The Mortgage Process

Unless you plan to pay cash to buy a house, it’s a great idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin looking for properties to purchase. In order to make an offer on a property, you will need a pre-approval letter from a lender, so you’ll have to go through the mortgage pre-approval process one way or another. Our real estate agents in Austin suggest starting the pre-approval process sooner rather than later; it not only gives you buying power, it also helps you narrow down your search.

1. How much will you need to put down on a property & how do different down payment amounts affect your mortgage rate & any PMI (Mortgage Insurance.)
2. What do prospective monthly payments look like for different-priced homes?
3. How do different down payment amounts affect your monthly payment for a specific price point?
Answering these questions helps you determine your price range and gets us off to a great start on your search.

If you would like a referral to a great lender, just let us know.

When looking for a lender, we recommend the following:
  • Go Local!

    Local mortgage bankers rely on referrals to get most of their business, so they have to protect their local reputation. A local loan originator (LO) will be much more motivated to close your loan on time & with little hassle than someone in Hoboken, NJ.
  • Use an LO & bank that specializes in mortgages.

    These types of LO’s are typically 100% commission jobs. So, they’re highly motivated to get you approved & to make sure your loan closes on time.
  • Use someone w/ an online social media presence, specifically with reviews.

    If your lender is rated well on Yelp, Google+, or AngiesList, that the lender will want to protect his/her rating (and hopefully get a new, positive review from you.)
  • Stay away from national retail banks

    Like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, etc… You might already bank w/ a national bank, and it might seem natural to go to them for a mortgage. In our experience, their mortgage departments are typically staffed with lower-paid employees who aren’t heavily incentivized, which means they have little motivation to do a good job for you.

If you’re hesitant to speak with a lender now, you can get started on your own by taking the following steps:
  1. Check your credit score at Typically, you’ll need at least a 660 to qualify (with some exceptions for FHA & VA financing.) The higher your credit score, the better rate the bank will offer you. You’ll get the most attractive rate with a 740+ credit score.
  2. Use an online mortgage calculator or download an app to your phone. Make sure that it calculates Principal, Interest, Taxes, & Insurance (PITI) which is your total monthly payment. Bear in mind that Texas has higher property taxes than most calculators will assume. For Android, we recommend using Karl’s Mortgage Calculator and we recommend the Quicken Loans app (though we strongly recommend against using Quicken Loans.)
  3. Calculate your Debt to Income Ratio (DTI.) This is your total monthly debt load (student loans, car payments, minimum credit cards, etc) divided by your monthly pre-tax income. Your lender will approve you for roughly 50% DTI, so you can add in prospective mortgage payments (PITI) to get an idea of what you’ll qualify for.
As you can see, the mortgage pre-approval process can be a little complicated, which is why we think it’s best to speak with a lender early in the process. We’re happy to help in any way we can! Give us a call at 512-883-5445!
Sources: [1] Credit Karma [2] Bankrate – Mortgage Calculator With Taxes And Insurance [3] Dr. Calculator – Karl’s Mortgage Calculator [4] Quicken Loans Mortgage Calculator App
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2300+ Client reviews!

Working with Meaghan Marks was a great experience! As a first time home buyer, I was oblivious to the process and she helped every step of the way. I would definitely use her again!

Prior to listing my house I was carefully guided on preparing the house to show at its best. We received immediate calls on the listing and sold the house in 2 days. Closing was a breeze. The experience could not have been better.

April was great, she made herself on a Sunday for a viewing and anytime of the day when we had any questions. As first time homeowners, she really helped make the buying process easier than expected. We felt she really wanted to help us get the home we really wanted and we did! She made sure we did everything we needed to get done on our end.

We jumped into the home buying process faster than we expected when the interest rates started to climb and the housing market shifted. April quickly setup viewings and coordinated with us. In the negotiation for the new home, April contacted the seller’s agent and any inspector services needed along the way. She also coordinated with our lender. We closed just 4 weeks after we started looking, and with April the process was simple and efficient. We will absolutely go with April in the future, and we recommend her to anyone looking for an agent.

April was the best!!! When we first spoke I told her that I had a few houses I wanted to look at in the Austin area and she built out a schedule for the day for us to see them all. I then ended up falling in love with one of the homes which would end up being my first house! Being from NC the process to buy a home is very different and April walked me through the process in detail and was there to answer any questions that I had… which were a lot! I was very thankful to have April as my realtor and able to find me my first home which I’m in love with! If you’re looking and want to be taking care of you need to work with April!

I recently had the pleasure of working with Patrick Hallett as my real estate agent, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience. From start to finish, Patrick demonstrated a level of professionalism and expertise that truly sets him apart in the industry.

Patrick’s excellent communication skills stood out immediately. He was not only responsive to my questions but also proactive in keeping me informed every step of the way. Whether it was a quick question or a detailed update on the progress of our purchase, Patrick was always just a call or message away. This level of responsiveness made me feel like a valued client.

His knowledge of the local real estate market was impressive, and he was able to provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the process. I felt like I was in the hands of a true expert.

Patrick’s dedication to his clients doesn’t stop when the deal is done. He’s the kind of real estate agent who genuinely cares about the well-being and satisfaction of his clients. His follow-up after the sale was not only professional but also heartfelt, reinforcing my belief that I made the right choice in working with him.

In conclusion, I would 100% use Patrick Hallett again for any future real estate needs, and I cannot recommend him more. If you’re looking for a real estate agent who is highly knowledgeable, incredibly helpful, and a pleasure to work with, Patrick is the one to call. Thank you, Patrick, for making my real estate journey a smooth and enjoyable one!

This was our first time selling a home and Tyson was incredibly patient with every single question we had about how things were done. Trust me, we had A LOT of questions. He gave us sound input and information to make educated decisions, but at the end of the day it was just that: OUR DECISION. Tyson let us make the calls on pricing, price-cuts, staging, etc. I can’t speak highly enough about Tyson. As friendly as he is, he lived up to his promise of being “a bulldog in negotiations”! He did not accept anything less than what he would’ve accepted for his own home. I truly believe that. There were several times he told agents and unrepresented buyers alike “no” and that their offers were unrealistic or “no, my clients will not entertain that”. Loved it!

Kasey Gilliam did a fantastic job of showing us around Austin and helping us select the right apartment to call home. We were only in town for the weekend and she showed us multiple apartments on the same day to accommodate us, each with their own character. She was extremely responsive and answered all of the questions we asked. We would most definitely recommend working with her if you’re looking to call the Austin area home!

I had the good fortune of meeting Ruth twenty-one years ago when she was my agent and I bought my first house. Her knowledge of Austin communities and surrounding areas was so helpful. Since then, she has been our realtor as we have bought and sold 4 houses. She has also helped us lease one of these houses for over 15 years. She’s very personable, professional, smart and her previous 14 year background in corporate finance and MBA is an asset to her clients. She’s very hard working and meticulous both in buying and selling. Her connections with trustworthy contractors, landscapers, stagers, , handymen, you name it, proved to be a great resource. She provides outstanding service and expertise throughout the entire process. Now that we’ve moved out of state and are looking for a house, we miss her tremendously.

Kasey Gilliam was a delight to work with! Our friends recommended her years after their home purchase and we will be doing the same with any friends or family that move to the Austin area. Kasey was prompt, professional, and direct throughout the whole process. We were working on a tight timeframe to find and close on a house, and Kasey was extremely responsive and helped us rapidly run thru many showings. Kasey helped us greatly filter down our preferences on neighborhoods and home types which was crucial to us quickly finding a home we loved. She helped keep us on schedule for our rapid closing by quickly preparing the various offers/documents/responses to the sellers. Overall we had an amazing experience and would highly recommend Kasey!

We had a fantastic experience working with Kasey Gilliam to buy our home in Austin and regularly recommend her to our friends and coworkers. Kasey has a great eye for details/neighborhoods and a very polite but direct manner of speaking which proved invaluable during our search for houses. She was very direct and honest about the pros and cons of homes we went to see, often finding issues of concern that we may have personally missed without her (like a nearby train that infrequently ran thru the area but she caught on video because she arrived early, or pointing out the possibility of traffic noise when we visited a house in off-peak hours). She was efficient and direct in negotiating and coordinating our closing process, and always promptly responded to our calls and texts when we needed her. Highly recommend Kasey Gilliam for any home purchase or sale in the Austin area!

Kasey and Kim were extremely helpful through the whole search. They were able to find my exactly what I was looking for, and did so before it was even on the market.

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