C&F University: your source for all things mortgage related.
Need more information before making the next step on your home financing journey? C&F Mortgage is focused on helping all homebuyers navigate the home financing journey with ease. We’ve built robust tools and resources to allow you to expand your mortgage knowledge and build home financing confidence. Did you know you could have as low as a 0% down payment to buy a home? Learn more >>>
Start your mortgage education journey here.
Home Financing Process
After the Loan Closes
Products and Programs
Mortgage Interest Rates
Home Financing Process
We are focused on you and helping you navigate your home financing journey. Below is a snapshot of the process:
1. Contact your C&F local industry expert
Meet with a C&F loan officer either online or in-person and submit your mortgage application. After initial review, you will then be pre-qualified for a mortgage loan.
2. Find your dream home
During this period, your C&F loan officer can provide estimates for homes you may be interested in while you work with your real estate agent to find the right home.
3. You’ve got a contract!
Once you are under contract we will regroup, update
any expired documents and discuss your initial loan disclosure package.
After your disclosure package has been signed, your loan will move to processing where information will be gathered to submit to underwriting. Services, such as an appraisal and title, will be ordered. During this time, your interest rate will likely be locked in and you will receive a Loan Estimate.
The underwriting department will decision your loan and will likely be conditionally approved, meaning it’s approved as long as certain criteria are met. Your C&F loan officer and processor will contact you to collect any additional documentation needed for underwriting conditions and resubmit your loan for final approval if necessary.
Once your loan is through underwriting, it will move to our closing department. Our closer and your settlement agent will work on preparing your final figures. You will receive a closing disclosure to sign no later than 3 business days prior to closing.
7. Congratulations! You now own your home!
On the day of closing, you will sign your closing package and get the keys to your dream home!
Who’s involved in the mortgage process?
There are many professionals focused on your homebuying success.
Your loan officer is typically your first point of contact and provides all of the information you need to know about different mortgage programs.
He or she has the knowledge you need to know to make an informed decision on such a big purchase and can help you pick the loan program that best fits your needs. This person will help you get started on your mortgage application and walk you through the process from beginning to end. Your loan officer is generally your main point of contact and is there to answer any questions that arise during the homebuying process.
Real Estate Agent
Finding a great real estate agent is an important part of your journey to homeownership, as you’ll want to find someone who is as committed to your home search as you are!
Good agents will not only facilitate the buying process but can help guide you in the decision-making process in an unbiased way. Your agent will also collaborate with your loan officer to keep the process running smoothly.
Your loan officer will hand off your completed mortgage application to the loan processor, whose job is to confirm all documents have been collected.
If something is missing or incomplete, the processor will reach out to you to finalize all parts of the application before submitting it to underwriting.
The appraisal process is a very important part of the homebuying journey, as this determines how much the home is worth based on comparable sales in the area.
An appraiser will analyze the house and review the quality and condition of the interior and exterior. Then, the appraiser will look at similar homes that have recently sold and use a Uniform Residential Appraisal Report to generate a recommended value for the home. This number is important because the lender can only lend up to a certain percentage of the home’s value
Another important step of the homebuying journey is the home inspection.
An inspector carefully checks the home’s interior and exterior systems and structures to make sure everything is in working order and points out potential risks and repairs that may be costly. In many cases, the inspection report is dealt with directly between buyers, sellers, and their respective agents – but if it turns out to be a significant issue, the loan officer may get involved and require repairs to be completed before the transaction is complete.
The underwriter is the contact who receives the final, completed mortgage application from the processor.
It’s his or her job to review the application with a fine-toothed comb. The underwriter will use your financial history and application details to determine your creditworthiness and if you can afford the home you’re planning to buy. The underwriter may request more information from a borrower to make a final determination.
Once your application has made it through underwriting successfully, it moves along to the closer.
He or she will review everything, coordinate the closing process and send everything to the title company for closing day. You should also receive your closing disclosure during this process, which will reflect the final costs of the entire mortgage.
A title company is responsible for researching the title of the home you’re buying and making sure there are no issues that could prevent the home from being transferred into your name.
Often, settlement agents work for the title company, which helps the process remain smooth from start to finish.
The settlement agent is the person responsible for actually completing paperwork that will transfer title and ownership from seller to buyer. He or she is typically the last step in the mortgage process and will record all paperwork after closing to ensure that ownership has been officially transferred.
After the Loan Closes
There are certain logistics you will need to be aware of as it relates to homeownership. This can vary by each individual’s needs, but below we’ve compiled some high level items for you to think about:
Set up utilities
- Electric / Gas
- Water & Sewer
- Cable & Internet
- Garbage & Recycling
- Security system
- Phone service
Transition to your new address
- USPS mailing address
- Financial agencies (Bank, credit card companies, third party transaction institutions)
- Government agencies (IRS, Social Security Administration, State Tax Agency, Voter registration, DMV)
- Your employer
- Loan providers
- Insurance companies
- Medical providers
- Subscription services
- Clubs or organizations
What makes up credit?
- Payment History 35% 35%
Making payments on time is essential for building a high credit score
- Amount Owed 30% 30%
- Length of Credit History 15% 15%
The longer your credit history, the better – this is one instance where student loans can be a benefit to you
- Credit Types 10% 10%
- New Credit 10% 10%
What is credit?
In short, credit means receiving something of value at present while promising to pay for it later over time. In most cases, paying your debt back over time will include some type of finance charge by the lender, in the form of interest. Credit can provide the opportunity to have things that otherwise may be out of reach if they cannot be paid for in full.
Everyone has a credit score, which is a measure of how creditworthy an individual is. Credit agencies keep track of your payment history, debt, the number of accounts open, and more to calculate a number, which becomes your credit score. The range is between 300-850, and the higher your score, the more creditworthy you look to a lender.
What is considered a “good” credit score?
The higher your score, the better when it comes to showing your credit-worthiness! According to FICO, the biggest source of credit scores, the scoring model looks like this:
- Exceptional: 800+
- Very Good: 740-799
- Good: 670-739
- Fair: 580-669
- Poor: 579 and lower
How do I check my credit?
The three main reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) only record a score if the report shows activity within the last two years.
You can check by going to Annualcreditreport.com or visit the bureaus:
- Experian Experian.com/reportaccess
- Transunion Transunion.com/credit_services
- Equifax Equifax.com/FCRA
Why can my mortgage credit score differ from other credit reporting companies?
While the credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) all use a similar scoring model, they can vary slightly and are based on a specific snapshot in time. Since a mortgage is a significant investment with more risk when it comes to delinquency, C&F Mortgage will pull all three bureau credit scores on the borrower and use the middle of the 3 scores if all 3 repositories have a report, and the lower of if only 2 have a report.
How can I increase my credit score?
- Make payments on time. As the most significant factor of your credit score, it’s critical to ensure you’re making timely payments on all of your accounts owed. If you have a hard time remembering deadlines, set a calendar reminder – or better yet, set up automatic payments!
- Keep your utilization ratio low. It’s important to keep your utilization below 30%, but the lower the better in terms of building your score. Try to pay off your credit cards in full each month to keep this ratio as low as possible.
- Keep some accounts open. Your credit history is an integral part of your score, so the longer you’ve had credit established, the better. If you have an older credit card that you’ve paid off, it’s sometimes better to keep it active by charging a small amount and paying it in full each month than it is to cancel the account.
- Diversify your credit. Try not to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Don’t open up a handful of credit cards and call it a day – try to build your credit across multiple avenues, including a credit card, an auto loan, a personal loan, etc. Choose a few that work for you and focus on nurturing them.
- Don’t open too many accounts at once. For example, it may be tempting to open up store credit cards to get a discount on your purchase but think about the long-term impacts. Not only do these hard credit inquiries negatively impact your score in the short term, but opening up too many lines of credit can tempt you to spend money you don’t necessarily have on hand. If you do plan to make a big purchase, such as a vehicle or a home, you won’t be penalized for shopping around, so long as all of the inquiries are made within a short period.
I don’t have credit. How do I establish credit?
Starting from square one? Here are a few pointers:
- Get a secured credit card. This type of card is backed by a cash deposit made upfront and allows you to make purchases, pay your balance on time and incur interest for any balances not paid in full
- Become an authorized user. If you have a family member who can add you to an existing credit card, the payment history will be added to your credit file
- Take out a credit-builder loan. The money is typically held by a lender and released when the loan is repaid in full
- Get a co-signer. If you have someone willing to take out a credit line alongside you, you will both be responsible for ensuring the debt is repaid in full
Frequently Asked Questions
How much do I need for a down payment?
The most frequently asked question when buying a home is usually “How much down payment are we going to need?” You may hear you need 20% of the purchase price but you can actually buy your home by putting as low as 0% down with certain program options. Call your C&F loan officer for loan programs that offer low down payment options.
How can I help ensure a smooth loan process?
- Keep the lines of communication open with your loan officer.
- Respond quickly to requests for additional information or documents.
- Be assured that we do not ask for more than is absolutely necessary based on current mortgage loan requirements.
- Advise your loan officer immediately of any change to your financial profile: job change, additional debts, credit inquiries, etc. Serious consequences may result if you sign final closing documents without doing so.
Why does the APR differ from the interest rate?
In addition to the interest rate, the APR also includes other costs like prepaid interest and mortgage insurance, as well as other fees. As a result, the APR is usually higher than your interest rate.
What is a Loan Estimate?
A Loan Estimate is a three-page form that you receive within three business days of your loan application.
The Loan Estimate discloses important details about the loan you requested, including monthly payments, estimated cash to close, and a detail of the closing costs involved in the transaction.
What is a Closing Disclosure?
At least three business days prior to closing you will receive a Closing Disclosure, which is a five-page document that gives you the final details of your loan. It outlines how much you are paying in fees and other costs to obtain your mortgage.
Can I become a homebuyer even if I have had some previous issues with my credit and/or do not have much for a down payment?
It is certainly possible. Please contact your C&F Loan Officer for a detailed analysis of your particular situation.
What is included in my monthly mortgage payment?
- Principal: the repayment of the amount you actually borrowed
- Interest: payment to the lender for the money you’ve borrowed
- Homeowner’s Insurance: a monthly amount to insure the property against loss from fire, smoke, theft, and other hazards
- Property Taxes: the annual city/county taxes assessed on your property
- Mortgage Insurance: a monthly amount to insure the loan against a borrower defaulting. (not always required)
What does MI mean?
Mortgage insurance is usually required on a conventional loan any time that the down payment is less than 20% of the sales price (or the appraised value if the appraisal is lower than the sales price) of the property. Premiums vary based on the amount of down payment and credit scores. Higher coverage is required with a lower down payment to address the greater risk. This insurance protects the lender should you default on the loan and it’s required by the investor. On an FHA loan, it’s automatically required upfront and monthly.
What are closing costs and how can I anticipate what they will be?
Closing costs typically range between two to five percent of the purchase price of your house. You will receive a Loan Estimate outlining these costs within three days of your completed loan application.
What does it mean when you “lock in” a rate?
Mortgage interest rates can change daily and sometimes hourly. If your rate is locked, your rate will not change from the lock in date to the closing date as long as you close within the specific time frame and there are no changes to your loan application.
What is an escrow account?
Lenders put a portion of your monthly mortgage loan payment into an escrow account to cover your homeowner’s insurance, flood insurance if applicable, and your property taxes. When these payments are due, the loan servicer pays them from your escrow account on your behalf.
What is a fixed rate mortgage loan (FRM)?
A fixed rate mortgage carries the same rate for the term of the mortgage loan. The interest rate and term are fixed at the start of the mortgage loan. The monthly amount for the payment of principal and interest will not change during the term of the mortgage loan, regardless of market conditions.
What are points and should I pay them?
Points and discount points are the same thing. They are percentage points of the loan amount. They are an elective fee that you may choose to pay at the time of closing. They reduce the interest rate that you pay. Your C&F Loan Officer will help you look at the options.
What is title insurance?
Title insurance is a policy that guarantees the accuracy of the title work done on your home at the time of purchase or refinance and is provided by the title company. As a buyer, you are required to purchase a lender title insurance policy, which only protects the mortgage company, as part of your standard closing costs. You can choose to purchase an owner title insurance policy, which would protect you against any loss in the event of any legal issues relating to the title of your home.
To provide you with an accurate pre-qualification and process your loan application, your C&F Mortgage local industry expert will ask you for a variety of documentation. Below is a basic list of items so that you can be prepared. Please note different programs require varying documentation. The majority of this documentation is automatically captured by our intuitive online application: C&F Express.
- Photo ID
- Past 2 years of tax returns with all schedules and W-2 statements (not always required)
- Pay stubs covering the last 30 days
If you move forward
- Most recent transaction summary of 401(k), IRA, or Mutual Fund Accounts
- Photocopies of any stocks or certificates of deposit
- Copy of the purchase and sale agreement
- If you are currently renting: either 12 months of canceled rent checks or the name and address of your current landlord
- If divorced: a fully executed divorce decree
- For a refinance: a copy of the deed and most recent tax bill
- A letter of explanation for any known credit problems
For borrowers who are self-employed, employed in sales, paid by commission, or rental real estate owners
- 2 years of signed personal tax returns, including all schedules
- If self-employed through a corporation, last two years of corporate returns as well as a year-to-date profit and loss statement and balance sheet
Use these handy resources to determine your anticipated homebuying costs, based on the interest rate, down payment, and the other variables of your unique situation.
Products and Programs
We provide the best financing options to meet your specific goals. We are equipped with the right loan solutions and years of industry expertise to enable us to exceed your expectations. Your C&F local industry expert will explain these products in detail and help you determine which loan is best for your individual situation. We specialize in first-time homebuyers and have low-to-no down payment options available so you can take the stress out of home financing.
Mortgage Interest Rates
Interest rates fluctuate daily, sometimes hourly. The best way for you to obtain your ideal rate is to reach out to a C&F local industry expert.
What is a Mortgage Interest Rate?
When you buy a home and get a mortgage through a lender, you’ll be expected to make monthly payments to ‘repay’ the sum that you borrowed. A mortgage interest rate is a percentage of this sum or loan balance that is paid to the note holder along with your principal payment. Interest rates, like the stock market, fluctuate daily and will also vary based on your individual financial situation (see below). Lenders often get the question, “what are today’s mortgage rates?” With so many variables that go into the rate, it can be difficult to provide a specific rate before fully understanding your specific financial situation and needs.
What does APR mean?
While your mortgage interest rate is a percentage of the amount borrowed, your APR (annual percentage rate) is a more complete representation of the costs to borrow money and is based on the interest rate, points, and other costs associated with your loan. For these reasons, it is typically higher than your mortgage interest rate. You can find this number in the ‘Comparisons’ section of your loan estimate.
What determines my interest rate?
While overall interest rate ranges are based on what’s happening in the economy, the actual rate you’re given is based on multiple factors related to your financial background. Generally, having a strong financial history leads to a more favorable interest rate. Here’s what goes into your rate:
- Credit Score. Your credit score is used to determine how reliable you’ll be in repaying your loan. A higher credit score generally leads to a lower interest rate.
- Loan-to-Value Ratio. Your LTV is calculated by dividing your loan balance by the home’s appraised value. Typically, the lower your LTV, the better your interest rate since you’ll have more equity in the home.
- Loan Term. There are several options when it comes to repayment terms and while a 30-year mortgage tends to be the most popular, a 15-year mortgage often comes with lower interest rates. In general, a shorter term will provide you with a lower rate, but keep in mind that your overall payment will be higher since you’re paying off the balance in a shorter amount of time.
- Loan Type. With many loan programs to choose from, you’ll find that interest rates vary somewhat depending on which option you select. Some of the most popular options include Conventional, FHA, VA, and USDA loans.
Should I always go with the lowest rate?
As part of shopping around for a mortgage, you’ll notice that interest rates vary amongst lenders. While it may be tempting to automatically choose the option with the lowest interest rate, it’s important to pay attention to all of the numbers in your loan estimate when choosing a lender. For example, the interest rate may be lower, but what if the APR is higher or the closing costs are significantly more? You’ll find that sometimes a lower interest rate isn’t the best option after all! Sometimes the lower interest rates are offset by other costs, meaning you may end up paying equivalent or more when all is said and done.
Why You Should Obtain Your Credit Score from a...
Adjustable Rate Mortgage 101 When buying a home,...
Buy or Build? How to Weigh Your Options If...