First, you apply for a loan. You can do that online, you can mail it in, you can do it over the phone, or you can make the application in person—but that’s the very first step. Your loan application is commonly called the 1003 (ten-oh-three), which is in fact Fannie Mae’s form number for a mortgage application. Freddie Mac uses the exact same form (Form 65), but I guess Fannie started first, so that’s what everyone calls it. Again, it’s important that you begin to use some of the lingo. Practice it. Don’t say, “I would like to fill out an application for a home loan.” Instead say, “Do you want me to complete a 1003?”

The 1003 is a big form. Five pages. More if needed. It has somewhere near 350 boxes or spaces that might pertain to you, and it is divided into ten sections. At the very top you’ll see some tiny, tiny writing explaining that Form 1003 should be used with help from the lender (go figure). It also asks whether you’re applying for the loan by yourself or with someone else. You’re supposed to check those boxes if they apply. Oddly enough, even most loan officers forget this part and don’t check either box because the 1003 tells the same story without checking any boxes.

The loan application asks a lot of questions and sometimes uses bizarre language. If you’re not sure what the question is, simply leave it blank and ask the lender later on if it applies. Just because the 1003 has lots of boxes to be filled out doesn’t mean you have to fill in every one of them. You won’t, so don’t be intimidated by the application at the very start. Simply complete the stuff you know about.

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