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Congratulations, you've decided to buy a home!
| Apply for a Loan | Pre-Approval vs Pre-Qualify | Mortgage Loan Terms | Down Payment and Closing Costs | Loan Officers Job

There are just a few basic steps in the process.

  1. Unless you have cash for the full purchase price, the first step in the home buying process is getting Pre-Approved for a mortgage loan. You should first contact a good licensed mortgage loan officer who has the knowledge, experience, and a complete range of mortgage products to assist you - like us! Once the mortgage lender gets you Pre-Approved, then you can meet with a Real Estate Agent to start looking at your dream home.

  2. Start working with a Real Estate Agent to look at homes

  3. Make an offer, offer accepted

  4. Your lender processing the application, gets an appraisal, final underwriting, etc.

  5. Closing, and enjoy your new home

I provide home borrowers with an easy to follow, step by step guide (that can be downloaded now FREE) that explains the entire home buying process. From finding a Realtor, financing options, making the offer, and finally closing the deal. I can also show you some tips and tricks on how to roll the closing costs into the loan, saving most people at least $5000 - $7000 of out-of-pocket expenses. I've been doing this for over 20-years, with thousands of happy clients.  I really like to add you to that list by giving you a process that is simple, stress free, and with no surprises at closing.

It is easy to get started, just call me directly at 651-552-3681 to set an office appointment, or to take an application over the phone. You can always apply online at anytime.  There are no obligations for us to review an application


If you are planning on seeing Realtors and potentially making an offer on a home, it is essential that you get "pre-approved". This is very different from "pre-qualify".

APPLY FOR A MORTGAGE LOAN - There are three basic application options

  1. Set up an office appointment.  We have appointments from 9:00 AM until 5:30 PM Monday through Friday in our St Paul, MN Office

  2. Using this web site you can either apply online (most popular), or download the mortgage application forms and scan of fax them it to us.

  3. For faster service, all it takes is a 15 minute phone call to (651) 552-3681

Then you can walk into any Realtor's office with a letter stating that you can close a given deal. This will get the attention of the Realtor, it will get the attention of the seller, and it will mean that you can close quickly. This is very important for properties for which the seller has multiple offers. I have seen my client's offers accepted even though they were $3,000 less that other offers because they knew they were fully pre-approved from a local reputable lender like Mortgages Unlimited.


Your Mortgages Unlimited Loan Officer will review your loan application for loan basic quaifications by reviewing credit, income, debt, money for down payment, etc.  They will need to review your pay stubs, tax returns, W2's, bank statements, and possible more, depending on your personal situation.

From there, we can identify what loan programs you qualify for, how much house you can afford, what interest rates might look like, what ballpark monthly payments might be, and finally, how much money you may need to pull it all together

Each person has different needs, and a different situation, but your loan options really depend on three main factors: 


Part of the review process is determining loan program options. From your basic loan like standard conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA rural housing loans.  From there a good Loan Officer will also look sub program that go along with the main mortgage program, like down payment assistance programs, first time home buyer programs, and even various state, city, and county home buyer incentive programs (HIP).


About 82% of all Mortgage Loan Officers are NOT licensed, and are simply registered Loan Officers. Think of these people as more like just an application clerk. The remaining 18% of Loan officers are fully LICENSED. When you are dealing with what is probably the largest financial transaction of your life, it is very important to work with the right Loan Officer. We have a great article here on how to tell the difference between a low level application clerk and a fully licensed loan officer.


You need to understand three basic terms to follow the rest of this:

1) LOAN-TO-VALUE (or LTV). This is the loan amount as a percentage of the purchase price or appraised value (whichever is less). If you are buying a $150,000 home with $15,000 down payment you have a 90% LTV. Loans over 80% LTV (less than 20% down) typically require PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).

2) HOUSING ONLY RATIO This is your total monthly housing expense (principle, interest, tax, insurance, and PMI and homeowners dues, if applicable) divided by your gross monthly income ("gross" = pre-tax income). If you have a "W2" job your income is easy. If you are self employed, commissioned, or get 1099's,  note your gross income is what you bring from your Schedule C onto line 12 of your 1040. Also, a 2 year history of consistent self-employment income is necessary.

3) TOTAL DEBT RATIO This is your total monthly obligations (PITI above) plus your monthly payments of your installment and revolving debt (credit cards, car loans, student loans, etc.). Utility payments (gas, electric, telephone are not counted). Some details here: this would include child support, alimony or separate maintenance.


Your income, debt ratio, and credit all combine to determine the size loan you can qualify for, and how much cash you will need to pull it all together.

You need cash to buy a house for three items:

1) Earnest money.  When writing your offer, you will need to include some earnest money. This is sometimes called "good faith" money. Sellers require it because they want you to have some skin in the game, and if they accept your offer, then you back out, they can keep your earnest money for wasting their time.  Typical earnest money for most homes is $1,000 minimum.

2) Down payment - The actual down payment required depends on what program you are using. 5% down typically gets you the best rates and program options. 20% down is usually the minimum required to avoid mortgage insurance. We have great low down payment and no down payment programs too:

3) Closing costs. When you buy a home, not only do you have a down payment to worry about, but there are also closing costs that are charged by everyone involved in the transaction to close the deal. Everything from from credit reports, appraisal costs, title company fees, state taxes, and lender charges.

You need to cover your one time pre-paid items. These include days of interest from the day of closing until the end of that same month, getting your first years home owners insurance policy, and paying pro-rated property taxes on the home you are buying.

Click here for a more detailed example of real closing costs that you should expect on all mortgages, with all lenders. Also be advised that a lot of mortgage companies are being very sneaky in how they quote your closing costs. Read "Beware of the Bad Good Faith Estimate" so you don't get taken. (FYI: On VA loans, it is zero down payment. You still have closing costs! Call for details on how you can sometimes buy with no out of pocket expense).

4) Reserves. Your lender does not want to see a loan application the shows that when you close the deal you will have $5.99 left in the bank They usually want to see 2 months of your full new house payment left over after closing.  Some loans even require more. Don't try to minimize this. Make sure that you get together all of the cash necessary to close. (Again, understand that none of this is etched in stone. Its just a general guideline. We have many programs that do not require any reserves. Call for details.)

You can pay for closing costs and pre-paid items a few different ways.

  1. Pay them out of your own pocket

  2. Roll them into the new loan, which is called seller paid closing costs.

  3. Roll them into a slightly higher interest rate

  4. Some sort of down payment or closing cost assistance program (like MHFA)

  5. Any combination of all these ways ways

OK, NOW WHAT? Finalizing the deal

With all this application information, the Loan Officer will zero in on the best loan program for you, and discuss the maximum loan amount you can qualify to receive.

Generally, if you have excellent credit you can buy a home with very little (3.5%) or maybe even nothing down (VA loans or USDA Loans). As your credit score declines your maximum loan-to-value will decline and your ratios will have to be lower. If your credit is terrible, most bad credit loans have gone away. But, before you think you can't buy a home, visit our bruised credit information page to learn what is or isn't available to you today!

ZERO down payment was all the rage a few years ago, but it too has pretty much disappeared except for VA loans, and USDA Rural development loans. Although ZERO down may sound good, it is often NOT the best way to go. To get your best interest rates, plan on putting down a minimum of 5% of your own money.

The best advice I can give young people just thinking about this is to keep absolutely perfect credit. Once you get out of college your credit score is like your SAT was before you got into college. It is the key to opportunity. Remember if your credit is bruised, you probably still qualify for a mortgage. Don't assume you can't buy a house because of a few late payments on a credit card. Each situation is different. Call right now to discuss your personal situation.

Click here for more information on the actual loan process.
Click here for
10 Tips to a Smooth Closing
Click here for
10 Mistakes to Avoid

Local Service - Nationwide Power
Maple Grove, MN based and part of Lenders One, a national alliance of Mortgage Bankers.
As a lenders One partner, we are rated part of the 3rd largest lender in the country, with over 300,000 loans originated, and $30 Billion dollars in closed volume.

FHA Approved Lender
We are an FHA, VA, and USDA Approved Lending Institution.
While we are an approved lender, we are not part of HUD, FHA, The Department of Veteran Affairs, nor the Department of Agriculture. We are not acting on behalf of, or under the direction of HUD/FHA or the Federal Government. FHA and VA do not lend directly to the public, only through approved lending institutions like Mortgages Unlimited.

  Equal Housing Lender

Policies, Procedures, Disclaimers

33 Wentworth Ave E - Suite 290
St Paul, MN 55118

(651) 552-3681  

Member in Good Standings, National Association of Mortgage Brokers
Member in Good Standings, Minnesota Mortgage Association

Our services available only for properties located in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota. PLEASE DO NOT KEEP US A SECRET from your FRIENDS. Licensed as Mortgages Unlimited, Inc. Nationwide Mortgage License # 225504. Joe Metzler NMLS Originator Lic # 274132. As a Lenders One partner, we are part of the 3rd Largest Retail Mortgage Originators in the country. We are consistently ranked as one of the top mortgage lenders in Minnesota by Minneapolis St Paul Business Journal. Any use or duplication of any materials is  strictly prohibited.  All images, text, and materials Copyright 1998 - 2019 Joe Metzler. This is the private web site of Joe Metzler, NMLS #274132. All Rights Reserved.

Serving all of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota, including Minneapolis, St Paul, Eagan, Apple Valley, Burnsville, Savage, Shakopee, Chaska, Eden Prairie, Wayzata, Minnetonka, Plymouth, Edina, Bloomington, St Louis Park, Hopkins, New Hope, Crystal, Golden Valley, Robbinsdale, Maple Grove, Rogers, Anoka, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Fridley, Blaine, Roseville, Hugo, Maplewood, White Bear Lake, Oakdale, Woodbury, Stillwater, Hastings, Farmington, West St Paul, Inver Grove Heights, Rosemount, Rochester, Duluth, St Cloud, Marshall, La Crosse, Austin, Owatonna, Kasson, Dodge Center, Zumbrota, Winona, Worthington, Wabasha, Albert Lea, New Ulm, Ely, International Falls, Moorhead, Bemidji, Worthington, Redwood Falls, Alexandria, Fergus Falls, Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Superior, Green Bay, Huron, Pierre, Aberdeen, Watertown, Brookings, Mitchell, Sioux Falls, Rapid City,