Finding a Bellevue mortgage lender should consist of more than visiting your local bank branch. Most local banks and credit unions only do a few home loans a month, and won’t have the expertise or the access to the wider range of loan options and low interest rates you need.
Since purchasing a home is a large financial transaction as well as an investment for your future, you need to look for a mortgage lender in Bellevue, WA State, who is focused on your best interests. Here’s how to find the right lender and the right loan for you.
Buying a home can be a rite of passage, and comes with its own challenges. Just as with any other life milestone, you’ll need to do some research and make sure everything is in order before you take the next step.
The first thing you should do is find a reputable mortgage lender and apply for mortgage preapproval to find out where you stand when it comes to buying a home in Bellevue, WA. We’ve put together some tips to help.
What Describes the Best Mortgage Lender?
Your best option is a mortgage lender who understands what loan programs you qualify for as a prospective Bellevue home buyer, and also offers the type of home loan that best suits your needs.
Choose a Bellevue mortgage lender who can advise you on down payment requirements, debt-to-income ratios, lender credits, and discount points. The best lender will also employ salaried loan officers, provide excellent customer service, have excellent online reviews, and offer competitive Bellevue mortgage rates.
If you are a first-time homebuyer, an online class to buying a home in Washington State can help you successfully navigate the process, from finding a trustworthy mortgage lender in WA, to closing on your new Bellevue home. These tips for first-time homebuyers can help, too.
Before You Choose a Mortgage Lender
You have several options when searching for a Bellevue mortgage lender. Here are four tips on how to find the best lender for your needs.
The digital age has made the homebuying process less time consuming and more convenient. However, beware of online lenders or “pre-qualification offers” that spit out an estimate of your borrowing power without verified information. Instead, consider starting the pre-approval process with a reputable Bellevue mortgage lender.
This process is easier than ever thanks to online mortgage tools, borrower applications, and secure document uploads, and you can also easily compare programs, fees, and interest rates for multiple lenders, view real-time rate quotes and read extensive lender reviews before providing all of your contact information.
Touch base with your real estate agent
Of course, you should secure a lender before you start house hunting, but what about finding a trustworthy real estate agent? Buyers don’t pay real estate agent commissions; sellers do. This means you have no reason not to take advantage of advice from an agent, and it’s possible they can refer you to a great mortgage lender they already know about.
Pick your financial planner’s brain
Similarly, if you have a financial planner, they can also likely provide you with a few lender referrals. If you do not have a financial planner in your pocket, that is okay. You still probably have plenty of other people that you can ask for a referral, including family members, your insurance agent, and other people whose opinion you respect.
Skip your own bank
Don’t shop for a home loan where you do your own banking. Most banks and credit unions offer mortgages, but they don’t specialize in them, and may only have one loan product they offer. You’d be working with a bank employee who handles a few loans a month on top of all of their other responsibilities.
You’re likely to get more personalized service, better advice, and access to lower mortgage rates and a wider range of loan program choices with a Bellevue lender that focuses primarily on home mortgage loans.
15 Tips for Finding the Best Local Option
Start your search for a Bellevue mortgage lender well in advance of house hunting. This will let you familiarize yourself with specific loan terms and understand the options you have.
Identify your main goal.
Is your goal to buy your first home, buy a second or vacation home, or invest in real estate to use as a rental?
Decide what type of mortgage you need
Depending on your main goal for the property, there are different parameters and requirements for underwriting.
Know your credit score
Access your credit score and report without charge at www.freecreditreport.com. You are entitled by law to one free report from each of the three major bears once every year. Avoid unnecessarily checking your credit report, or applying for new credit lines, as this can lower your credit score.
Improve your credit score
Keep credit card balances at around a third of their limits, and don’t leave open lines of credit unused. You can use a formerly “phantom” card for gas or groceries (money you would spend anyway) then pay it off every month to show responsible use of credit. Also, dispute inaccuracies on your credit reports to get wrong information removed.
Search for reviews
Reviews can be a mixed bag, so be suspicious if all reviews for a lender are brand new and glowing. Also, take one very harsh review in a sea of general satisfaction with a grain of salt. Do things look off? Talk to the lender directly and ask for direct testimonials.
You don’t have to visit a bank in real time to buy a home, but you should be able to get real time rates, advice, and apply online with confidence. Only work with a lender who is responsive, transparent, and honest.
Familiarize yourself with lending rates
Lending rates posted by online companies can be a “best case scenario” rate that comes with a surprise ending you won’t like once they review your income, credit, and type of loan you want. Sammamish offers true rate transparency and you can get customized quotes based on your specific needs and circumstances.
Seek a referral
We believe in the power of word of mouth. That’s why so much of our business is repeat customers and friends and family of customers. We’ve earned our reputation.
Use your common sense
You want to work with a Bellevue mortgage lender you can trust, but don’t be too trusting at first.
All lenders are required to be licensed through the State department of financial regulations (in Washington, check this website: https://dfi.wa.gov/consumers/verify-license) Verify that your lender is in good standing with no formal suspensions or complaints.
Gather your paperwork
Most respectable mortgage lenders have a secure portal available online so you can scan all of your documents and upload them as saved PDFs. You’ll need the following:
- Your two most recent tax returns
- Your recent 401(k) or investment statement
- Two months’ worth of pay stubs
- Three months’ worth of your bank statements
Include all sources of income and all accounts under your name, including joint accounts.
Rein in your spending habits
Start tracking exactly what you spend, and back that up with bank statements, receipts, and anything else you can use to bolster your spending history with proof of how and why you spend like you do. Having all your records can be handy if your lender asks for documentation, and you might even notice you’re paying for things you don’t need.
Look at a lot of different programs
There are plenty of options out there. Don’t have a 20% down payment? Don’t worry. Most lenders can give you a loan with only a 3% to 10% down payment, and simply get you signed up for personal mortgage insurance (PMI) to help protect their interests. .
Ask about the fees
Most fees are covered by money you put in escrow, or settled at closing. Your lender should give you a loan estimate that clearly shows all fees at the start of the mortgage process, and a closing disclosure at the end that should match it closely.
Check for additional costs
There are some costs to owning a home that can be outside of the closing costs. Most common are HOA (homeowners association) fees, which you’ll typically have to pay directly to the HOA. PMI is often paid along with your mortgage payment.
Push for expertise and customer service
You should put your trust only in a Bellevue mortgage lender with an established presence and reputation like Sammamish Mortgage. Our loan officers (LOs) are paid a salary, so they can give you unbiased loan advice and support without angling for a commission. We provide not just access to a mortgage, but the expertise and customer service you deserve.
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.
Do you Need a Mortgage Lender in Bellevue, WA?
Sammamish Mortgage is a family owned, local mortgage bank serving the broader Pacific Northwest region, including Washington State, Idaho, Colorado, California, and Oregon. We are proud to offer a wide variety of mortgage programs and loan products with flexible qualification criteria.
Please contact us if you have any questions or are ready to apply for a home loan. One of our salaried loan officers (LOs) will be happy to help you get pre-approved for the mortgage that is right for you.