubs, etc. If you access any of these items online, write a reminder to yourself on how to find the information again so you can update your packet easily.

If you are self-employed or have irregular or non-wage income, you may need additional documentation

Requirements vary from lender to lender and depending on your specific situation. Share your situation when you meet with loan officers or a housing counselor and ask what kind of documentation you need.

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Visit our sources page to learn more about the facts and numbers we reference.

The process and forms described on this page reflect mortgage regulations that apply to most mortgages.