Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, serving in the military and stationed at Moody Air Force Base, looking to move into a larger home for a growing family, or seeking to construct a new home before retirement, it’s important to know what to consider when choosing a mortgage lender. Here are four things to look for:
1) Take the Time to Know Your Story
A local lender can (and should!) spend time getting to know you. Have you lived in South Georgia your whole life or are you new to the area? What kind of home do you have in mind? Where specifically are you looking to buy? What’s your budget? What would you be comfortable paying each month? How long do you plan to remain in your home? Is it a forever home, or do you plan to be there three years or so?
For instance, interest rates are low right now and many people approach a bank simply wanting to know what size mortgage they can qualify for. However, just knowing the amount you can qualify for may not lead to a mortgage that’s actually suited to your lifestyle. To make sure you're comfortable with your mortgage, we need to know your story. Talking about your background, budget, and the goals you're looking to achieve through home ownership allow a mortgage lender to present loan products that make sense for you.
Specifically, a community bank lender will discuss these questions with you. This way, when you learn the size mortgage you can qualify for, you also know you have a mortgage that fits your pocketbook and your life.
2) Offers Mortgage Loan Options
When it comes to financing your home, there are more options available than you may think. Make sure your mortgage lender can educate you on your options and help secure the mortgage loan that is best for your situation.
We understand that many people may see ads for large online or app-based lenders located across the country promising instant approval and low rates. Their rates may sound good – but it’s important to understand that the low rates they advertise may not be what they can actually offer you. They also may not be upfront about other fees such as taxes and insurance premiums you could be responsible for.
For instance, here at CBC Bank we offer a variety of mortgage products and can help you understand which would work well for you. It’s very possible that one of our mortgage loans will result in a down payment lower than the conventional 20% and monthly payments lower than expected. Several types are fully financed, so no down payment is required.
- VA loans –U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs mortgage loans require no down payment and offer low interest rates to current military families and veterans.
- FHA loans – U.S. Federal Housing Administration mortgage loans require just a 3.5% down payment and offer low interest rates to those who qualify.
- USDA loans – U.S. Department of Agriculture mortgage loans can be a good fit for those looking to buy in more rural areas of South Georgia who do not currently own a home. These loans require no down payment and offer low interest rates. (Additionally, you may be pleasantly surprised by just how much of South Georgia falls within the property guidelines.)
- Conventional loans – Conventional loans require as little as 5% down payment and provide options with and without mortgage insurance.
- Refinancing for your current loans - In addition, if you already have a home, but want to see if you could lower your monthly mortgage payments, we offer mortgage refinancing at today’s low rates. (Also, there's no charge for a quote on refinancing your mortgage. Simply give us a call at 229-219-8405.)
All in all, when evaluating mortgage lenders, consider those who know a mortgage loan is not one size fits all and who can also advise you on the many mortgage products available.
3) Helps With the Process
Many first-time home buyers assume that the steps toward a mortgage are fairly simple and straightforward. While a pre-qualification can take place within 24 to 48 hours, full approval for a mortgage loan on a house you want to purchase can take up to four weeks.
A local lender, such as a community bank, can help you understand this process and explain all the steps. Most importantly, they'll make sure you feel comfortable throughout the process.
The steps toward a home purchase can include:
- Prequalifictaion – It's beneficial for aspiring homeowners to obtain prequalification for a mortgage. This way, you know whether your credit score, income, and other requirements qualify you for a loan and how much you are qualified for, before you start to look for a home. Additionally, prequalification signals to your realtor that you are serious about buying.
- Underwriting approval – an underwriter must approve mortgage loans.
- Appraisal – to determine that the house is priced appropriately.
- Title search – to make sure that no one else has a claim on the house.
- Placing property tax in escrow – the bank places property tax on the house in an escrow account and then pays the tax on time for you.
Obtaining a mortgage and closing is just the first part of the process to settling in to your new home. As a local community bank, our guidance doesn't end after you close on your home. We can also help first-time and other homebuyers understand the entire process of moving in, from avoiding common scams to getting your homestead exemption, and even understanding the amenities around the Valdosta area.
4) Is Available and Easy to Contact
When choosing a mortgage lender, remember how closely you'll be working with them throughout the entire process of buying your home. You'll want to talk with your lender when questions come up – not to have to wait on hold or submit a customer service ticket. Or worse, constantly reexplain your situation to a different representative.
At CBC Bank, you'll work with the same lender throughout the process and be able to get a hold of them easily.
Buying a home is a major step for most people and selecting the right mortgage lender makes a big difference. At CBC Bank, you'll work with a fellow member of your local community who truly understands all that goes in to this process. We'll get to know you, help you understand your options and be there every step of the way. It's our goal to make sure you are comfortable with your decisions and thrilled when you walk through the door of your new home.