Mortgages & Creative Financing

The Loan Application: A Complete Checklist of Documentation Investors Need for Approval

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing
12 Articles Written

Last week, we looked at the initial process of filling out a Uniform Residential Loan Application or what people in the business call the "ten-o-three" (Fannie Mae Form 1003).

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Today, we’re going to look at the documentation you need in order to apply for a traditional mortgage loan on that investment property you're going to purchase (or refinance).

After going through the list below, you will most definitely ask yourself, "Why in the world do I need to produce all these documents?" The answer is simple: you're building a case for yourself as a borrower. A bank's underwriter (the person responsible for deciding if you get the money) has their job on the line when they approve a loan. The loan must meet every single guideline put forth by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. These are the buyers of loans, which in turn allow the banks to loan more money.

If a loan doesn’t meet every single guideline, the loan will not be able to be sold to Fannie and/or Freddie, which has everything to do with how a mortgage bank makes money. In other words, every single thing has to be verified or proven these days, so most of this initial documentation will support what you are stating on the loan application.

Last week, I told you that there was a way that most of your loan application can be filled out before you actually meet with your loan originator. The way to do this is to provide your loan originator with all the applicable documents before you actually meet with them. You should produce either clear legible copies or, as I prefer, scanned documents. Loan originators will most likely have to digitize the documents anyway, so if you can take care of this, that’s very helpful.

Related: Confessions of an Ex-Banker: How to Get Your Next Loan Approved, Guaranteed.

Okay, deep breath… here we go.

Standard Documentation

Here is a detailed list of documents that you’ll need to provide to your loan originator when applying for the mortgage loan on your investment property (I’ve again added some anecdotal information for some of the documentation. I’ve also italicized the most common documents. Some of the documentation may not apply to your situation.):


  • Pay-stubs (if a Wage Earner): The two most recent are required. Some folks are paid weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly. It just depends on the individual(s).
  • W2s (if a Wage Earner): The two most recent years are required.
  • Federal Tax Returns (if Self-Employed): All pages and schedules. Some states have income taxes as well, but you don’t need to provide these.
  • Copy of Pension Income Statement (if Applicable): This is a way to document your pension income if this applies to you.
  • Copy of Social Security Awards Letter (if Applicable): If you’re receiving income through social security, this will document your income.
  • Other (Alimony, Child Support, Rental Income, Etc.): If you have any other income, you’ll most likely have to document it.


  • Bank Statements: Provide all pages, even if blank, for the two most recent months for your checking accounts and savings accounts.
  • Retirement Accounts (401k, 403b, IRA, Roth IRA, etc.): If you answered this question on the loan application, then you’ll need to provide the most recent statement for the accounts (all pages).
  • Stock or Bond Statements: If you answered this question on the loan application, then you’ll most likely have to document it. Provide copies of the two most recent statements (all pages).
  • Profit and Loss Statement: If you answered the question regarding the net worth of businesses owned on the loan application, you'll need a current profit and loss statement, showing the net worth of the business.
  • Life Insurance Declaration Page: If you answered the question regarding the face value of your life insurance, you’ll need to document this with the most recent copy of your declarations page of your policy.


  • Driver’s License or State Issued Picture ID: Used to verify your identity. You’re always going to have to provide something like this so provide a clear legible copy of this to your loan originator.
  • Copy of Recent Mortgage Statement for ALL Mortgages: Whether you have a primary residence, second home, or investment property that has a mortgage on it, provide a copy of each most recent mortgage statement to your loan originator.
  • Copy of Hazard Insurance Policy for ALL Real Estate Owned: Provide a clear copy of the declarations page for the hazard insurance coverage on each property you own.
  • Business License: If you're in certain professions, the lender may want to see a copy of your business license.
  • Copy of Your Current Mortgage Note/Contract: Sometimes a lender will ask for this, but not always. So make sure to keep good records of property you own.
  • Copy of the Deed of Trust: Again, sometimes a lender will ask for this, but not always.
  • Divorce Papers: Sometimes a lender will want a copy of your divorce papers, but not always.
  • IRS Tax Form 1099’s: A lender may want to see your 1099 for any income you receive in this fashion. This is often independent contractor work.
  • Lease Agreement: If you currently own rental property, provide a copy of the current lease agreement for each property that is leased.
  • Original VA Certificate of Eligibility and Copy of DD214 or Statement of Service, if ActiveIf you’re a veteran, this may be applicable.
  • Letters of Explanation for Credit Inquiries: Lenders always ask about the last 6 months of credit inquiries on your credit report. If you have any, then you’ll need to write a brief letter of explanation regarding the reason for the inquiry and whether or not any new credit was obtained because of the inquiry. Always sign and date your letters.
  • Letter of Explanation for Large Deposits: If you have a large deposit somewhere on your bank statements (usually anything over $300) that is not your normal income, you’ll need to provide documentation. Sometimes this will require the letter of explanation and a paper trail as to where the money came from.
  • Purchase Contract (Fully Executed): Sometimes you can provide this to the loan originator faster than a real estate agent. If you can, do it.

Related: Trying to Choose The Right Loan? Stop Looking at Just The Rates!

I know for a fact that some of you are saying to yourself, “What the…?” But remember ,this is a detailed list. Not everything may be applicable to your particular situation.

You should note from above that some of the documentation requires “all pages.” When providing documentation (of asset accounts primarily), provide each and every page in the statement, even if it is blank. Most of the statements will let you know what the page number is out of the total number of document pages (i.e. 3 of 8).

A top notch loan originator will pre-underwrite your loan file before submission to the underwriter and do the best job possible to make sure that the underwriter’s job is as easy as possible. This is where experience counts for something. I guarantee you that some originators have very positive open communication with underwriters — so much so that they can get any problems with the loan quickly remedied before they even become an issue.

One of the best ways to get your loan pre-approved, approved with all conditions met, and closed is to be PREPARED. Get all of this information and documentation lined up to begin with, and your loan originator will have a much easier time getting your loan completed for your investment property. Always be quick to respond when asked for any additional documentation by your loan originator. The sooner the documentation turnaround, the quicker your loan can get done.

Next week I’ll detail the “other” questions a good loan originator will ask to give you a proper recommendation in terms of what loan to get and why, as well as some important questions regarding how you like to be served. I call these, “Page 5 questions.” (There are actually only 4 required pages of the loan application.)

After going through this list of documentation for the loan application, can you see why having an experienced loan officer is such a benefit?

What has your experience been in getting a loan? Did you go in prepared with documentation?

Submit your questions and comments below.

Jeff Trevarthen is a mortgage advisor at CrossCountry Mortgage and lends in all 50 states. With 16+ years in real estate finance, Jeff is an expert at coming up with creative loan solutions for all...
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    La Nae Duchesneau Real Estate Investor from Sarasota, Florida
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Hi Jeff, Loved your article. Very informative. I do have a question. I have great credit. Credit score of 823. I also have 12 rental properties (1 is paid for in full) plus my own home mortgage, so a total of 13 mortgages. I can’t even get a bank to look at me. I was trying to get a home equity loan to replace the HELOC that just ended in August. My house is worth $340,000 and I owe $140,000. I am just starting to look into creative financing solutions, but personally can’t believe I cannot get a line of credit on my home with the equity that is already there and my outstanding credit score. Do you have any advice for me?
    Jeff Trevarthen Lender from San Jose, CA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    La Nae, I do have some advice, but I’d need more info. Send me a message and I’ll go into detail. Thanks for the commenting.
    Rick Colquhoun Investor from Clyde, NY
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Irony: My wife and I just did another one of these last night. Our banker was so helpful…a checklist with everything we needed, and yellow highlights on every place we needed to sign. This was the second time in less than 6 months we have applied for a mortgage on investment properties, and while repetitive, you just gotta do it THEIR way. Our biggest hassle last time was their wanting the second page of a bank statement (it said “page 1 of 2” at bottom) when there was in fact no “page 2”. I won’t go into detail of the hassles- just do it THEIR way- forget what you might think is common sense. And be prepared to pay for the appraisal and credit report with completed docs you send back to bank with the prepaid FEDX envelope.
    Jeff Trevarthen Lender from San Jose, CA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Thanks for the comment Rick. You’re right…it’s their way or the highway. Being prepared and responding quickly are the two most helpful things a loan officer could ask for.
    Sunny Suh Real Estate Investor from New York, New York
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Hey Jeff, This is great! Thanks for this, I am in the process of getting an FHA 203b loan and two places asked me for a copy of my social security card and also my last 2 years tax return, even though I am not self-employed. Is this normal? Guess from the previous comments I should do it their way, huh?
    Deanna Opgenort Rental Property Investor from San Diego, CA
    Replied almost 6 years ago
    Maybe a quick way to check to see if what you are telling them is the same as what you are telling the IRS? If I were a lender I’d be a bit concerned if the income numbers you gave me were a lot higher than those you gave the IRS.