The first step in buying a home is to speak to a mortgage lender. But how do you know if you’re ready? Or what questions to ask? We spoke with Ryan Smith, a mortgage lender with Guild Mortgage in Madison, WI, to get his answers for some frequently asked questions.


What does it mean to get pre-approved?  

The term pre-approved should mean that you have submitted all of your documentation and a loan

application for review.  This is an in-depth look at your ability to purchase and should empower you

to shop with complete clarity on your budget.  At Guild Mortgage, we take the pre-approval one

step further to an Underwriting Credit Approval; this allows you to shop with confidence and makes

your offer stronger than others.  This simply means your file has been approved by underwriting

prior to you writing your offer and also allows you to process quickly, if needed. 


My credit score isn’t the best, will this affect my ability to get a loan or my interest rate?

It can in some cases.  We do offer several loans where your credit score will not directly affect your

rate but in some cases, it can.  My advice is to go through the pre-approval process, we will discuss

your credit and provide advice regarding your credit standing.  Sometimes we give some tips that

could help you improve your scores so you can optimize the loan you receive. 

Are loans one-size-fits-all or are there different types? How are they different?  

Loans vary depending on your credit, income, and down payment.  We recommend going through

our pre-approval process so we can analyze your finances and come up with a plan to help you find

a mortgage that is tailored for your needs.  There are loans for almost all situations and we want to

make sure you land with the one that’s right for you and your family. 

Do I need to apply for a mortgage at the same institution I bank at?  

No. It’s in your favor to work with an independent lender who has your best interest in mind and

represents you as opposed to the bank’s interests.  You are will find a more diverse array of loan

options when you look outside of the bank institutions. 

Can all mortgage lenders offer me the same thing?  

No, many lenders offer limited loan product options.  At Guild Mortgage, we offer one of the widest

arrays of loan products to help borrowers from their first home to their forever home and

everything in between. 

What are some things I should look for in a lender?  

I think you want to look for a good fit first and foremost.  Are they efficient, professional, organized,

and do they communicate well?  Find someone you feel you can trust.  Find a professional who is

going to respect your wishes but also provide you with the advice you need.  Too often a mortgage

an be commoditized and it’s a shame as this is the biggest investment most people will ever make. 

Advice matters and you need to feel good about the mortgage team you are working with.  Lastly,

there are a lot of moving parts in obtaining a home loan and you want to work with a team.  My

team is made up of four individuals; our entire focus is to treat each client like they are important

and make them feel well advised and served.  If you do not feel this way about your lender, you

should move on.   

I’m a first time home buyer. What do I need to do to get pre-approved?   

A first time home buyer simply needs to submit a loan application.  This can be done through our

website or via a phone conversation with my Loan Officer Assistant.  A loan application gathers your

basic personal information which allows us to access your credit and analyze your income and

assets.  After you complete a loan application you will be asked to submit all the supporting

documents such as paystubs, bank statements, tax returns, etc. 


I’m interested in purchasing an investment property. What type of loan should I be looking at?  

Most people buying investment properties are using Conventional loans similar to someone buying

an owner-occupied home, they just have different guidelines and down payment requirements.  We

offer fixed-rates and adjustable rate mortgages for these purchases.


I’m interested in building a new home. Can I get a loan for that?  

Yes, you can obtain a construction loan or a “turn-key” loan.  During your pre-approval process, we

would discuss which option is best for you.  A construction loan is where you finance the build and

a turn-key is where the builder finances the construction and you buy the finished product similar

to how you would finance any existing home.


I don’t have any money for a down payment. Can I still buy a house?  

Yes! We offer three different types of No Money Down loans, including WHEDA, VA, and USDA. 

When you work with the right mortgage lender, they can help you navigate tricky situations and get into the home of your dreams. What questions do you have for Ryan Smith? Comment them below!



Ryan Smith, NMLS #287314

Producing Branch Manager

17 Applegate Ct. Ste 100
Madison, WI 53713

O: 6082345117 | M: 6085133942


Guild Mortgage Company is an Equal Housing Lender; Company NMLS #3274. Guild Mortgage is not affiliated with EXIT Realty HGM.