Since we are now officially wrapped-up with this year’s “March Madness” college basketball tournament, I thought it would be somewhat appropriate to discuss the betting odds for next year and who are already the early favorites.

I’m just kidding.

Seriously, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, the University of Virginia just won their first men’s college basketball national championship.

However, it was unlikely at the start of the season that many folks successfully predicted Virginia would be playing Texas Tech in the final.

Although this championship match-up may have been easier to envision for some than others, it was probably a big gamble for almost everyone else. There are simply tons of variables involved that you can’t control.

That said, here we go with the connection to the lending world.

Similar to the March Madness tournament, your home buying process also has at times what might feel like an endless number of variables moving around that are beyond your control.

For example, part of the buying process usually involves getting your home loan successfully approved by your lender.

But because you don’t want to gamble away your chances of closing on your new home, you start to wonder what you can do to improve your odds of ultimately receiving a loan approval notification.

Surprisingly, your application could be better than you think if it meets some of the following 10 criteria:

1) If your credit scores are at least 20 points or higher above the minimum required for the loan program you are using to purchase your home.

2) If your debt-to-income ratio is 5 percent or greater below the maximum allowed for the amount of money you are borrowing combined with any debts that you already owe.

3) If your total amount of monthly payment reserves are six months or higher above the minimum required for the loan program that you selected.

4) If you have an overall reduction in your total housing payment by 10 percent or greater.

5) If you have an increase in your residual income by 10 percent or more.

6) If your residual income is $1,000 or higher above the minimum required.

7) If you have zero late payments during your most recent 24-month housing history.

8) If you have been in the subject property for five years or longer.

9) If you have job stability of five years or more.

10) If you have any additional income sources that do not need to be used for qualifying.

You are correct that a few of these things don’t apply to first-time home buyers.

Either way, whether purchasing or refinancing, it’s a good idea to work with your lender to look behind the underwriting curtain every so often.

For instance, residual income calculations by your lender are not required for all loan programs, yet when used to assist with your approval process can help in certain situations.

Therefore, improving your approval odds will save you money!

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Chris Salese can be reached at chris@delsurmortgage.com or 707-363-4439. He is a licensed California mortgage lender (LO NMLS #254469 — CA-DBO #254469 Corp NMLS #1850 Equal Housing Opportunity.