Getting ready to apply for your home loan? Use this list to help you gather all necessary paperwork to pave the way for a smooth closing. The list applies to any co-borrowers, too.

  • Pay stubs. Whether you're paid once a week or once a month, collect all of your pay stubs for at least the last month from the time you submit your application.
  • W-2s. Find your employer-generated w-2 form for the past two years. They are required for your tax return, so look there first or ask your tax preparer for copies.
  • Tax returns. If you are self-employed, or paid commissions or bonuses, make sure you have copies of your most recent two years of signed tax returns.
  • Bank and investment statements. Gather three months' worth of all of your accounts, including checking, savings and any investment accounts (cd, 401k, ira, etc.). Together, these documents must show you're able to afford your down payment and several mortgage payments. If your statements show any large deposits or withdrawals, be prepared to provide a detailed letter with an explanation.
  • Home purchase agreement. This shows the lender that you found a home you intend on buying. You'll need to present this contract before finalizing your loan.

Remember, as mortgage industry technology improves, your lender may be able to get some of the required paperwork electronically. Be sure to ask your mortgage broker what can be done online before you spend time gathering papers, emails and forms.