How to choose a lender for a mortgage or construction loan

Staff Reports • Feb 28, 2018 at 2:16 PM

Getting a loan for purchasing or building a home was noted as one of the most stressful processes a person can go through in life. 

It is by far the largest debt most people ever take on, and at the same time, the borrower has limited control over many parts of the transaction.

When it comes to selecting the right bank and lender for your mortgage or construction loan, the first thing that may come to mind is getting the lowest interest rate available – and that is certainly a consideration. But working with a lender that you trust is likely the most important decision you can make in the process. From initial contact through closing and beyond, your lender plays a key role in making things happen on the financing side of your home search or the building of your home. It’s crucial that they’re a trusted partner. So where to start?

The right institution

While all mortgage lenders and most banks offer mortgage products, all mortgage lenders are not created equal. Many, many organizations offer secondary market loans, whether online or in person, but a much smaller percentage of institutions truly offer all the housing loans that any buyer could potentially need. If you’re building a home, for example, starting with a regular mortgage loan won’t work. Or if the home of your dreams suddenly becomes available, and there isn’t time to sell your home before making an offer, a bridge loan may be necessary to fill the gap.

At Wilson Bank & Trust, the goal is to offer a full assortment of products to maintain lending relationships for life. Wilson Bank & Trust offers a variety of secondary market mortgage loans, operating a dedicated mortgage center exclusively for that purpose, but the bank also offers all the additional loans that a home buyer could potentially need. In fact, Wilson Bank has built a strong reputation in the specialty area of construction lending; consumers looking to build a home – and perhaps still needing to purchase the property on which it will stand – can rely on years of experience and expertise for construction financing that can transition to a mortgage.

The right lender

When it comes to your individual lender, be hesitant to work with anyone who is unwilling or unable to meet with you face to face.  Supporting you and your specific needs is the most important service a mortgage lender provides. Investing an hour with your lender to review your information and develop a relationship built on trust is certainly time well spent.

The lender’s ability to find the best loan for your individual circumstances is an important first step. While most loan types may not differ widely in terms of interest rate, differences in loan structure can result in large savings through reduced costs. Loans can differ in areas like the term or the length of the loan, prepayment options or penalties, and processing fees. The right lender will help you find a manageable payment structure for your situation and goals, so you can count on minimizing the risk of overextending your finances to pay for your home.

Prequalification or pre-approval is helpful in this regard. By helping you get pre-qualified – using your information to estimate a maximum loan amount – your lender can become familiar with your finances from the outset, and the timeframe for closing can move quickly and efficiently. Pre-approval doesn’t guarantee that your loan application will be accepted, but it does help you narrow your search to homes you can afford.

Next, a good lender will walk you through every phase of the loan application. That involves moving things along on schedule, tracking what’s needed and when and keeping you updated. He or she also has a responsibility to help you understand the fees and all the required documentation and to navigate a changing regulatory landscape behind the scenes. You may come across many new terms over the course of applying for a loan, and your lender should clearly explain the down payment, closing costs, pre-paids, annual percentage rate and actual interest rate. Since all mortgage lenders use the same forms, the numbers keep the same format throughout the process.

Being local is another good quality in a lender. Someone who lives and works in the market where you’re buying or building has a natural reason to make sure you have a great home buying experience. Since they serve the real estate community where they live, a negative reputation will impact their business to a much higher degree than a mortgage lender who is not personally tied to the community. 

About Wilson Bank & Trust lenders

Wilson Bank & Trust, a member of the FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender, takes pride in providing friendly, prompt, knowledgeable service and fast, local decisions through lending professionals who are committed to meeting your needs. To inquire about a home loan or talk with a loan officer, call or stop by any full-service Wilson Bank & Trust office or the Wilson Bank & Trust Mortgage Center or begin the application process at wilsonbank.com.

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