When you start thinking about buying a home, the first thing you should be considering is your down payment and cash for fees and closing costs, and then you’ll have to show your lender how where you got the money for the down payment. The best place to start the process is by documenting and verifying the contents of your checking, savings and money market accounts at your bank. But for those of you who have most of your money invested outside of your checking and savings, you may wish to look to your brokerage account and its contents: stocks, bonds, mutual funds etc., to show your lender the money. Still in many cases it may not be advisable to liquidate well performing investments to make a down payment.
If you have a brokerage account in good standing, documenting these assets is simple. Open up your filing cabinet and find the most recent statement of your account. Your lender will likely require that you need a current (thirty to ninety day old) brokerage account statement for documentation of the assets.
If you own shares in a mutual fund or any stocks or bonds which were purchased outside of the brokerage account, please produce hard copies of any proof of ownership and submit copies to your lender clearly explaining the situation. For example, if you have 1,000 physical stock certificates of Berkshire Hathaway A gathering dust in a safety deposit box or fireproof safe somewhere, you’ll want to take photocopies of the certificates and if necessary get a letter from the company’s registrar confirming your ownership of n number of shares of the company in your name. The same is true of all instruments which you may have physical copies of, but it is important to note that shares of private companies will not benefit you in verifying your assets for the lender. Mutual funds often provide separate statements which you can produce for your lender’s satisfaction. Be sure to present statements which are no more than 30 days old.
So everything we’ve talked about so far refers to the verification of assets, but if you are planning on selling all or part of these stocks, bonds, mutual funds or any other securities to make a down payment or pay for fees and closing costs on your new home and mortgage respectively, it is critical to keep every single piece of paper, email, bank to bank wire / telex, or other communication which documents the sale or other liquidation of the assets and any receipts which show how you got paid for raising money against or through these assets. Be thorough, be detailed, because most lenders will be obligated to ask you a lot of questions about the liquidation of such assets to cover a down payment on your new home or closing costs on your mortgage.
If you deposit funds from the sale of securities, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds into a savings, checking or money market account, try to put the money in the same bank where you are keeping most of your accounts, which will simplify matters and make it easier to substantiate the sudden influx of cash from the sale. And hang on to those receipts!
Stocks, bonds and mutual funds are an excellent source of capital for the purposes of establishing that you have reserves of assets which could be used in emergency situations such as unemployment, disaster or injury, however it is difficult to recommend liquidating these assets for use in marginally reducing your rate of borrowing on a home loan. Generally, it is best to discuss the matter with your financial advisor to weigh the comparative performance offset between the appreciation of these investments against whatever savings you might realize by liquidating them for use as a downpayment.