Q: What's the first step to take in preparing for the home-buying process?
CR: Come in and talk to us. The sooner we understand your financial situation, the more we can help with the preparation.
Q: What are you looking for in each person's financial situation?
JC: When we look at home ownership, we're looking at "the four Cs." That's your capital, collateral, capacity and credit. Pulling that credit score is one of the very first steps we take.
Q: Do you offer credit counseling if you see a problem?
JC: Even if you have good credit, we'll try to help you make it even better. On credit cards, for instance, we're going to ask you to try and keep them at about 30% of the credit limit. That gives the trending data on the credit report the most bang.
Q: Planning ahead is obviously important when it comes to credit. What about the other C's? Are there other things to keep in mind well in advance of starting the home-buying process?
CR: Definitely, when it comes to capital. We're going to be looking at two months of bank statements. Anything you'll be using for your down payment needs to be what we would consider seasoned funds. If there are any large deposits in those last two months, we'll need to document the source. If someone gave you $1500, for instance, we'll need a gift letter signed. If you sold a boat, we'd need the bill of sale.
Q: What about capacity? Anything important to prepare ahead of time for when it comes to income, other than getting together pay stubs and tax returns?
JC: Yes, that tax return is something you want to pay special attention to if you're self-employed. Remember that we can only use the income that's on your tax return. The amounts you're writing off could affect the amount we can pre-qualify you for as a result of lowering the bottom line on your tax return.
Q: What's the most important thing to keep in mind when preparing your finances?
JC: I'll add another C, for community. Being a true community bank means we're going to sit down and really get to know your financial situation.
CR: And that kind of conversation allows us to help you plan, prepare and get the most from your home-buying experience.