Linda Mallia knows lending. The president of Hunt Mortgage, Mallia has spent more than 25 years dealing with prospective homeowners who are attempting to secure financing. She’s seen dreams realized, and she’s seen them shattered. As her experience and status would suggest, Mallia has a firm grasp of what those looking for loans will need.“The first thing you do is present a lender with a picture of your financial situation – your income, your assets and your liabilities,” she said. To show income, tax returns and W-2 forms suffice, while assets are represented by the funds you’re using for the purchase.“As far as liabilities, they’ll have a credit report,” said Mallia. “The only additional documents you’d have to bring involve alimony and child support, should those items be relevant.” Lenders are looking for patterns - substantial proof that obligations can be met. “They look for stability,” Mallia said. “Overall, they want to see five years of solid income, two years back and three years forward.” For those just starting careers, alternative documentation can serve the purpose. “If you don’t have two years, if you’re a recent college grad, they’ll look at your transcripts and diploma,” Mallia explained. A candidate’s credit history comes into play when figuring out what kind of downpayment will be required. “Downpayments can vary with your credit score,” said Mallia. “Usually, for FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans, you’ll put 3.5 percent down. With VA (Veterans Administration) loans, it’s 0 down, and the seller is allowed to pay all of your closing costs. A lot of veterans don’t know they’re eligible for that benefit.“I’ve seen veterans, literally, where they only need $50, or $75, to move in.” Don’t get the wrong idea. Having just a few bucks to your name won’t get you a mortgage. “Most of the time, the lenders want to see that you have at least one month of cash reserves,” Mallia said. Closing costs, what a buyer needs to finalize the transaction, are based on how much is being borrowed.“Closing costs generally run about 3 or 4 percent of the loan amount,” Mallia said. “If you’re buying a foreclosure, you’re going to pay for the search and survey.” “With a foreclosure, you don’t get anything,” added Carol Flaherty, of the East Aurora law firm, Di Filippo ， Flaherty. “The buyer pays for everything, including transfer tax.” The title search, or abstract, ensures that the seller is the legal owner of the property and that there are no outstanding liens or claims. A survey is a map or drawing detailing the property’s legal boundaries, the location of improvements, rights of way, easements, encroachments and other physical features. “An abstract is the title search of the property. It’s required to make sure there’s no breach in the chain of title,” said Flaherty. “It goes from the first landowner, forward.“The survey maps out the legal description of the property. Sometimes, there’ll be discrepancies between the deed and the survey, especially when it’s farm property. The survey makes sure what you’re conveying matches.” It’s the buyer’s attorney who helps bring things to a close. “The buyer’s attorney works with the client and the realtor,” Flaherty said. “The first thing I do is look at the contract. You have to explain to the client what’s expected of them. And as a buyer’s attorney, my job is to coordinate everything and get it to closing.” Once the closing has taken place, the borrower’s main obligation is making loan payments. “The schedule (for mortgage payments) is monthly, but there are products that are biweekly,” Mallia said. “With those, you make half a payment every two weeks. They have their value, but not if someone is charging you a premium or a fee. Generally, don’t prepay your mortgage. Pay your higher-interest things, like credit cards, first.” What determines what you pay each month? “Predominantly, the interest rate and the tax on the property determine your payment,” explained Mallia. “You make a mortgage payment, and a month’s payment on the taxes. In Erie County, we prepay the taxes.” It may be hard to believe, but not all buyers make mortgage payments, whether it’s monthly, biweekly or whatever. “There are people that pay cash, but I don’t interact with them,” Mallia said. “There is a segment out there. In Buffalo, it’s not a large portion of the population, but there are some here.” Dave Lukow is a freelance writer from Williamsville, who is also the online news editor for Poker Pro Magazine.