The Investor’s Complete Guide to Filling Out a Successful Loan Application


One of the things I get asked often as a loan officer is exactly what it is that a borrower needs to do in order to be prepared to apply for a traditional mortgage loan when buying an investment property — financing the dream of passive income. The simple answer is: a lot. I’ve been in this business a little over ten years, and I’ve seen credit offered by banks literally come full circle.

Back in the “heyday” of mortgage lending (2002 – 2007), loans were being slung left and right to anyone and everyone. Remember 100% financing? It still exists, but it’s much harder to get. Anybody with a pulse could get a mortgage loan and for whatever reason. And it didn’t really matter whom you got the loan from: licensed or unlicensed, there was no industry standard regarding how you could be a loan officer. Well, obviously that all changed with the financial credit crisis in 2008.

The effects are still being felt today regarding the regulatory changes faced by loan originators and the impact that this has had on your average borrower, not to mention the non-owner occupied investment property buyer. More specifically, as it relates to this audience, the investor looking to finance his/her properties via traditional mortgage financing.

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

Filling out a loan application can get confusing even for the experienced loan officer. My purpose for giving you this massive list of loan application interview questions is not to deter you in your pursuit for traditional financing for an investment property. Rather, I want you to be prepared before you go and talk to your loan originator so you know what to expect in terms of what questions you need to answer. There are no secrets here. This is all standard information.

As you go through the list below, keep the end goal in mind — buying a property with other people’s money (in this case, the bank’s money). You’re leveraging your hard earned cash (err…maybe not hard earned) to produce an income-generating asset that you could own for a really long time. And you could even get an exponential return on that money if you play your cards right. This is well worth the effort to spend a small amount of time answering questions and producing documents with the end goal in mind.

How to Purchase Real Estate With No (or Low) Money!

One of the biggest struggles that many new investors have is in coming up with the money to purchase their first real estate properties. Well, BiggerPockets can help with that too. The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down can give you the tools you need to get started in real estate, even if you don’t have tons of cash lying around.

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The Loan Application

(Fannie Mae Form 1003 is called “ten-o-three” or the Uniform Residential Loan Application)

Here is a detailed list of questions that you’ll need to answer when filling out the loan application for an investment property (I’ve added some anecdotal information for some of the questions). Just remember, as a rule of thumb, that whatever is stated on the loan application usually has to be documented.

Type of Mortgage and Terms of the Loan

  • Loan Type (Conventional, FHA, VA, USDA/Rural Housing, Other): Most, if not all, investment property loans are conventional or jumbo, which falls into the “other” category.
  • Lien Position (First, Second, Other): Most loans on investment property are first liens. There are 2nds, but they’re much harder to find these days.
  • Amortization Type (Fixed Rate, ARM, Other): Most people prefer fixed loans, but ARMs are an excellent tool to increase cash flows because of lower interest rates on investment property.
  • Purchase Price: The contract price. Not applicable for refinance transactions.
  • Loan Amount: How much money you are borrowing after your down payment?
  • Interest Rate: This is the actual note rate, not the annual percentage rate which varies based on closing costs.
  • Loan Term (Number of months): For example, a 30-year fixed loan would have a loan term of 360 months.

Property Information and Purpose of the Loan

  • Subject Property Address (Street, City, State, Zip, Year Built): The address of the property that is being financed.
  • Purpose of the Loan (Purchase, Cash-Out Refinance, Rate/Term Refinance, Construction): Purchase or rate/term refinance are the most common. Cash-out refinances on investment properties are harder, but not impossible.
  • Legal Description of Subject Property: This description comes from the preliminary title report, which is usually already pulled from a title company/closing attorney for a purchase transaction. For a refinance, the loan officer will get this from the escrow officer or closing attorney. This is not something you need to know as a borrower.
  • Manner in Which Title Will be Held: There are many ways to hold title, and only you can decide that. Check with an escrow officer or closing attorney to figure out which is best for you as an investor.
  • Source of Funds (Bridge Loan, Cash on Hand, Checking/Savings, Deposit on Purchase Contract, Equity, Gift, etc.): There are numerous ways to come up with the money to put down on the property, but many times they require a paper trail as to where you got the money. The most common is either cash on hand or checking/savings for investment property.

Borrower Information

  • Borrower’s Full Name, Co-Borrower’s Full Name: Use your full name however you like to do your signature. For example, I don’t usually put my middle name, just my middle initial. All documents that require a signature should match this.
  • Social Security Number: For identification purposes. Used in pulling your credit report.
  • Birthdate: For identification purposes. Used in pulling your credit report.
  • Home Phone: Contact information. Some borrowers don’t even have a home phone anymore; in which case, they use their cell phone number.
  • Years In School: I’ve never understood why they ask this. Maybe the government has some secret information on you?
  • Current Address (Street, City, State, Zip): Contact information about where you currently live.
  • Former Address: Must provide if you’ve lived at your current address less than two years. In other words, you’ll need a two year minimum history of residence regardless if you rent or own.
  • How Long You’ve Lived at Your Current Address: Indicate how long you’ve lived at your current address.
  • Marital Status (Married, Single, Divorced, Widowed, Separated): The government wants to know your marital status.
  • Dependents (and Their Ages): The government also wants to know how many children you have.

Employment Information

  • Employer (Name, Address, City, State, Zip, Phone): Used to verify your income.
  • Position: This is your job title.
  • Years on Job: The lenders want consistency.
  • Years in This Line of Work: Most lenders want at least 2 years’ employment history, whether that be as a wage earner or as a self-employed borrower.
  • Additional and Former Employers: This is for documenting income if you work a 2nd job and/or you’ve been working at your current employer for less than 2 years.

Monthly Income and Combined Housing Expense Information

  • Gross Monthly Income (Overtime, Bonuses, Commission, Dividends/Interest, Net Rent, Child Support, Alimony, Pension, Other): Depending on the way you make money, can be either taken from pay stubs if you’re on a salary or hourly or from your federal tax returns if you’re self-employed.
  • Current Housing Expenses (Rent, First Mortgage, Other Financing, Hazard Insurance, Taxes, Mortgage Insurance, HOA Dues, School Tax, Flood Insurance): Obviously, your current expenses related to your housing situation.
  • Proposed Housing Expenses (Rent, First Mortgage, Other Financing, Hazard Insurance, Taxes, Mortgage Insurance, HOA Dues, School Tax, Flood Insurance): These are the terms of the new loan you’re applying for.


When answering questions regarding your assets, keep in mind that you will have to document just about everything you state on the loan application. With that being said, don’t over-disclose. For example, if you have $500,000 in the bank and you’re buying a $300,000 property, there would be no need to disclose that you have a retirement account with $1,000,000 sitting in it. That’s just extra paperwork for everyone involved.

  • Checking and Savings Accounts: Liquid cash on hand.
  • Cash Market Value of Real Estate Owned: Used to determine net worth. If applicable.
  • Vested Interest in Retirement Funds: How much money you have for retirement. Used to determine net worth. If applicable.
  • Net Worth of Businesses Owned: Again, factored into your net worth calculation. If applicable.
  • Stocks or Bonds (Name, Shares, Value): Paper assets. If applicable.
  • Life Insurance (Face Amount Value): If applicable.
  • Automobiles Owned (Make and Year): If applicable. Usually, you don’t have to document this.
  • Other Assets: Maybe something like jewelry, etc. If applicable. Usually, you don’t have to document this unless it’s substantial.

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


  • Liabilities (Child Care, HELOC, Installment Loan, Lease Payments, Liens, Mortgage, Revolving Charges, Taxes): Usually, you don’t need to know this stuff off the top of your head. The credit report pulled by your loan originator shows all liabilities that need to be reported in this section.
  • Child Support: If applicable.
  • Job Related Expenses: If applicable.
  • List of Real Estate Owned [Market Value, Amount of Mortgage, Rent, Mortgage Payment, Taxes, Insurance, Net Rent, Status (Sold, Pending Sale, Rental)]: The lender wants to know if you have a mortgage, which is a liability and goes against your debt ratios. Rental properties that cash-flow can be either a liability or an asset, depending on how the cash flow is calculated.

Details of the Transaction

  • Purchase Price: The contract price.
  • Alterations: If applicable.
  • Land: If applicable.
  • Estimated Prepaid Items (Credit Report, Appraisal, Inspections): Must be disclosed in the good faith estimate (GFE).
  • Estimated Closing Costs (Lender Fees, Title/Escrow Fees, Broker Compensation): Must be disclosed in the GFE.
  • PMI, MIP, Funding Fee: Usually not applicable for investment property.
  • Discount (if Borrower Will Pay)
  • Subordinate Financing: On a refinance transaction, the loan amount of the 2nd position loan.
  • Closing Costs Paid by the Seller: Good Realtors always get something for their clients whenever possible.
  • Lender Credits (Borrower Paid Fees, Cash Deposit on Sales Contract, Employer Assisted Housing, Lease Purchase Fund, Lender Credit, Relocation Funds, Seller Credits)


If you answer “yes” to questions 1-6, good luck getting a loan!

  1. Any outstanding judgments?
  2. Declared bankruptcy in the last 7 years?
  3. Had a property foreclosed upon or given title or deed in lieu therefore in the last 7 years?
  4. Party to a lawsuit?
  5. Obligated on any loan that resulted in foreclosure, transfer in lieu of foreclosure, or judgment?
  6. Delinquent or in default on any student debt, or any other loan, mortgage, financial obligation bond, or loan guarantee?
  7. Are you obligated to pay alimony, child support, or separate maintenance? If yes, this will be counted against your debt ratios.
  8. Is any part of the down payment borrowed? If it is, you’ll have to count it against your debt ratios.
  9. Are you the co-maker or endorser on a note?
  10. Are you a US citizen?
  11. Are you a permanent resident alien?
  12. Occupy the property as your primary residence? Since this blog is about investment property, the answer will be “No” unless you’re buying a multi-unit property and you intend to occupy one of the units.
  13. Had ownership in the property in the last 3 years?
    1. What type of property did you own? (primary residence, second home, investment property)
    2. How did you hold title to the home? (single, with your spouse, other)

Information for Government Monitoring Purposes

  • Ethnicity (Hispanic or Latino, Not Hispanic or Latino)
  • Race (American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Asian, White, Black or African American)
  • Sex (Male or Female)

And, that’s it…


Can you see, after all of that information and all of those questions, why applying for a traditional mortgage loan to purchase an investment property might be a pain? Still, leveraging your money with a mortgage loan to produce a passive income generating asset is more than worth the headache of filling out the loan application.

Besides, much of this information can be filled in by your loan originator before you actually meet them in person to sign some documents. Your ears perked up, didn’t they? Stay tuned for next week’s post, and I’ll “fill you in” on how to get most of this done beforehand by your loan originator (Get it? “Fill you in”… loan officer humor).

After going through this list of questions on the loan application, are there any surprises? What are your experiences with filling out a loan application for a mortgage on an investment property? 

Submit your questions and comments below.

About Author

Jeff Trevarthen

Jeff Trevarthen is the broker/owner of Veritas Mortgage, a boutique mortgage brokerage in San Jose, California. With 10+ years in real estate finance, Jeff is an expert at coming up with creative loan solutions for all types of residential real estate loans.


  1. Naveen Desai

    Thank you, thank you. Very helpful. I usually keep my file ready with all the details ( & keep it updated every 6 months). So this is very helpful to note anything that I might have to add to my file.

    I would like to share an interesting case and like to see if anyone has come across this. As I already said I keep my file almost updated at any instant. In 2014 Feb, I bid on a property and started working with a loan agency, planning to close in March. I had an emergency and had to go outside the country and stay for over 4 months. I thought I cannot get this deal and was worried about earnest money deposit I had given.

    To cut the story short – End result – I was able to close and bought the property in May 2014, all while I was outside the country, including signing the notarized purchase documents at US embassy in my home country and all of this was possible only because I had every bit of information handy & certainly with enough support and help from the loan agency and sellers.

    Rehabbed the property, and sold in Nov. After tax 22% gain.

    Just wanted to share what being ready can do to you along with working with right team around you.

    I am curious to know if any of you have closed on a property taking loan while you were outside the country?

    • Jeff Trevarthen

      This is a great point Naveen! Having everything ready to begin with is immensely helpful for your loan originator of choice. I think that’s a great practice to have all your answers to questions and documentation lined up and ready to go when necessary. Thanks for commenting.

  2. Ndy Onyido

    Hi Jeff,
    Quick question: what has been your experience with bank lending to non-residents in the US? Investors from Canada that require some form of financing, what options are available to them aside from the hard money lenders? Is there a policy that prevents them from extending credits to non-residents even with proposed LTV ratio of, say between 30-50%?


    • Jeff Trevarthen

      Thanks for the question Ndy. My experience is minimal with non-residents. Most lender guidelines require a) US citizenship or b) for you to be a permanent resident alien in which you have documented proof that you have a lawful presence in the Unites States and that you can document at least the last 24 months of employment in the US. Some lenders will allow for non-permanent resident aliens as long as you have the legal proof for you to be in the US. Hope that helps.

  3. Naveen Desai

    Additionally, I would like to see a template where users can just fill in respective information. I know it gets very case specific, but there could be a possibility to generalize as much as possible and I can contribute any help in preparing such templates. Anybody else interested to join to prepare a file for documentation that could be shared, please ping me. Thanks. ND.

    • Jeff Trevarthen

      There are many “forms” available online that are used as templates by lenders. For example, filling in a loan application online is just that, a template. Some of my clients do what you mentioned earlier and keep an updated file (online or otherwise) to share with me when they’re ready to get the financing.

  4. Deanna Opgenort

    Was thinking about this earlier today as a matter of fact. Rental #1 is doing well, so just starting to look around for possible rental #2. Should be a bit easier, as I “exist” in the system now (bought first property with a 0 credit rating, as I had never had debt. I’ve got some really funny stories about the adventures getting my first credit card at 45, AFTER purchasing my first property…

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