Homeownership FAQs

At Ameris Bank, we understand that your decision to buy a home is one of the most exciting but scary times of your life. But we also know with the right knowledge and understanding of what to expect during the home buying journey, you will be well-prepared to feel confident in the decisions you are making.

What are the real benefits of homeownership?

Being a homeowner will give you a sense of stability and permanence. You will have the flexibility of making home improvements to meet your needs whenever you want. You will never have to deal with raises in rent, and the interest you pay may be deductible from your taxes. Make sure to consult your tax advisor.

How much of a down payment should I make?

Down payments vary and most times, it depends on what you and your Mortgage Banker decide. Remember, the higher the down payment, the lower the monthly mortgage payments. If your down payment is less than 20%, you will be required to get Private Mortgage Insurance.

How much money do I need for a down payment?

This depends on how much you want to pay for the home and how much money you have available. If you do not have much money available, there are government programs created to help first time homebuyers. Ameris Bank offers a variety of mortgage products that can normally accommodate each borrower’s individual needs. Some mortgage programs require less stringent qualification guidelines and others require little to no down payment. In many cases, the money needed for the closing can be incorporated into the loan amount, reducing the amount of money a borrower needs to have on hand to purchase the home.

Difference between applying for a loan and getting pre-qualified?

Pre-Qualification is the amount of a loan you qualify for based on a preliminary analysis of your assets, debts, and sources of income conducted by your Mortgage Banker. This is done before you look for a home. After you have found a home and you are ready to purchase, you will formally apply for a loan and you will be asked to provide documentation such as pay stubs, bank account information, etc.

Are the requirements for condominium purchase the same for house?

Regardless of whether you are planning on purchasing a home or condominium, the documentation needed is the same.

What is a credit report?

A credit report outlines your credit history, showing that you have paid your debts on time, if you have ever made a late payment or if you have failed to make a payment.

What are discount points?

Discount points are the costs to secure a lower interest rate. One point is equivalent to 1% of the dollar amount of the loan. The more points you pay on a loan, the lower your interest rate.

How long does the loan process take?

The loan process normally takes several weeks. During this time, the Mortgage Banker is making sure all obligations related to your home purchase or refinance are complete.

Why should I get a professional inspection?

A professional inspection will identify any existing problems that the home or property might have – major and minor. It is a good idea to be present during the inspection so that you can ask questions and become immediately aware of any existing problems.

What is Closing or Settlement?

The Closing is the meeting when you will sign all of the paperwork and make the payments needed to become an official homeowner. Prior to closing, your title company, escrow company, or attorney will review with you a copy of the Closing Disclosure, the document that provides the final total of your closing costs. This establishes the total funds you must bring to closing. The Closing typically takes 1 – 2 hours because there are many documents that need to be signed prior to receiving the keys. The three most important documents you will sign: (1) the note; (2) the mortgage, also known as deed of trust; (3) the deed.

What types of insurance will I need for the Closing?

You will need to present proof of at least two types of insurance in order to close on your home: (1) Homeowners or Hazard Insurance and (2) Flood Insurance (if applicable). Most lenders require a Lender’s Title Insurance policy, which protects the amount they lent. You may also choose to purchase Owner’s Title Insurance, as this is optional, in the case your lender does not require the policy as a condition for the loan. Additionally, if your down payment is less than 20%, you will also need mortgage insurance (PMI).

What should I do before closing?

Before closing, be certain that all conditions you specified in the sales contract have been met, and prior to signing any documents, make sure that all the information is correct.