Mortgages 101: WSECU Guides Prospective Homebuyers Through the Home Loan Process

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WSECU understands that a home purchase is one of the most important undertakings that people make in their lives. Knowing what to expect in the loan application process and how best to prepare takes a lot of the stress out of the experience. WSECU provides support to help future homebuyers by linking them with a mortgage loan officer to discuss the best plan and the next steps.

Discovering the pathway to a home mortgage is a journey that the trusted loan counselors at WSECU can help prospective buyers navigate. Photo courtesy: WSECU

WSECU Guidance for Getting Ready to Buy

Buying a first home is exciting. Unfortunately, first-time buyers often stall at the concern of not qualifying for a home loan, but WSECU has helpful news.

“We encourage people to get with a mortgage loan officer as soon as possible,” says John Smith, director of residential lending, sales at WSECU. “A mortgage loan officer can help answer all those questions and put you at ease as to what the process might be.” 

Smith also says there are five important pieces: credit, income, assets, the property, and the program.If there are challenges to improving your credit rating, counselors can help with steps to improve your score. Also consider your debt-to-income ratio because the greater your income, the more you can qualify to borrow.

“We are member-focused, and as a lender that’s something we want people to know,” Smith says. “We’re focused on making sure you are financially successful, and we have counseling to help you get there. So, if an individual is really questioning whether they should apply, we have people who are trained counselors, ready to help them answer those questions.”

WSECU has a checklist of necessary documents in their online resources. Check their website at WSECU.org to learn more about documentation needed. Providing a financial picture enables the lender to decide on pre-qualification and later pre-approval status for a mortgage. It is the  conditional credit approval letter from WSECU that house-hunters bring to their real estate agent.

“The lender is going to help inform you on what you’re truly qualified to purchase and keep you financially safe from overextending yourself,” Smith says. “You can expect the lender to provide you with education on what the loan process is from start to finish. They’ll help set expectations and give you comfort in the whole process. You should expect someone who is consistent with the information that they’re providing you over time and over multiple interactions.”

‘We encourage people to get with a mortgage loan officer as soon as possible,’ says John Smith, director of retail lending and residential sales at WSECU. ‘That’s somebody who can help answer all those questions and put you at ease as to what the process might be.’ Photo courtesy: WSECU

WSECU Has Loan Types to Meet Your Needs When You Are Ready to Buy

After your home loan is conditionally approved and you’ve selected the home you want to buy, the next phase of mortgage lending comes into play. An earnest money deposit is paid by you into an escrow account of an independent third party until the loan is finalized.

When choosing the most appropriate loan type, property type matters. Condominiums, manufactured homes and single-family houses have different financing requirements. If you are a first-time home buyer, WSECU has its own, first-time buyer Welcome Home Grant, which may award applicants up to 5% of a home’s sale price, no more than $10,000.

Depending on whether you apply for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Veterans Affairs (VA), or conventional mortgage, details vary, and certain areas in Washington state have different loan parameters. For example, jumbo mortgages are for mortgages over $977,500 in King County, Pierce County or Snohomish County or for mortgages over $766,550 in other parts of the state. Consider your current budget and how the terms of the loan fit within it. Mortgage payments include principle, interest, property taxes, and insurances.

Zero, or low, down payments have advantages but can mean having to pay private mortgage insurance if your down payment is less than 20% of the sale price. Additionally, you’ll need to plan for initial costs such as the down payment, a property appraisal and a home inspection.

WSECU also has its own first-time buyer Welcome Home Grant program. Photo courtesy: WSECU

WSECU Congratulates You as a New Homeowner

The home loan underwriting phase begins as WSECU processes and confirms your financial paperwork and property information. At the point, when you are conditionally approved, and when the documentation is cleared, your closing paperwork is signed.

With a new home, you are now both landlord and tenant. Maintenance and repairs become your responsibility, so spending some time familiarizing yourself with your new place is a good idea.

“I want to encourage people to be prepared, to know a couple of things,” Smith says. “One is, ‘Where is the main water shut off to your home and the electrical box?’ Another area that you might want to consider as the new homeowner, because there are going to be minor things you may have to fix, so have some basic tools on hand and learn to use them.”

Applying for a mortgage with WSECU is quick to get started. To get the ball rolling, gather your financial documents and visit the WSECU website to fill out an application online. WSECU is ready to talk with you about your future home and how you can set up financing.  Call your local branch today to learn about their low rates and to ask about a homeownership counselor with whom you can discuss the details of a new home loan.


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