While mortgage underwriters look at a lot of different information to determine whether you\u2019ll qualify for a mortgage, ultimately, it comes down to four things: credit, equity, income, and assets.\r\n\r\nBuying a Home\r\n\r\nThe minimum required down payment when buying a primary home is typically 3.5 percent of the sales price, which will allow you to get an FHA loan \u2013 a great option for first-time homebuyers or anyone who can\u2019t come up with a huge down payment. FHA loans also don\u2019t penalize you with a higher interest rate if you have less-than-perfect credit. Another option is a conventional mortgage. Conventional loans typically require 5 percent to 10 percent down depending on the lender.\r\n\r\nWhen buying a home, keep in mind that you will not only need to have funds for the down payment, but you will also need additional cash for various settlement fees. These can range quite a bit depending on the type of the loan and the area where you are buying; talk to a trusted lender to learn more. The good news is that home loan programs allow you get a credit from the home seller to help pay for these settlement fees, as well as additional costs, like your first year\u2019s taxes and insurance.\r\n\r\nCredit\r\n\r\nYour credit is one of the most important things that will be considered when determining if you qualify for a home loan. It\u2019s also one of the things that most people don\u2019t know a lot about. Your credit history is how a lender will judge the likelihood that you\u2019ll pay them back the money they lend you. To do this, a lender will look at the length of your credit history, how reliably you\u2019ve paid on your loan accounts and if you\u2019re maxed out on credit cards or loans. These are also factors that determine your credit rating or credit score. Your credit score will be used to qualify you for a mortgage and will often determine the interest rate you will be offered.\r\n\r\nCredit scores used for a mortgage range between 350 (low) and 850 (high). A healthy credit score is generally considered to be above 740 and a poor credit score is anything below 600. The higher your credit score, the better the interest rate you\u2019ll likely be offered. For most lenders, the minimum score to qualify for a home loan is 620.\r\n\r\nIn addition to your credit score, lenders will look at items on\u00a0your credit report. They\u2019ll want to see that you\u2019ve\u00a0had accounts open for at least a year and that you don\u2019t have any large outstanding collections or judgments against you. If you have collections or judgments on your credit report, you will usually have to take care of those first before you can get financing (the one exception to this is usually medical bills).\u00a0 The other thing that won\u2019t show up on your credit report, but is verified, is your rental history. Lenders want to see if you\u2019ve had any late rent or mortgage payments in the past 12 months.\u00a0Any\u00a0more than one late payment\u00a0and you\u2019ll have a tough time getting approved.\r\n\r\nIncome vs. Debts\r\n\r\nAnother factor looked at by lenders is your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This is simply your fixed expenses with the new mortgage compared to your gross monthly income (income before taxes are taken out). Lenders typically want to see someone spending less than 50 percent of their gross monthly income on these fixed expenses, which include your mortgage payment, property taxes, association dues, homeowners insurance, car loans, student loans, credit cards and any other fixed payments that would show up on your credit report. Variable expenses like utilities, phone and cable are not included in your DTI.\r\n\r\nEmployment History\r\n\r\nLenders also want to see a good employment history and will verify your past two years of work. It\u2019s much more difficult to qualify for a mortgage if you don\u2019t work a typical \u201cnine to five\u201d job, are part-time or self-employed. For these scenarios, you will need to have been at your job for the past two years and your income will usually be averaged. If you are self-employed, expect to fork over your tax returns, as \u201cstated income loans\u201d are a thing of the past.\u00a0 If you have a lot of different tax write-offs to minimize what you pay Uncle Sam, you may not be able to prove enough income to qualify.\r\n\r\nAssets\r\n\r\nLenders also verify that the funds you will use for your down payment are in a liquid account, like a checking account or savings account. If you like to keep your cash in a pile under your mattress, you may have trouble getting approved for a loan and will need to deposit that cash into a bank account. Lenders need to see where all the funds being used in the transaction are coming from and there is no way to document loose cash.\r\n\r\nSometimes, in addition to the funds, you will use for the down payment, there is an additional requirement that you have cash reserves. This varies from lender to lender and will depend on the type of financing you are trying to get. Reserve requirements are more common if you\u2019re buying an investment property or second home, rather than a primary residence. In most scenarios, the requirement will be two to six months' worth of mortgage payments in liquid reserves.\r\n\r\nIn sum, there are many different factors that go into qualifying for a home loan today. Hopefully, this breakdown will help you figure out where you stand and whether now is a good time to apply for a new home loan. When it comes to obtaining any home financing, make sure you talk to a good mortgage lender who will walk you through all of the specifics.