How to Choose the Perfect Mortgage Lender: A Pacific Northwest Homebuyer’s Guide

May 3, 2021
Last updated:
March 27, 2024
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Are you considering making a home purchase in the PNW at some point in the near future? Then you’ll want to get in touch with the best mortgage lender to help you start the process.

Owning real estate will not only provide you with a home you call your own, but it will also provide you with the opportunity to build equity and grow your wealth over time. Real estate has always been a solid way to invest, while also having a place to call home.

Odds are, you’ll need to finance this large purchase; otherwise, you’d have to come up with the cash needed to pay for the asset upfront. If you can’t make an all-cash purchase, you’ll need to take out a home loan to make the transaction happen. And in order to do that, you’ll have to work with a mortgage lender.

15 Tips For Getting Help From the Best Mortgage Lender

These experts are in the business of offering loans specifically to those who are looking to make a home purchase. The loan amount you can get approved for and the interest rate you can secure will depend on a few things, including your financial profile. But they’ll also depend on the mortgage lender you work with.

That’s why it’s so important to ensure that the mortgage lender you pick is the right one for your situation. The thing is, how do you go about finding a mortgage lender to help you secure a mortgage to finance and buy the home of your dreams? Here are a few tips to consider.

  1. Identify your main goal.

    Are you a first-time homebuyer?  Are you selling your house and using equity to upsize or downsize? Looking for a vacation home or Pied-à-terre?  The answer to this question will determine your path.

  2. Decide what kind of mortgage you need

    Depending on the type of loan you need, there are many different mortgage programs available. If you’re buying a home to live in full time the underwriting is typically simpler than if you are buying a second or vacation home or a house you plan to rent out.

  3. Know your credit score

    Do you know what your credit score is? Find out at no charge at, where you can get copies of all three main credit bureau reports once a year. Don’t apply for additional lines of credit or check your credit report repeatedly when applying for a mortgage, as this can drop your score.

  4. Improve your credit score

    There are many ways you can improve your credit. Line up all of your outstanding lines of credit, and take a good hard look at what your overall limits are and how much you’ve used.

    Pay down large limits, and start using formerly unused cards for regular purchases you can pay off at the end of each month, like gasoline purchases.

    If you have medical debt, pay a small amount each month so that reporting shows you are making payments.

    If you don’t have enough open lines of credit, start trying to improve your creditworthiness with a prepaid credit card.

    Equifax, Experian and TransUnion must address errors on your credit report, so start early with your credit improvement campaign and start disputing errors. Here’s more about how to improve your credit score.

  5. Search for reviews

    Mortgage lender reviews can be subjective, but looking up a lender online can help you get a feel about whether they leave clients happy or not.  If you find a lender you like but see a harsh negative review that concerns you, consider speaking directly to the lender for an explanation.

  6. Demand transparency

    While you can complete most of the mortgage application and approval process online, you still need clear and honest answers about the process. Look for a lender who will help you access and compare rates and fees for different options.

  7. Familiarize yourself with lending rates

    The interest rate you can secure on your home loan will make a huge difference in the amount you inevitably have to pay over the life of your loan. It’s important to understand what the going rates are, and how they differ among the different types of mortgages available.

    Further, you should understand how your financial profile might impact the rate you can get. For instance, a good credit score, low debt load, and large down payment can help you land at a lower rate than if you had a lower credit score, lots of debt, and a small down payment.

    Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better informed when you start comparison shopping among the various mortgage lenders out there.

  8. Seek a referral

    Speak with friends, family members, and co-workers about any experiences they may have had with their mortgage lenders. You may also want to speak with a real estate agent to see if they can refer you to a reputable mortgage lender in your area.

    Ask questions, such as what their experiences were like working with the mortgage lender and if there is anything they would have liked to see improved. Just keep in mind that not everyone may be in the same financial situation as you, and as such, their experience may differ slightly from what it might be with you.

  9. Use your common sense and gut instinct

    As with any industry, there are trustworthy people in mortgage finance and not-so-trustworthy people. Pay attention to how you’re treated. If someone disappears and doesn’t answer phone calls, think twice about doing business with them, and get everything in writing.

    Since all lenders are required to be licensed through their State’s department of financial regulations, you can check to make sure they are up-to-date and don’t have a major complaint on their record. In the state of Washington, check your lender’s credentials at this website:

  10. Gather your paperwork

    When you apply for a home loan with a mortgage lender, there are several documents that you will have to supply in order for them to verify your financial status. These can include things such as bank statements, pay stubs, tax receipts, statements of assets and liabilities, letters of employment, and so forth.

    If you can gather all this paperwork early on, it will be ready for submission when you apply.

  11. Rein in your spending habits

    When you’re looking to buy a home and apply for a mortgage, now is not the time to spend too much money and add to your current debt load. In fact, you should be doing the opposite.

    Ideally, you should not have a huge amount of debt when you apply for a mortgage. Your mortgage lender might make suggestions about what you should and shouldn’t do to help improve your odds of getting approved for a mortgage, and that may include reducing your spending (especially on your credit card) and avoiding taking out new loans or credit accounts.

  12. Look at a lot of different programs

    Ideally, the mortgage lender you work with will have multiple loan programs to offer you, each of which comes with its own sets of perks. Depending on your situation, one mortgage program may be better suited to you than another.

    For instance, there are 15-year versus 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, conventional and jumbo loans, FHA and VA loans, and so forth. Keeping your options open will give you more to choose from, which will give you more flexibility.

  13. Ask for the fees

    Besides the interest rate, there are certain fees that typically come with a home loan. You’ll want to find out what your mortgage lender’s fees are, which they will be obligated to disclose to you before you sign on the dotted line. That said, it doesn’t hurt to ask what these fees are upfront.

    The majority of these fees are paid on closing day, but some mortgage lenders may require things like a credit report or appraisal fees to be paid right after the application and approval phases.

  14. Check for additional costs

    In addition to closing costs, which normally include lender fees, title insurance, and other basics, you should be aware of additional costs involved with buying a home. If you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association, be sure to add monthly or quarterly HOA fees to your budget. Don’t forget that your monthly mortgage payments will include principal, interest, and PMI (if applicable).

  15. Push for expertise and customer service

    With the proliferation of online lenders, support and customer service can be sketchy. Sammamish Mortgage offers an online mortgage application and lending experience to make your home buying process less time-consuming and more convenient, providing the ability to submit documents online get pre-approved fast.

    Using our system can help you reduce the amount of time between finding a home and being able to close on your new home quickly and confidently. We also give you access to highly experienced loan officers to help you when you need assistance.

Loan Limit Basics

If you take out a home loan that is higher than a certain limit, your mortgage will be considered a “jumbo loan.” That’s because of loan limits, which are dollar limits placed on mortgages. For conforming loans, loan limits are caps that are placed on loans that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will purchase or guarantee.

For FHA loans, loan limits are dollar caps on loans that the FHA backs. VA loan limits have been eliminated. But some borrowers may still be subject to them if they currently have a couple of VA loans or have defaulted on one in the past.

Loan limits are assigned to every county in the country and usually increase at the start of every year to reflect the growth in home prices.

Check out our mortgage loan limit tool for conventional, FHA, and VA loans.

Get an Instant Mortgage Rate Quote Today

Why Sammamish Mortgage?

Sammamish Mortgage is a local mortgage loan company that has been serving clients since 1992. We support borrowers all across the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Colorado. We are proud to offer a wide variety of mortgage programs and products with flexible qualification criteria. Please contact us if you have any questions or are ready to apply for a home loan.

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