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Finding your perfect home can be a challenge, but at Wintrust Mortgage, we don’t think understanding your mortgage should be. Let us help break it down.

Toll-free: 833-602-8988
M - F: 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Central time

For Southern California: 818-650-5664
M - F: 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Pacific time

What's a mortgage?

A mortgage is loan by a bank or financial institution that lends money, at a specific interest rate over a specific period of time, to help finance the purchase of a home. A mortgage differs from other loan types in that the home you purchase is used as collateral until the mortgage is paid off.


  • Principal, or the amount of money borrowed;
  • Interest, or the cost of borrowing the money;
  • Property taxes, the taxes paid to the local government which can be part of your monthly mortgage payments or can be paid separately by the homeowner;
  • Hazard or homeowners insurance, which protects homeowners from unexpected events that affect the home; and
  • Mortgage insurance, which pays mortgage lenders if a borrower fails to repay the loan.
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So, what do you need to get started?

  • Applicant's Social Security number and birthdate
  • Alimony and/or child support that’s part of income, including legal documentation along with a 12-month payment history
  • Two years of employment history
  • Last 30 days’ pay stubs
  • For those who are self-employed, two years’ business tax returns & K1s (the complete tax return including all schedules)
  • Two years of W-2 tax forms and tax returns (the complete tax return including all schedules)
  • All pages of the last two months’ bank statements
  • Names and addresses of all creditors, monthly payments, and total amounts due for all current loans
  • All pages of the statements of current assets (IRAs, CDs, employee retirement accounts, stocks and bonds)

Ready to begin? First, pre-qualify.

Before you start looking for your new home, you need to know how much you can afford. The pre-qualification process helps you get a sense of whether you're ready to take on a mortgage. It's a simple, no obligation step to help you get started towards homeownership.

1. Determine how much you can afford. You don't want something that's too much, but you don't want something that's less than what you can actually afford. Pre-qualify to find your perfect range.

2. See how much you'll need for a down payment. Pre-qualifying also helps you determine how much you'll need to put down. But, don't let the down payment stand in your way; there are first-time homebuyer programs that can help offset down payment costs.

3. Figure out your mortgage payment. Get a sense of your monthly principal, interest, taxes, and insurance payments to see if the payment works within your budget.

Once you're pre-qualified, you'll receive a certificate to give to your real estate agent to prove you're a serious potential homebuyer. Then, the fun begins!

Keep in mind that a pre-qualification isn’t a full application. It’s only an estimation of how much home you can afford.

Want more information? Check out some of our other resources.

First-time Homebuyer Helpful Programs
Home Down Payment: 7 Myths Debunked
Know Your Mortgage Buzzwords
5 Simple Steps to Homebuying
5 Things That Can Derail Your Mortgage Approval
How to buy a house when you have student loan debt
Wintrust Mortgage

At Wintrust Mortgage, we've got the easy-to-use tools and the expert staff to help you reach your dream of homeownership.

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