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Understanding Conventional Mortgages: A Step-by-Step Guide

Updated: Jun 2

Understanding Conventional Mortgages: A Step-by-Step Guide

Navigating the world of home buying can feel complex, especially when it comes to getting a conventional mortgage. Conventional mortgages, often a preferred choice among homebuyers, are known for their flexibility and range of options. At Bennett Capital Partners Mortgage, we are committed to helping you understand and secure the best conventional mortgage for your needs.

In this detailed guide, we'll delve into the nuances of conventional mortgages, highlighting their advantages and outlining the essential steps required to secure this type of home loan.

Let's dive in and empower your journey, whether you're buying a new home or refinancing an existing one!

Key Takeaways

A conventional mortgage is a type of loan that is not backed or insured by the government.

Conventional mortgages offer benefits such as potentially lower interest rates, flexible terms, and no upfront mortgage insurance premiums.

To qualify for a conventional mortgage, borrowers need to meet income and job history requirements, have a good credit score and debt-to-income ratio, and provide the necessary documentation.

The step-by-step process for obtaining a conventional mortgage includes pre-qualification, lender approval/commitment, meeting conditions for closing the deal, and finally closing on the home.

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What is a Conventional Mortgage Loan?

What is a Conventional Mortgage Loan?

A conventional mortgage is a type of loan that is not backed or insured by the government, such as the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Definition and characteristics

A conventional mortgage, distinct for not being insured or guaranteed by any government agency, is among the most common types of home loans. Lenders primarily focus on specific factors like credit score, income stability, debt-to-income ratio and assets to determine eligibility.

Therefore lenders exercise caution when approving applications for conventional mortgages. Since there's no government guarantee, the lender will attempt to recover the loan amount through foreclosure if a borrower defaults. This foreclosure process involves selling the property, but the lender may not necessarily recover the entire loan amount.

Therefore lenders exercise caution when approving applications for conventional mortgages. Notably, Conventional loan also may demand a sizeable down payment from borrowers which can help reduce overall loan amounts while dodging private mortgage insurance premiums entirely.

Advantages of a conventional mortgage

Conventional mortgages offer multiple benefits, one being potentially lower interest rates for borrowers with high credit scores. Good credit can significantly reduce the life of the loan cost compared to other types of home loans like FHA or USDA loans.

Another advantage is the flexibility these loans provide. Conventional mortgages are available in a variety of terms, ranging from 10 to 30 years, allowing you to choose a payment schedule that fits your financial situation best.

Moreover, conventional loans do not require upfront mortgage insurance premiums if you put down at least 20% on your new home. This could mean significant savings over time as opposed to government-insured loans which often come with such additional costs.

Lastly, there are no property type restrictions on conventional mortgages; whether you want to buy a second home or an investment property, this type of loan may just be the perfect fit for your needs.

Different Types of Conventional Loans to Choose From

 Different Types of Conventional Loans to Choose From

Conventional loans come in various types, each designed to cater to specific home buying situations.

➡️ Conventional Loans: These are standard loans for borrowers with good credit who can make a substantial down payment.

➡️ Jumbo Loans: Ideal for purchasing high-priced properties that surpass conforming loan limits, jumbo loans call for a strong credit score and significant savings.

➡️ Government-insured Loans: These options are perfect for those who may not qualify for conventional loans. They include FHA, VA, and USDA loans. To learn more about the pros and cons of FHA Vs Conventional Loans see our blog post here.

➡️ Fixed-Rate Mortgages: A popular type of conventional loan where the interest rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan.

➡️ Adjustable-Rate Mortgages: Here, the interest rate fluctuates over the years, starting comparatively low but subject to increases or decreases later on.

To learn more about the different types of conventional loans please check out our blog post titled 7 Types of Conventional Loan Programs to Choose From and our blog post Fixed-rate vs adjustable-rate mortgages: which is right for you?

Qualification And Conventional Loan Requirements

Qualification And Conventional Loan Requirements

To qualify for a conventional mortgage, you will need to meet income and job history requirements, have a good credit score and debt-to-income ratio, and provide necessary documentation for approval.

Income and job history requirements

To qualify for a conventional mortgage, lenders typically require applicants to meet certain income and job history requirements. Here are some important factors to consider:

Sufficient Income: Lenders want to ensure that borrowers have enough income to make their monthly mortgage payments. They will evaluate your income sources, such as salary, wages, and self-employment earnings.

Employment Stability: Lenders prefer borrowers who have a stable job history. They may look at the length of time you've been with your current employer and any gaps in employment.

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): Lenders assess your DTI, which compares your monthly debt payments to your gross monthly income. Keeping your DTI low demonstrates financial stability.

Credit Score: While credit score is not directly linked to income and job history, it plays a crucial role in qualifying for a conventional mortgage. A strong credit score can help you secure better interest rates and terms.

Documentation: When applying for a conventional mortgage, be prepared to provide documentation such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements to verify your income and employment history. Explain any job gaps or decreases in income with a Letter of Explanation.

Credit score and debt-to-income ratio

Understanding your credit score and debt-to-income ratio is crucial when applying for a conventional mortgage. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

Lenders consider your credit score to assess your creditworthiness. Aim for a score in the 700s to demonstrate responsible debt management and qualify for favorable rates and terms.

Your debt-to-income ratio is an important factor that lenders use to determine if you can afford the mortgage payments. It is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans accept a maximum DTI ratio of 49.99%. However, a lower ratio is recommended for better chances of approval. Always discuss credit qualifications with a licensed mortgage professional. Qualification may vary for borrowers.

Saving for a down payment not only reduces the loan amount but also helps you qualify for better interest rates and avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI).

Documentation needed for approval

To get approved for a conventional mortgage, you will need to provide the following documents:

Proof of Income: This includes your pay stubs for the past two months, W-2 statements for the past two years, and tax returns for the past two years. If you're self-employed, you'll need to provide additional documentation such as profit and loss statements.

Employment Verification: Lenders will require proof of stable employment. You may need to provide recent pay stubs or a verification letter from your employer. Conventional Mortgages follow guidelines similar to FHA Employment Requirements.

Bank Statements: Lenders will want to see your bank statements from the past two months to verify your assets and ensure you have enough money for the down payment and closing costs.

Credit History: Your lender will pull your credit report and review your credit history. Be prepared to explain any negative items on your credit report and provide an explanation if needed.

ID and Social Security Number: You'll need to provide a valid form of identification, such as a driver's license or passport, along with your Social Security number.

Proof of Down Payment Funds: If you are using your own funds for the down payment, you'll need to show proof of where the funds are coming from, such as bank statements or investment account statements.

Additional Documentation: Depending on your situation, lenders may request additional documentation such as divorce decrees, child support or alimony agreements, or proof of rental income if applicable.

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The Conventional Mortgage Process: Step-by-Step Home Loan Guide

The Conventional Mortgage Process: Step-by-Step Home Loan Guide

Learn how to navigate the conventional mortgage process with our easy-to-follow step-by-step guide. And discover everything you need to know about pre-qualification, lender approval, closing the deal, and more.

Don't miss out on this essential information for first time homebuyers!

Pre-qualification and application

To start the process of getting a conventional mortgage, you'll need to go through pre-qualification and submit an application. During pre-qualification, the lender will assess your financial situation to determine how much you may be eligible to borrow.

This involves providing information about your income, employment history, and debts. Once pre-qualified, you can proceed with filling out the mortgage application. It's important to have all necessary documents ready, such as pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns.

The lender will then review your application and documentation before making a decision on whether or not to approve your loan request.

Lender approval/commitment

To secure a conventional mortgage, you'll need to obtain lender approval or commitment. This is when the lender thoroughly reviews your financial situation and determines if they are willing to lend you the money for your home purchase.

They will consider factors such as your creditworthiness, income stability, debt-to-income ratio, and assets. A higher credit score in the 700s can qualify you for more favorable rates and terms.

It's important to note that lenders may have different requirements and criteria, so it's essential to work with a Broker at Bennett Capital Partners Mortgage who will shop around so you can better compare legitimate offers before making a decision.

During this process, keep in mind that FHA loans are available for borrowers with credit scores as low as 580. However, conventional mortgages often require higher credit scores compared to government-backed loans like FHA or VA loans.

Once you receive lender approval or commitment, you can move forward with other steps in the homebuying process towards closing the deal on your new home.

📞 Give Us A Call Today 1-800-457-9057

Conditions and clear to close

Conditions and clear to close are important steps in the conventional mortgage process. Conditions refer to requirements or documents that need to be fulfilled or provided by the borrower before the loan can be approved and closed.

These conditions may include providing proof of income, employment verification, proof of assets, and documentation for any derogatory credit items. Additionally, lenders may require a satisfactory appraisal of the property and a clear title search before giving the clear to close.

The clear to close status indicates that the mortgage is ready for closing and the funds can be disbursed. Meeting these conditions is crucial for Florida First Time Homebuyers to proceed with their loan and finally close on their dream property without any hurdles along the way.

Closing the deal

Closing the deal on your conventional mortgage is an exciting and important step towards becoming a homeowner. Once you have found the perfect home and secured loan approval, it's time to move forward with closing.

This involves signing all the necessary paperwork, including the mortgage agreement and any other required documents. It's important to review everything carefully before signing, as this is your final opportunity to make sure that you understand and agree with all terms and conditions.

Remember, the average time to close a mortgage is around 30 days, so be prepared for some paperwork and potential last-minute details. However, Bennett Capital Partners with over 20+ years of experience with First Time Homebuyer loans ensures most loans close within 15 business days. With proper preparation and attention to detail, you'll soon be keys in hand for your new home!

Understanding Portfolio Loan Requirements

Understanding Portfolio Loan Requirements

Portfolio loans are an alternative option for homebuyers who don't meet the strict requirements of conventional mortgages. Unlike conventional loans that are sold to secondary market investors, portfolio loans are held by the lender themselves.

This means that lenders offering portfolio loans have more flexibility in setting their own underwriting criteria and terms. They consider factors beyond just credit score and income when evaluating a borrower's eligibility.

Portfolio loans can be a great choice for those with unique financial circumstances or who want to finance non-traditional properties. However, it's important for borrowers to thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of a portfolio loan before making a decision.

Conventional Mortgage vs. Other Types of Mortgages

Conventional Mortgage vs. Other Types of Mortgages

When comparing a conventional mortgage to other types of mortgages, such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans, it's important to understand the differences in qualifying requirements and loan options.

By exploring these distinctions, you can make an informed decision about which type of mortgage is best suited for your specific needs and financial situation. Read more to find out how a conventional mortgage stacks up against other loan options.

Comparison to FHA, VA, and USDA loans

In order to make an informed decision about which mortgage loan is best suited to your financial situation as a first-time homebuyer, it's crucial to understand the differences between FHA, VA, and USDA loans compared to a conventional loan. Below you'll find a comparative table outlining the key features and requirements of each loan type.

Each of these loan types has its own unique advantages and eligibility requirements. Understanding these differences can help you select the most appropriate mortgage option that aligns with your financial profile and home buying needs. It's important to consult with a mortgage professional to further discuss these options and determine the best path for your home buying journey.



In conclusion, understanding conventional mortgages is essential for first-time homebuyers. By knowing the definition and advantages of a conventional loan, as well as the requirements to qualify and the step-by-step process, potential buyers can make informed decisions.

Comparing different types of loans and considering factors like credit score and down payment are important for finding the best mortgage option. With knowledge and careful research, buyers can navigate through the mortgage process with confidence.


How does a conventional mortgage differ from other types of mortgages?

A conventional mortgage is a type of home loan that is not backed by a government agency, such as the FHA or VA.

What are the steps involved in obtaining a conventional mortgage?

The steps to obtain a conventional mortgage include pre-qualification, submitting an application, providing documentation for income and assets, undergoing appraisal and inspection processes, receiving loan approval, and closing on the property.

What are some advantages of choosing a conventional mortgage?

Choosing a conventional mortgage can offer benefits such as more flexible terms and options compared to government-backed loans, potentially lower interest rates for borrowers with good credit scores, and no upfront premium fees like those required by FHA loans.

Are there any disadvantages to getting a conventional mortgage?

Some disadvantages of getting a conventional mortgage include stricter qualification criteria regarding credit scores and debt-to-income ratios, requiring larger down payments compared to FHA or USDA loans, and less lenient foreclosure prevention programs offered by private lenders.

Philip Bennett

Philip Bennett

Philip is the owner and Licensed Mortgage Broker at Bennett Capital Partners, Bus. NMLS # 2046828. He earned his degree in Accounting and Finance from Binghamton University and holds a Master's Degree in Finance from NOVA Southeastern University. With more than 20 years of experience, Philip has been a leader in the mortgage industry. He has personally originated over $2 billion in residential and commercial mortgages.

Learn more about Philip Bennett's background and experience on our Founder's page. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned real estate investor, our team is here to help you achieve your real estate goals. Don't wait any longer, contact us today and let us help you find the right mortgage for your needs.

Discover helpful tips and tricks on mortgages by reading our blog posts

Understanding the Key Difference Between Freddie Mac And Fannie Mae To learn the main differences between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Click here to read the full article

Understanding the Key Requirements for a Conventional Loan: A Comprehensive Guide To learn the key requirements for conventional loans and how you can improve your chances of approval. Click here to read the full article

Renting Vs Buying Calculator: Making The Right Financial Decision For Your Home To see and use our rent vs buy calculator. Click here to read the full article

What is a Non Conforming Loan: A Comprehensive Guide To learn more about financing with non-conforming loans. Click here to read the full article

Spec Home Financing: A Comprehensive Guide for Real Estate Investors To learn more about financing for investment spec home financing. Click here to read the full article


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