Here are 10 steps to take when securing a home mortgage

For first-time homebuyers, the entire homebuying process — filled with moving parts and a long list of details both large and small to sort out — can be a bit overwhelming. This can be especially true when it comes to the thought of applying for a mortgage. For most people, this is one of the biggest steps on the path to making an investment that will be one of the biggest of their entire lifetime.

But when working with an experienced, local lender and receiving guidance from friendly mortgage professionals like the loan officers at Arthur State Bank, the process can be made a lot easier to understand and can go much more smoothly. If you’ve been thinking about taking your first steps toward home ownership, read on to get a better idea of just what you can expect during the Arthur State Bank mortgage-application process.

Key steps in the mortgage-application process

Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of the process involved in applying for and getting a mortgage:

  1. Meet with a mortgage lender to get prequalified: During this initial step in the process, a mortgage professional will gather some of your basic financial information — such as your income, debts, assets, credit history, etc. — then use this information to calculate how large a mortgage loan you qualify for. Once you’ve been pre-qualified for a mortgage loan, you’ll have a better idea of what your home-purchase budget will be. In addition, you’ll be in a stronger position when you’re ready to make an offer, as the home seller will know that you have the financial ability to go through with the purchase.
  2. Find your future home — and make an offer: Now that you’ve got your budget and pre-qualification in place, it’s time to find the home of your dreams! Once you’ve found one that meets all of your needs and are ready to move forward, you’ll make an offer to the seller(s), typically through your real estate agent. Your offer will include your proposed purchase price, along with a proposed timeline for your purchase and any conditions you may require for moving forward, such as any home repairs you would like to have completed before you buy. The seller(s) will review all of their offers, then choose the one that works best for them.
  3. Fill out and submit a mortgage application: Once you’ve had your offer accepted, you’ll need to officially apply for your mortgage loan. When doing so, you’ll be asked to provide a collection of documents that can be used to confirm your income and assets, such as pay stubs, W2s, tax returns, bank statements and other financial documents. If you choose to apply for a mortgage online, you’ll be asked to upload the needed documents during the process. And if you’re applying in person, you’ll need to collect all of the needed documents and provide them to your loan officer. Once all of the needed documents are submitted, your lender will review them, along with other finance-related details such as your credit history, then use this information to determine your ability to repay the loan you’re applying for.
  4. Receive your loan estimate: Shortly after your mortgage application is submitted — typically within three business days — your lender will provide you with a loan estimate. This standardized form will include the estimated amount of your loan, along with the associated interest rate, total closing costs and monthly mortgage payment. Other details provided in the loan estimate include information on what types of taxes you’ll need to pay, what types of insurance you’ll need to obtain, and how your interest rates and monthly mortgage payment may change moving forward.
    At this point in the process, your loan application has yet to be officially approved or denied. If you choose to move forward with the process after reviewing the details provided in the loan estimate, you’ll express your intent to proceed to your lender, and they may ask you to provide additional financial details.
  5. Await home appraisal: Before a decision is made on your loan application, the lender will want to ensure that the home you’re buying is worth what you’re paying for it — because if you ever default on the loan, the lender takes ownership of the property (which serves to secure the mortgage). So, before making a final decision on loan approval, the lender will commission an appraisal, and the appraiser will inspect the home and provide a professional opinion on its value.
  6. Receive loan-approval decision: Once the appraisal is in, the lender will review it and again review your financial details before making a final decision on loan approval. Until the final decision is made, it’s important that you avoid making any major financial expenditures or moves such as making large purchases, opening new lines of credit, leasing a vehicle, etc. This is because these could negatively impact your debt-to-income ratio and put you at risk of not being approved for the mortgage loan. Once the decision is made, your lender will let you know whether or not you’ve been approved for your mortgage loan.
  7. Review the final closing disclosure: Assuming you’ve been approved for your mortgage loan, your lender will provide you with a final closing disclosure to review. This document will provide you with updated and final versions of the amounts that were estimated for your loan, interest rate, total closing costs and monthly mortgage payment in your previously provided loan estimate. Once you receive your final closing disclosure, you’ll have three days (excluding Sundays) to carefully review it and decide whether to move forward with your mortgage loan. This is a good time to ask any final questions you may have and to make sure you have a thorough understanding of all of the fees, terms and financial obligations you’ll be taking on with your mortgage loan.
  8. Sign your documents: The final step before your mortgage loan becomes official, you’ll now be asked to sign all of your mortgage loan documents. You’ll also be required to pay your “cash to close” — which covers closing costs and any remaining costs and fees associated with your mortgage. This payment must be made via Automated Clearing House (ACH), wire transfer, or other certified funds rather than via a personal check to ensure that the funds are available and immediately accessible.
  9. Close on your home: Once you’re done signing your documents and have paid your “cash to close,” your mortgage loan will be funded and you transaction will close at your local attorney’s office. An official record of the sale will be created, and your new home will be officially yours! You’ll be given keys to the home and can typically access it right away.
  10. Enjoy your new home: Congratulations — you’ve now become a new homeowner! You can now move in and do all the things needed to make it your very own home sweet home.

More helpful homebuying resources

Seeking more details about the steps involved in the homebuying process? Check out the First-Time Homebuyers’ Road Map on the Arthur State Bank website today! It offers a rough timeline of the steps involved in the process, along with additional information about each one. And when you’re ready to start a mortgage application, perform a mortgage rate search, find a loan officer, or access a range of other critical information or resources related to the homebuying process, visit the Arthur State Bank Mortgage Web Center.

Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans and more, visit


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Man doing his banking online is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.