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Good Financial Cents is dedicated to helping readers improve their financial standing with money-saving tips, ideas for side hustles, entrepreneurial advice, and more. Jeff Rose is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and founder of Alliance Wealth Management, LLC.
PHH was founded in 1946 in Mount Laurel, New Jersey and is named after its three founders: Duane Peterson, Harley Howell, and Richard Heather.
The company initially offered mortgages, employee relocation services, and fleet management services. Currently, PHH is one of the nation’s largest subservicers of mortgages. After belonging to several different corporate owners, PHH eventually began operating independently again in 2005 as a publicly-traded company.
As of October 2018, PHH has been purchased by, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of, Ocwen Financial Corporation, although it continues to operate under the PHH brand.
PHH Mortgage Facts
Fixed- and adjustable-rate, FHA, VA, Jumbo, investment, vacation, and other mortgage options
One of the largest holders of consumer mortgages in the nation
Home purchase checklist with comprehensive and detailed advice for the homebuying process
A variety of affordable mortgage options for qualified borrowers
Homeowner assistance programs for borrowers struggling to make payments
The PHH Corporation offers mortgage options for all types of borrowers including conventional fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, FHA, VA, and Jumbo loans. Ít directly offers its mortgage products in several states and also functions as a mortgage subservicer across the United States.
Current PHH Mortgage Rates
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A fixed-rate mortgage is a great option for borrowers who plan to stay in the purchased home for several years and want to lock-in a low rate. Since the rate stays the same for the length of the loan and can’t go up or down, borrowers know what to expect in their monthly payments and budget accordingly. PHH offers 10-, 15-, and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. Conventional fixed-rate loans usually require a 20 percent down payment.
Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARMs)
Adjustable-rate mortgages provide homebuyers with an initial fixed-rate period, followed by variable rates that adjust to market conditions. The interest rates during the loan’s first years are generally lower than those from fixed-rate mortgages, but borrowers might end up paying more than they expected if rates increase after the initial period, although rates could also decrease over time. Applicants who are planning to sell soon or refinance later may benefit the most from an adjustable mortgage by taking advantage of the introductory low rates.
These government-backed loans by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) offer affordable financing with lower monthly payments and down payments, even if the borrower’s credit score is less-than-perfect. For prospective home-buyers who meet the income qualifications, down payments as low as 3.5 percent are available for fixed or adjustable-rate loans.
PHH’s VA loans are an affordable mortgage option available to veterans, members of the armed forces, and their spouses. The VA guarantees part of the mortgage, allowing applicants to qualify for more favorable terms than they otherwise would under a conventional loan. Low or no down payment, fixed- or adjustable-rate, and no private mortgage insurance (PMI) options are available.
These loans help borrowers secure a larger mortgage with competitive interest rates and loan terms, typically for homes valued over $450,000. Jumbo loans are best for borrowers purchasing in high-cost home markets. However, because of their size, they call for stricter qualification requirements such as high credit scores, low debt-to-income (DTI) ratios, available cash, and ample documentation of the borrower’s financial history.
PHH Mortgage Customer Experience
PHH features extensive home loan products for all types of buyers like first-time homeowners, refinancers, repeat home buyers, investment property buyers, and vacation home buyers. Potential borrowers can start the application process online and use PHH’s buyer’s checklist to get detailed information each step in the home buying process. Online calculators, articles, and other helpful information can assist prospective borrowers in estimating their monthly payments and determining how much they will need for a down payment.
Borrowers can receive prequalification by applying online or calling one of PHH’s loan specialists. However, to complete the process and receive a full quote, applicants must provide personal and financial information.
As all other mortgage lenders, PHH requires documentation for mortgage loan applications. Borrowers must show that they can afford monthly payments in order to qualify and are asked to provide bank statements, W2 forms, tax returns from past years, pay stubs, asset and income documentation, and other evidence as needed. Requirements and credit standards do vary by loan type, but PHH’s mortgage specialists work with applicants to create a full profile on the borrower’s overall ability to repay the loan.
PHH Lender Reputation
PHH has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating of C+, with 184 closed complaints during the last three years. Based on 50 customer reviews, PHH averages a 1 out 5 score.
Information collected December 19, 2018
Ease of approval
620 and below
No credit score
Applicants with a credit score of 760 and up generally receive the best mortgage options available. Borrowers with scores between 700 and 759 do not necessarily qualify for the best mortgages, but will probably receive at least a few favorable loan options to choose from.
Applicants with “fair” credit scores may want to seek out an alternative mortgage program through PHH or other lenders since they won’t necessarily receive the best possible offers. PHH does not specifically have loans for borrowers with no credit history or low credit scores, although alternative programs may offer different loan options for these types of applicants.
During the process, it’s helpful to supply loan officers with any available income and asset documentation. This way they’ll be able to better understand the customer’s financial profile and offer the best possible mortgage rates.
Likelihood to get approved by lender
35% or less
50% or more
PHH will typically offer better terms to applicants with debt-to-income (DTI) ratios of 30 percent or less. Would-be borrowers applying with higher DTIs may want to ask about alternative loan programs at PHH and government-backed loan programs in order to qualify for the best mortgages.
Guild Mortgage has served customers across the country since 1960, offering vast industry experience and a broad range of home loan products. Headquartered in San Diego, Guild offers traditional fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, jumbo, FHA, USDA, and VA loans, as well as some unique options that offer grants, down payment assistance, and other benefits.
Guild Mortgage Facts
Operates in 48 states and Washington, D.C., excluding New Jersey and New York
Has 374 physical locations in 32 states, including 61 in California, 52 in Texas, 32 in Oregon, and 32 in Washington
Has operated as an independent lender since 1960, with over 50 years of experience originating and servicing home loans
Mortgage rates vary across eight major home loan products, from traditional fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages to jumbo home loans, down payment assistance programs, and much more
Offers an in-depth guide to the mortgage process on its website, from calculating payments to the paperwork they should keep after closing
Provides multiple layers of customer service for homeowners and prospective home-buyers
Founded in 1960, Guild Mortgage is an independent lender operating across 48 states and Washington, D.C. Guild offers a variety of lending products with different mortgage rates, including FHA, USDA and VA loans, and strives to assist customers by connecting them to local Down Payment Assistance programs.
With a large number of mortgage products available through this lender, home-buyers with different types of credit and financial profiles are sure to find a loan that meets their needs. Guild Mortgage’s headquarters has an A rating from the Better Business Bureau but is not accredited by the organization.
Current Guild Mortgage Rates
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Guild Loan Specifics
Borrowers have a wide range of options to consider when they choose to secure a home loan through Guild. Whether looking to own for the first time or seeking to purchase an especially large or expensive home, prospective homeowners financing their purchase through Guild are likely to find a mortgage product that aligns with their needs. With support for FHA, USDA, and VA loans, those who qualify for the favorable terms offered by these government-backed programs can obtain an even more competitive loan rate and monthly payment. Guild’s offering includes:
This common loan offers an interest rate that doesn’t change over time, allowing for more predictability when planning monthly payments. Fixed-rate mortgages are well-suited for those who plan to live in their new home for more than ten years. Guild offers several terms for this fixed-rate product, with a minimum loan term of 10 years and the most common being 30. Custom fixed-rate options offer further flexibility, including ending payments at a specific time in preparation for retirement and refinancing without extending the loan term. Financing of up to 97 percent is also available.
ARM loans are a practical solution for those who plan to move or refinance within 5-10 years or want to take advantage of the potential for lower rates while accepting the possibility of higher ones. ARMs from Guild feature terms of 3, 5, 7, and 10 years before the fixed-rate changes to an adjustable one, and exceptionally low initial rates with similarly modest payments. Those who qualify for an ARM loan can enjoy financing up to 95 percent.
The jumbo mortgage allows homeowners to go past the limits of the conforming, guaranteed loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This is valuable when purchasing an especially large home or securing a more modest one in especially competitive real-estate markets. Borrowers need to have both good credit and a robust portfolio of assets when applying, but those who qualify can enjoy competitive rates in line with those offered by conforming, government-backed mortgages.
FHA loan and Down Payment Assistance
The Federal Housing Administration offers loans geared toward first-time home-buyers and those with lower incomes. Benefits include down payments as low as just 3.5 percent and easier qualification standards than those set for traditional loans. Guild also emphasizes connecting customers with county-level Down Payment Assistance programs, which help home-buyers in specific locales by effectively lowering down payment requirements. Guild maintains a strong network of connections with the government departments that facilitate these loans and grants.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers specialized financing for home-buyers intending to live in rural areas. The agency’s definition of rural is broad, with more than 95 percent of homes in the U.S. meeting the qualifications. With these types of loans, down payments reach as low as zero percent, while ongoing benefits include lower rates than many other mortgage options. This is a compelling option for those considering a home in a qualifying area who meet the other loan requirements.
Guild offers online home loan applications as well as those through more traditional means. The application process, qualification, and quotes are provided through a secure account system, with a pre-qualification calculator available to anyone who wants to determine eligibility before starting the application process. A variety of informative articles are also available for prospective and current homebuyers and sellers, along with additional calculators to aid in determining such things as whether to rent or buy as the best approach to refinancing.
Guild Mortgage is a top performer in JD Power’s Primary Mortgage Originator rankings for 2017, earning an award from the organization. The lender received the highest possible ranking in the study, tying with Quicken Loans. Guild does not appear on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s list of mortgage companies with the highest number of customer complaints despite its large size and broad reach, another critical indicator of its operational quality.
Guild Lender Reputation
Guild Mortgage is an independent mortgage lender founded in 1960. It fits most closely in the large bank category based on the number of home loans it originated in 2017, roughly 66,000. The company is an Equal Housing Lender, and its Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System ID number is 3274. The NMLS entered into a final order and consent agreement with Guild in Montana in 2012 and issued a cease and desist order to the lender in Oregon in 2016. The reasons for these regulatory actions are not disclosed on the NMLS database. The CFPB, on the other hand, hasn’t taken any enforcement actions against Guild Mortgage.
While not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, Guild Mortgage’s headquarters in San Diego maintains an A rating with the organization. However, it has a customer rating of just under two stars, along with 41 customer complaints. Guild has paid attention to and resolved or addressed the vast majority of consumer complaints filed through the BBB, indicating a sustained level of attention to customer concerns.
Information collected on December 19, 2018.
Guild Mortgage Qualifications
Although not they are not the only determining factor, credit scores play a major role when it comes to qualifying for a home loan. A minimum credit score is a powerful early indicator of whether a particular loan is achievable in light of an individual’s finances and payment history.
Granite State Credit Union (GSCU) was founded in 1945 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Founder John Edward Grace, who previously worked as a city bus driver, put down an initial deposit of $15.
With the work put forth by John and his wife, Betty, GSCU achieved notability and success before merging, in late 2003, with the Acorn Credit Union. GSCU is currently a member of the New Hampshire Credit Union League (NHCUL) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA). It offers a selection of home loan products, including fixed- and adjustable-rate, VA, FHA, HARP, and first-time home-buyer loans.
GSCU Mortgage Facts
Services the state of New Hampshire
Offers conventional loans, such as fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages
Provides FHA and VA loans to qualifying individuals
Allows first-time homebuyers to make down payments of zero to three percent
Member of the NHCUL and CUNA
Allows borrowers to use gifted funds for the down payment and closing costs on certain loan products
Granite State Credit Union provides a variety of mortgage products to individuals across the state of New Hampshire. It offers traditional loans, such as fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, as well as government-assisted loans and options for individuals who cannot put 20 percent down on a new home.
Current GSCU Mortgage Rates
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GSCU Loan Specifics
Granite State Credit Union provides a variety of home mortgage products. Its offerings consist of traditional mortgages and government-assisted loans, as well as programs for first-time home-buyers and affordable home refinances.
Fixed-rate loans are the best choice for homebuyers who plan on staying in their home for an extended period. With fixed-rate loans, buyers can expect their principal and interest rates to remain the same throughout the loan’s lifetime. GSCU offers fixed-rate mortgages for lengths of 10, 15, 20, and 30 years.
An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) provides borrowers with an interest rate that may vary throughout the loan’s term. Typically, these mortgages have a lower initial rate than fixed-rate loans, giving potential customers more financial freedom when looking for a new home.
After the initial period, the rates and payments associated with these mortgages may rise or fall to adjust to market prices. Typically, these costs will fluctuate on an annual basis.
Many companies, including GSCU, provide a cap that prevents these costs from getting too high from one year to the next. GSCU recommends these types of mortgages for home-buyers who do not plan on staying in the house for the loan’s full term. GSCU offers 1/1, 3/1, 5/1, and 7/1 ARMs.
First-Time Homebuyer Loans
GSCU offers excellent deals on mortgages for first-time buyers. The credit union gives borrowers the flexibility to choose a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage and even provides no and low down payment options to first-time buyers. The No Down Payment mortgage allows borrowers to take out a 5/1 ARM and pay zero percent down on the home.
The Low Down Payment Adjustable loan offers a 3 percent down payment with a 3/3 ARM and the option to refinance into a fixed mortgage, if so desired. The Low Down Payment Fixed loan offers a 3 percent down payment and a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. For Low Down Payment Adjustable and Fixed mortgages, borrowers can use gifted funds for the down payments and closing costs on their homes.
Unlike some other credit unions, GSCU offers FHA loans to home-buyers who do not qualify for other loan programs. Borrowers may have a high debt-to-income ratio, low credit score, or the inability to put 20 percent down on the home. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) created these types of home loans to grant buyers the opportunity to invest in property. GSCU allows 100 percent of the closing costs to be gifted.
GSCU allows veterans, military members, and their spouses to apply for VA loans. These types of mortgages are backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Qualified individuals can make a low down payment on the home and keep up with affordable monthly payments.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) introduced the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) as part of their Making Home Affordable initiative. HARP allows eligible homeowners to refinance their mortgages into a lower interest rate to keep their finances secure. HARP provides this opportunity for individuals who otherwise may not qualify for refinancing due to their declining home value.
GSCU Mortgage Customer Experience
Granite State Credit Union offers a variety of online resources that help current and prospective borrowers research home loan options. GSCU’s website contains several mortgage calculators, which assist home-buyers in determining how much they can take out on a home loan.
It also provides information about their different mortgage products, which helps borrowers figure out what type of home loan is right for them. GSCU has a Refer-a-Loan option, which incentivizes borrowers who refer a New Hampshire resident or business owner to procure a loan with the credit union.
In exchange for this referral, both parties can receive $25 for consumer loans or $50 for mortgage and home equity loans.
GSCU Lender Reputation
Founded in 1945, Granite State Credit Union has provided affordable mortgage rates to New Hampshire residents for over 70 years. Its Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System ID number is 477276.
Since the credit union only services the states of New Hampshire, it does not have many online customer reviews. It is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and has no reviews on the site, but maintains an A+ rating.
Date Collected: December 18, 2018
GSCU Mortgage Qualifications
Although GSCU has flexible mortgage qualifications for individuals taking out FHA loans, its qualification requirements for individuals requesting other home loans are similar to mortgage industry standards.
First and foremost, the credit union prioritizes credit score when approving someone for a loan or for calculating their rates. FICO reports that the industry-standard credit score is 740. However, those with credit scores above 760 can expect the best mortgage rates.
Ease of approval
620 and below
No credit score
Buyers should typically expect to put 20 percent down on the home, unless they qualify for a government-assisted loan. In some cases, buyers can anticipate paying as little as zero to three percent on their mortgage down payment.
With certain types of loans, such as first-time home-buyer, FHA, and VA loans, GSCU allows borrowers to use gifted funds to make down payments and pay closing costs. However, those taking out a traditional fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage should anticipate paying these costs on their own. GSCU Phone Number & Additional Details
Freedom Mortgage is one of the largest lenders in the United States, with more than one million mortgage customers. The company was founded 28 years ago in New Jersey and is accredited by the region’s Better Business Bureau. Freedom offers several home loan products for both purchases and refinancing.
Freedom Mortgage Facts
Offers both fixed-rate mortgages and ARMs, in qualified and jumbo loans
Features government-backed programs from the VA, FHA, and USDA
Provides refinancing, including for cash-out purposes
Has multiple calculators and helpful information on its website
Operates in all 50 states, as one of the top 10 U.S. lenders by volume
Founded in 1990, Freedom Mortgage is a nationwide lender with a wide variety of loan products. Eighth in the U.S. in total originations, it specializes in VA loans and other government-backed offerings. The company is accredited by the New Jersey BBB and has an average customer review score between 2.5 and 3.
A fixed-rate loan represents the simplest financing model available to a borrower. Interest rates are locked in at the time the mortgage is issued, leading to predictable monthly payments over the whole term of the loan.
Freedom Mortgage offers loans on both 15-year and 30-year terms and recommends these products for people who intend to stay in one place for a long time. While adjustable-rate mortgages will have their interest payments trend upward, fixed-rate products guarantee stability.
Mortgage Adjustable-Rate Loans
Another category of conventional home loans, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) offer lower interest rates than fixed-rate loans, but those rates adjust annually after an initial period. For instance, a 5/1 loan holds its rate for five years, then adjusts every year. A 7/1 version has a seven-year opening before rates change. These loans are ideal for people who plan to sell their homes and move on relatively soon.
Mortgage Jumbo Loans
A jumbo loan is the same as a conventional loan, but for a greater amount. When a borrower needs to secure a larger loan than government agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will guarantee, the loan is classified as “jumbo”.
These types of mortgages may come with additional requirements or costs compared to smaller mortgages. The maximum loan amount for conventional and jumbo products differs by region and is higher in more expensive areas. Freedom Mortgage has stricter rules for jumbo loan borrowers regarding credit score, cash on hand, and debt-to-income ratio.
Mortgage FHA Loans
The Federal Housing Authority (FHA) backs loan programs designed to make home-ownership possible for more borrowers. These loans are not originated directly by the FHA, but rather by approved lenders. First-time homeowners often choose these affordable products. One of the primary benefits of an FHA mortgage is a potentially low down payment, with borrowers paying as little as 3.5 percent upfront.
Mortgage VA Loans
Freedom Mortgage prominently features its VA loan products. As with FHA loans, these mortgages are issued by lenders but backed by a government agency, in this case, the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The lender touts the fact that Inside Mortgage Finance, an authoritative industry publication, ranked it as one of the top VA lenders. VA loans tend to have low upfront costs. They may also help borrowers avoid paying mortgage insurance, which is a typical expense for individuals who make small down payments.
Cash-Out Refinance Loans
Cash-out refinancing is the process of replacing a partially paid-off mortgage with a larger one and receiving the difference in cash. The money can then be used to pay off a significant debt such as high-interest credit card balances, since mortgage interest rates tend to be lower.
To take advantage of the tax benefit, this type of refinancing can be used to pay for major home renovations. Freedom Mortgage offers cash-out refinancing in both conventional and VA versions.
The prospective home’s location determines some government-backed mortgage programs. For instance, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guarantees a category of affordable home loans.
These loans are designed to help people move into safe and well-maintained houses in rural communities and keep these small towns thriving. USDA Loans requirements are designed to include more buyers than other loan types, with more accessible income and debt ratios.
Freedom Mortgage is one of the largest lenders operating today. HousingWire noted that in the most recent data released by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, Freedom placed fifth, with $38.1 billion in loan originations. It is 11th on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s list of top loan originators.
Freedom Mortgage’s online experience is designed to help buyers learn about its products. This includes tools to calculate predicted rates and payments, as well as informational articles and explanations of the most common loan types.
Unlike some lenders, Freedom Mortgage offers information about minimum credit and debt-to-income requirements directly on its website. There is no information on how the lender’s average closing time compares to the national average of 44 days calculated by Ellie Mae.
Potential borrowers can start the home loan process on the Freedom Mortgage website, with separate options for purchasing and refinancing. The following financial information and documentation are needed to secure a home loan with Freedom Mortgage:
Name, date of birth, Social Security number, current address (for the past two years)
Employer name and 30 days of pay stubs
Two years of W-2 forms and tax returns (including personal and business returns for the self-employed)
Proof of income from alimony, child support, VA benefits, Social Security
Rental income proof for the past two years
Two months of bank statements
Value of cars, boats, life insurance, securities, and other assets
Outstanding loan information
Proof of divorce or separation, alimony, or child support payment data when applicable
Information on properties owned
Adverse credit information – bankruptcy, judgments, liens, collections, and more
Unlike some other lenders, Freedom uses real–person reviews as a major selling point, providing a rotating selection of quotations from satisfied customers on its homepage.
While the reviews on the lender’s New Jersey Better Business Bureau page are not as positive as its selected marketing materials, they are higher than for many other financial institutions. From 451 customer review scores, Freedom Mortgage has an average rating of 2.5/5.
The New Jersey BBB has accredited the company by since 2001, and currently has an A rating. The numbers of reviews and complaints are higher than for comparable companies, reflecting the lender’s stature in the industry.
Freedom Mortgage employees have been meticulous about answering or resolving BBB complaints, meaning the details of those issues are no longer public. Many of the negative reviews received in recent months come from customers dissatisfied with the service or care provided by the bank’s representatives.
Freedom Mortgage Lender Reputation
Freedom Mortgage Corporation was founded in 1990, and its National Mortgage Licensing System ID number is 2767.
The lender has had three recent actions against it according to the BBB’s files. In 2016, it settled with the Virginia State Corporation Commission regarding mortgage application terms disclosures.
Later in 2016, Freedom Mortgage settled with the Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks over excess charges relative to state law. That same year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Freedom Mortgage for not fully complying with the FHA loan program.
Information collected on December 19, 2018
Freedom Mortgage Qualifications
Freedom Mortgage’s requirements differ significantly by loan type. Some offer full details on the website, whereas borrowers must inquire further to learn the exact details for other loan types, such as USDA mortgages.
The following are some of the baseline requirements for the top mortgage types offered by Freedom Mortgage. While the lender emphasizes that some of these figures are flexible based upon borrowers’ other qualifications, they form a general picture of which types are best suited for each consumer’s financial profile.
Down payment requirements
Gift funds allowed?
Minimum FICO credit score
20% for no PMI (conventional)
Max 45% (Conventional)
Max 43% (FHA)
Max 41% (USDA)
Freedom Mortgage Phone Number & Additional Details
Meta description: Stay abreast of BECU mortgage rates and loan options for which you may qualify.
States Serviced: Washington and South Carolina.
BECU Mortgage Facts
Provides toolkits, calculators, and helpful online tools for members to use when interested in buying, building, or remodeling their homes, as well as refinancing their mortgages
Offers popular home loan options like fixed-rate, adjustable-rate (ARM), home equity, first-time homebuyer, jumbo, military & special, and construction
Extends unique mortgage loan options including FHA, land loan, VA home loan, and 30-year fixed high-balance loans, among others
Periodically reviews members’ accounts for money-saving opportunities by assessing increases in credit scores and whether members would then be eligible for lower rates
The BECU Home Rewards program pairs house hunters with member advocates and hand-picked real estate agents with local expertise, resulting in rebates on agent commissions, no origination fee, and cashback after closing, among other benefits
BECU mortgages may include home buying grants and down payment assistance
BECU has been in business 83 years and by 1989 had begun installing ATMs around the country, expanding its reach to 150,000 members and 200 employees. To this day, BECU continues to grow, with recent locations opened in South Carolina and Spokane, Washington.
As a credit union devoted exclusively to its members and their families, BECU’s services are dependent on eligibility requirements. Those include geographical location, as members must live or work in Washington, or select counties in Oregon and Idaho.
Furthermore, anyone looking to sign up with BECU must also be either employees or family members of those employed at BECU, Boeing Company, or a credit union. Association with various other local institutions – CUSOs, University of Washington Alumni Association, etc. – can also secure membership.
Compared to industry standards, BECU’s mortgage options and qualifications are in line with what is expected at other financial institutions. Where it stands out is in its exceptional customer service and reputation among members.
The multitude of free resources, specialist consultations, user-friendly web options, and organizational transparency policies provide members with a more personalized banking experience.
Current Mortgage Rates
BECU Loan Specifics
The mortgage loan products offered by BECU are divided into seven categories. Based on the differing structures of credit unions versus banks, BECU specifically caters to consumers interested in becoming not just customers but members of a financial institution.
As a not-for-profit cooperative, BECU returns profits to its members in the form of fewer fees, better rates, and additional personal services such as free financial education, to ensure that its members make smart financial decisions.
The mortgage loans available to BECU members include:
BECU fixed-rate loans
For prospective homebuyers expecting their income levels to remain roughly the same in the future, don’t plan on moving anytime soon, and prefer the stability and assurance of steady, predictable monthly payments, a fixed-rate mortgage may be the best choice.
Conventional fixed-rate loans are available in 10-, 12-, 15-, 20-, and 30-year terms, and no origination fee applies on the original purchase or on a potential refinance.
BECU adjustable-rate loans
Homebuyers who are unsure whether they will live in the same home 10, 20, or even 30 years from now may be better suited with an adjustable-rate mortgage. Payments are typically lower during the loan’s early years, and borrowers may qualify for a more substantial home loan amount, granting them more buying power. ARMs are available in 3/1, 5/5, 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 term arrangements. The first number in each of those pairings represent the period during which the ARM rate remains fixed, and the second number is the term during which it changes. So, a 5/5 ARM keeps a fixed rate for the first five years and then changes every subsequent five year period.
BECU jumbo loans
Jumbo loans through BECU are offered as both fixed- and adjustable-rate loans and afford borrowers the ability to finance homes that are more expensive than a conventional purchase.
The Federal Housing Finance Agency sets the minimum jumbo loan amount at $453,100, though this may be slightly higher in some states with base expensive real estate costs. Buyers interested in high-value properties can opt for a 15- or 30-year fixed jumbo loan or for 5/5, 5/1, 10/1, or 7/1 ARMs.
BECU first-time home buyer loans
As the name suggests, this loan is geared toward first-time homebuyers and, through the First-time Home Buyer Grant Program, loans can be fixed, conventional or 5/5 ARM. Eligible BECU members need only to make down payments of 1%, and BECU pays the rest.
Another $6,500 may be granted by BECU to help fund a down payment, and borrowers benefit from not having to pay origination fees. The design of this loan makes it ideal for younger borrowers unable to afford upfront down payments, who can benefit specifically from additional real estate agent support.
BECU VA loans
VA loans provide qualified veterans, reservists, active-duty servicemen and women, and eligible family members with financing in the form of fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgages with low or no down payment options.
Private mortgage insurance is not required, and closing costs and fees are minimal. Veterans can apply their VA Certificate of Eligibility (COE) through a BECU VA loan, and flexible credit qualification guidelines make it easier for borrowers with suboptimal credit scores.
BECU construction loans
Borrowers building homes themselves can benefit from BECU’s interest-only terms during the construction phase. Once the home is completed, mortgage terms convert to a permanent mortgage without having to file additional paperwork or pay extra fees.
Borrowers who hire professional builders can use BECU’s Hired Builder program, whereby mortgages may be designed to account for up to 80% of loan-to-acquisition costs, or the appraised value of the to-be-built home.
Home equity line of credit (HELOC) loans enable borrowers to access and leverage the existing equity in their homes for various financial obligations such as consolidating debt, making a significant home improvement, or purchasing other sizable assets. Through BECU, HELOCs are offered with no fees for origination, appraisal, title insurance, pre-payment penalty, escrow, and document mailing.
Designed as an open-end loan, homeowners can continue to borrow against their equity as they go, rather than taking out a single sum upfront. For credit union members who are uncertain what their eventual project costs may be or who have multiple assets that require financing, a HELOC can be preferable.
BECU Mortgage Customer Experience
BECU offers a host of easy-to-find member resources throughout its website. In addition to mortgage calculators, a native “Ask a question” search bar, and helpful blog articles dedicated to each of their primary services, the financial institution’s “BECU & You” page is full of interactive resources like infographics, webinars, self-paced courses, and instructional guides. Parents can also use these to engage their children with financial-literacy tips.
BECU also conveniently provides methods with which to connect with financial advisors in a more personalized setting. One of those programs is the free Financial Health Check, which is a one-on-one, real-time consultation with a specialist who helps members take action on budgeting, savings, investing, and debt management. Appointments typically last between 40-50 minutes.
Free classroom presentations are also available to Western Washington residents and are led by BECU financial educators. Classes can be customized to high school, college, or adult audiences, with topics ranging from risk management and credit to budgeting and first-time homeownership.
These member-centric services complement intuitive appointment-booking features and simple online applications. Borrowers applying for home loans online must sign E-consent forms and be prepared for the process to take about 20 minutes. A sample checklist of items needed to apply online include:
Social Security number
Current address of the past two years
Employment history of the past two years
Income information of all kinds (salary, bonuses, commission, dividends, etc.)
Price of the prospective home, as well as the requested loan amount
Address of prospective property
Bank and brokerage account information
Basic information about existing real estate assets
Basic information about existing debt obligations
Quotes are available via an appointment with a BECU mortgage advisor, and interested homebuyers can book online or call 206-439-5772.
BECU does not appear in annual J.D. Power Primary Mortgage Originator rankings, or in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s monthly complaint report.
BECU Lender Reputation
BECU enjoys an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, though the online directory shows that 43 members have filed complaints against BECU since 2015. Additionally, the credit union has a 1/5 rating from members who submitted reviews online through the BBB.
Based on internal quarterly surveys of BECU members’ satisfaction and loyalty, 70% of respondents indicated they would recommend BECU to a friend or colleague. According to BECU, the average score of other mortgage institutions is just 35%.
As a credit union founded in 1935 during the height of the Great Depression, BECU prides itself on a philosophy of “people helping people.” Notable associations and accreditations include being:
Federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
An equal housing opportunity lender
An approved Federal Housing Administration (FHA) lender
Certified by the Fair Mortgage Collaborative
NMLS ID 490518
*Information collected on November 14, 2018
BECU Lender Qualifications
Down payment requirement
Minimum credit score needed
Down payment assistance programs available?
Median income or debt-to-income requirements
NA – equity required
Mortgage qualifications are unique to the type of loan, the lender, and the borrowers, among other factors. While BECU mortgage rates most often list credit score requirements of 740 or higher, those are generalized guidelines that may not accurately represent the full scope or detail of each given mortgage.
Fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages typically require standard down payment amounts of 20-30%, although terms that include FHA assistance or mortgage insurance can bring that figure down.
Additionally, VA and first-time home buyer loans are designed to provide greater access to the real estate market to those unable to produce a 20% down payment.
BECU’s many home buying programs can defray some of the costs associated with homeownership, such as waived origination, appraisal, or refinance fees in some instances.
Originally an employee credit union formed in Long Island in 1941, Bethpage Federal Credit Union has expanded considerably over the last 75 years, now providing mortgages in every state except the Lone Star State.
Headquartered today in Bethpage, Long Island, the federally-chartered credit union provides a wide range of conventional, FHA, and jumbo loans, as well as HELOCs and fixed-rate home equity loans.
Established in 1941, Bethpage Federal Credit Union is now the 16th largest credit union in the United States
Services 49 states, though in-person service at a branch is only available in the Long Island, New York area
To apply for a loan, you must become a credit union member by opening a savings account with a $5 minimum deposit
Loan products include conventional, FHA, and jumbo purchase and refinance mortgages
HELOCs available for up to $1 million and fixed-rate home equity loans carry terms up to 30 years
Does not offer VA or USDA loans
History of Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Bethpage Federal Credit Union began its life in 1941, when employees of the aeronautical engineering company Grumman Corporation joined together in Farmingdale, Long Island to form the Grumman Plant Federal Credit Union. The enterprise eventually became Bethpage Aircraft Federal Credit Union in 1948 before adopting its current title in 1974.
In 2003, Bethpage was approved for the largest federal community charter in the United States, accelerating the institution’s growth and helping it become the 16th-largest credit union in the U.S. In 2016, Bethpage began serving customers in every state except the Lone Star State, though the credit union’s three dozen branches are all still located in the Long Island area.
With government-backed 15- and 30-year FHA loans that require borrowers put as little as 3.5 percent down, to jumbo loans that cover up to $5,000,000, Bethpage services a wide range of customers, including both first-time homebuyers and those making expensive property purchases. Becoming a borrower requires a credit union membership, which can be achieved by opening a savings account with as little as a $5 deposit.
Bethpage Federal Loan Specifics
Bethpage offers a relatively comprehensive portfolio of mortgage products, including fixed- and adjustable-rate loans and jumbo loans. A wide range of loan terms are available within those options, with borrowers able to choose between 10-, 15-, 20- and 30-year fixed rate loans, or 3/1, 3/3, 5/1, 5/5, 7/1 or 10/1 adjustable-rate mortgages. The credit union also provides government-backed FHA loans, though not USDA or VA loans.
Fixed Rate Loans
A fixed-rate mortgage comes with an interest rate that remains the same over the entire loan term, rather than increasing or decreasing with national interest rates. Bethpage allows borrowers a wide range of choices when it comes to this loan type, including a 10-year fixed rate mortgage with a 3.625 percent rate and 3.856 annual percentage rate, a 15-year fixed rate mortgage with a 4 percent rate and 4.161 APR, a 20-year fixed rate mortgage with a 4.375 percent rate and 4.502 APR, and a 30-year fixed rate mortgage with a 4.5 percent rate and a 4.593 APR. The shorter the term, the lower the interest rates, but the less time borrowers have to pay off the loan.
Adjustable Rate Loans
As opposed to fixed-rate mortgages that stay the same for the life of the loan, adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) begin with a lower interest rate that remains the same for a predetermined amount of time, after which it increases or decreases with national rates. Bethpage offers a 3/1 ARM, in which the interest remains the same for the first three years and then adjusts yearly with national rates for the remaining life of the loan. Bethpage also offers 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 ARM loans, which keep rates fixed for the first five, seven, and ten years, respectively. The credit union also provides a 3/3 ARM, in which the rate changes every three years, and a 5/5 ARM, in which the rate changes every five.
Federal Housing Administration-insured loans are government-backed mortgages designed to help Americans who would otherwise struggle to qualify for a traditional home loan. Bethpage offers 15- and 30-year FHA loans that allow borrowers to purchase a new home with as little as 3.5 percent down.
As of 2018, the limit on the maximum value assigned to a conventional loan is $453,100. A jumbo mortgage covers loans which exceed that maximum. Bethpage jumbo loans cover up to $5,000,000, through both ARM programs and 10-year fixed rate mortgages. The credit union also offers 15-year and 30-year fixed rate programs to cover loans of up to $2,500,000.
Bethpage Federal Mortgage Customer Experience
Bethpage Federal Credit Union allows borrowers to start their mortgage or home-equity loan application online, by visiting a branch, or by calling a loan officer. The credit union’s website contains many helpful resources that explain mortgage lending and provide financial counseling. Bethpage also offers an online first-time homebuyer center, which guides borrowers through the lending process and includes a closing costs estimator.
Despite its nearly national home loan program, Bethpage Federal remains primarily a regional credit union with deep ties to the Long Island community it serves, including sponsorship of the Bethpage Ballpark, home of the independent baseball league team the Long Island Ducks.
Bethpage Federal Credit Union’s Long Island headquarters has received an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, though the company itself is not a BBB-accredited business. Bethpage has also received a customer rating of roughly two and a half out of five stars, though that is based on just three customer reviews. There have been 18 customer complaints closed in the last three years, eight of which were handled in the past 12 months. It should be noted, however, that many of these complaints are related to the credit union’s other services, rather than the company’s mortgage products.
*Information collected on December 12, 2018
Bethpage Federal Credit Union does not publicize its minimum credit score requirements. However, Bethpage does provide FHA loans, which typically require a minimum FICO score of 580 to qualify for the low down payment advantage of just 3.5 percent down.
Additionally, to qualify for the lowest rates possible on all of Bethpage’s mortgage loan products, a minimum credit score of 740 is needed.
It is standard in the industry to require a credit score of at least 620. Anything below that number is generally considered to be poor, though it is possible to obtain loans with bad credit from certain lenders.
Ease of approval
620 and below
No credit score
While FHA loans can be obtained for as little as 3.5 percent down, most loans require a down payment that is closer to the industry standard of 20 percent.
Founded 132 years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Chemical Financial Corporation is the largest financial institution headquartered in its state.
Its subsidiary banking arm, Chemical Bank, has been in operation since 1917. Alongside personal and corporate banking, as well as wealth management, the bank offers a variety of loan products for individuals hoping to become homeowners or refinance their properties.
In this review, we will discuss the various home loan products offered by Chemical Bank and see how they compare to other top mortgage lenders in the U.S.
Chemical Bank Mortgage Highlights
Offers home loans and banking services in Michigan and Ohio
Participates in FHA, USDA, and VA programs
Has specialized products such as the Heart and Home loan
Oversees financial literacy programs and free mortgage consultations
Enables online pre-qualification and loan applications for registered users
Allows borrowing for new construction, cash-out refinancing, and more
History of Chemical Bank
Founded in 1917, Chemical Bank is a subsidiary of Chemical Financial Corporation. The bank serves borrowers in Michigan and Ohio and offers a number of personal and commercial banking products alongside its loans. The lender has many government-backed mortgages, such as USDA, FHA, and VA offerings, in addition to specialized programs such as Detroit’s Heart and Home.
The bank has an A+ rating from the Michigan BBB but is not accredited and has no user reviews.
A conventional fixed-rate loan is great for borrowers who want to pay the same rate throughout the life of the loan. These are available at different term lengths, with differing interest rates based on what the borrowers have chosen. Chemical Bank offers multiple repayment options for its fixed-rate mortgages.
As a contrast to fixed-rate loans, lenders (including Chemical Bank) offer adjustable-rate mortgages. These ARMs act like fixed-rate counterparts for an initial term, and then the rates adjust every year. The initial rates are usually lower than those available for fixed-rate products, but when they begin readjusting, can get considerably more expensive. Chemical Bank suggests ARMs for borrowers who intend to spend five or fewer years in their new homes, want to make extra principal payments, or are interested in lower payments to begin with while anticipating increased income later.
There are specialized loan products available for borrowers who want to purchase land and build on it, rather than buying a home that already exists. These mortgages from Chemical Bank are designed to simplify the construction process, with only one closing instead of separate meetings to fund each step of building the home. While the primary offerings are ARMs, Chemical Bank does note that fixed rates may be offered.
Jumbo loans are a category of loan larger than the maximum amount backed by federal lending agencies. These are necessary products when lenders want to purchase homes and property with higher market values. Chemical Bank’s jumbo offerings include construction loan programs, to help buyers turn a plot of land into a comfortable new home.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a category of loan especially for individuals who are interested in buying homes in small towns and rural communities. Getting a rural development loan from Chemical Bank is an option for borrowers seeking to move into less populated areas in Michigan and Ohio. These loans’ advantages relative to more standard ones include simpler qualification terms, and potentially, 100 percent financing.
Current and former members of the military, as well as members of their immediate families, may qualify for VA loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Chemical Bank is one of the financial institutions that offer these products. There is no FICO credit score minimum to receive a VA loan from Chemical Bank, and borrowers don’t have to pay for mortgage insurance on these loans.
The Federal Housing Authority backs loan programs that are intended for borrowers who don’t necessarily have the readily available funds to make a down payment. Receiving a loan to purchase a first home is a goal for many individuals whose income may not support a conventional loan, and Chemical Bank’s FHA offerings can suit these borrowers.
When homeowners refinance a home, taking out a new loan at a higher value and receiving the difference in equity, this is known as cashing out. It is an excellent way to pay off a large debt immediately with the money received or to pay for another large-scale and current expense. This is because interest rates on home loans are typically lower than for credit cards or other types of debt. Chemical Bank offers cash-out refinancing as a feature of some of its specialized loan products, such as VA loans.
Chemical Bank Customer Experience
Chemical Bank offers an online qualification form for mortgages, whether they are seeking the loan with or without a mortgage loan offer. The bank also has financial literacy programs available. Some of the special loans offered through the bank have online APR rates listed while acknowledging that the actual rates offered will be based on the credit scores of the borrower in question.
The bank does offer free pre-qualification processes to determine how much a person is eligible to borrow, as well as free mortgage consultations. There is information about all of the many loan types offered by the bank, including specialized programs such as the Heart and Home Program, which is aimed at individuals in the city of Detroit and provides assistance with closing costs. As the bank does not list its average closing time, it’s unclear how it compares to Ellie Mae’s national average of 44 days.
Unlike some other financial institutions, the online features offered by Chemical Bank don’t include loan rate calculators for its mortgage products, though consumer and auto loans are explained in greater detail. Speaking with loan officers directly appears to be the primary way to receive comprehensive information.
Chemical Bank Lender Reputation
The Better Business Bureau in Michigan, reviewing the headquarters location of Chemical Bank, has not registered any consumer reviews for the institution. Therefore, there is no average user score available for the bank. While Chemical Bank has a BBB rating of A+ based on its responses to consumers, it should be noted that the organization does not accredit the bank.
There have been four registered consumer complaints against the bank, with three answered and one resolved. These are mainly related to Chemical Bank’s consumer checking products instead of its mortgages and home loans. It is difficult to ascertain the general customer attitude toward the institution with such a small group of reviews, many fewer than are typically available for larger banks.
Qualifying for a loan from Chemical Bank depends on the kind of product in question. The bank offers a variety of financial products, including multiple versions specifically designed for individuals who do not meet the standard mortgage qualification requirements like credit score. Due to the lack of information publicly available on the loan products, it’s clear that potential borrowers will have to speak directly to representatives for more details.
ESL Federal Credit Union was founded in 1920 as Eastman Savings and Loan in Rochester, New York, by George Eastman, a 20th-century philanthropist and entrepreneur. Eastman was one of the inventors and businessmen behind Eastman Kodak Company, which later grew to be one of the world’s biggest corporations.
ESL initially only served Eastman Kodak Company employees; a primary purpose behind starting the financial institution was making home buying possible for employees. Over time, the membership grew to include others living in the Rochester area.
ESL’s loans span a wide variety of different mortgage options including fixed- and adjustable-rate loans, FHA, Jumbo, Investment, Home Possible, First Home Club, Home One, and Home Equity Financing Combination loans. In this review, we will discuss how ESL is rated, as well as how they compare to other top mortgage lenders.
ESL Mortgage Highlights
Fixed and adjustable-rate, FHA, Jumbo, and other mortgage options available
Many different alternative loan options available for home buyers with limited credit, credit challenges, and difficulty qualifying for traditional loans
Jumbo loans available for purchasing homes in high-value real estate markets
First-time homebuyer options
45-day rate lock allowing borrowers time to shop for a home
Some loan options don’t require private mortgage insurance (PMI)
States serviced: Located in New York State, ESL’s focus is the Rochester, New York, area. Loans are available for purchasing homes in the Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates counties.
History of ESL Federal Credit Union
Entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman founded ESL Federal Credit Union in 1920 as Eastman Savings and Loan, a financial institution for employees of Eastman Kodak Company. ESL was intended initially as a financial resource for workers who wanted to purchase a home, build savings, and safely set aside their money for a rainy day. Three thousand five hundred employees signed up to be members during the first week of ESL’s existence. In 1996, Eastman Savings and Loan became ESL Federal Credit Union. Shortly after, membership was opened to others than Kodak employees and their families, and Rochester area residents could now join. As one of the largest credit unions in the State of New York, ESL has $6 billion in assets and ranks in the top one percent of credit unions in the US by size. ESL offers a variety of different loans including fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages, FHA, Jumbo, First Home Club, and others.
ESL does not currently have a Trustpilot score. The credit union’s BBB rating is A+ with customer reviews averaging 2/5 stars.
Loans Offered by ESL
ESL’s product offering includes the following:
ESL offers fixed-rate loans that help borrowers lock in a low rate for the life of the loan. Monthly payments stay the same until the loan is completely repaid, making this an excellent option for borrowers who want a consistent payment amount and plan to keep their home for several years. ESL offers 10-, 15-, and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. Credit, income, asset, and other requirements vary.
Loans with adjustable rates start with a single rate that is typically low during the initial fixed period, but market conditions can increase the mortgage rate and result in a higher monthly payment, once the adjustable term kicks in. The payment could also decrease, though, if mortgage rates go down over time. Borrowers should know that monthly payments may be different from what they originally expected. Adjustable-rate mortgages may be a good option for applicants who plan to sell or refinance soon after purchase.
FHA Mortgage Loans
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans from ESL are government-backed and offer more affordable financing with low monthly payments and low down payments. Applicants who are qualified may only need to put 3.5 percent down to purchase a home.
Designed for home buying in high-value markets, jumbo loans are for applicants who need large loans, generally greater than $450,000 total loans.
Borrowers can obtain two different types of financing that can be used together to fund a home purchase. With a mortgage and a separate home equity loan, buyers can qualify for a more expensive property or get cash while purchasing a home. This could be a good option for applicants who are buying in a high-value area or need to fund a significant remodel to the property.
Investment Property Loans
Borrowers looking to purchase a rental or other investment property may benefit from an ESL investment property loan. 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and balloon payment loans are available. A minimum down payment is required, and applicants must meet ESL’s qualifications to obtain the loan.
First Home Club Loans
Applicants who are first-time home buyers may be eligible for this mortgage program that offers a grant towards closing costs and down payments. The program accepts a limited number of participants every year, so borrowers will have to meet its somewhat stricter eligibility requirements. Over a ten-month period, borrowers make regular deposits that are then matched by grant funds and can be used towards a home purchase. A homeownership education class is required as part of the program.
Home One Loans
This is a loan option designed to make homeownership more affordable and available for borrowers. Special options for obtaining a down payment are allowed, such as using cash gifts from friends and family. One of the qualifications for the program is taking a homebuyer education course.
Home Possible Loans
Credit history requirements for this loan product are flexible, and loans are available for borrowers with non-traditional qualifications. A homebuyer education course may be required.
ESL Mortgage Customer Experience
The credit union has many different mortgage products available and fairly extensive loan information on its website for applicants who want to learn more about home loans and refinance. Borrowers can apply for a loan by visiting the ESL site, contacting a loan officer, or visiting a branch. Applicants can view rates online, use a financial calculator to get estimates, and learn on the ESL website about various loan options. To get a full quote, applicants may have to share personal information about their identity and credit history.
To get started, applicants should schedule an in-person appointment, call the credit union, or begin an application for a loan online.
ESL has limited reviews online, but the information that does appear is generally positive. The Small Business Administration ranked ESL the top Rochester-area lender for small businesses in 2018. Making the 2018 list, the lender was also ranked fourth in the Best Workplaces in Financial Services and Insurance list prepared by the Great Place to Work Institute.
Documentation for mortgage loan applications is required, which is typical. Applicants must demonstrate that they can afford the monthly payments and repay the loan with a low risk of default. To prove this, they may be required to submit bank statements, W2 forms, tax returns from previous years, pay stubs, asset documentation, and other evidence. Requirements and credit standards do vary by the type of loan at ESL. Mortgage officers try to work with applicants to determine their ability to repay.
The Reputation of Eastman Savings & Loan
Generally, the information that is available about ESL appears to be positive. The Small Business Administration ranked ESL Federal Credit Union as the top Rochester-area lender for small businesses in 2018. Making the 2018 list, the credit union also ranked fourth in the Best Workplaces in Financial Services and Insurance list prepared by the Great Place to Work Institute.
Currently, ESL does not have a Trustpilot score. The credit union’s BBB rating is A+ with customer reviews averaging 2/5 stars.
*Information collected December 11, 2018.
The chart below illustrates how credit score plays a role in determining the approval of an applicant.
Ease of approval
620 and below
No credit score
For borrowers with credit scores of 760 or higher, getting a mortgage loan offer and having multiple available options should be reasonably easy. Applicants with scores in the 700 to 759 range may not necessarily qualify for the most favorable loan options, although they are likely to have at least a few different choices. Borrowers with “fair” credit may want to consider applying for alternative loan programs at ESL and may have limited opportunities. Getting a mortgage at ESL may be tough for applicants with low credit scores or no credit history.
To get the best mortgage options and qualify for the most offers, borrowers should bring in sufficient documentation of their assets and income for loan officers to review.
Debt to Income Requirements
ESL typically offers the best loan terms to applicants with debt-to-income (DTI) ratios that are 35 percent or less. While applying with higher DTIs, borrowers should consider asking about ESL’s alternative and government loan programs, to qualify for the best available offers.
Likelihood to get approved by lender
35% or less
50% or more
Phone Number & Additional Details
Homepage URL: https://www.esl.org/ Company Phone: 1-800-848-2265 Headquarters Address: 225 Chestnut Street, Rochester, NY 14604
Hills Bank was founded in 1904 in Hills, Iowa as a local savings bank. Surviving the Great Depression and continuing to serve locals, Hills Savings Bank became Hills Bank and Trust Company in 1934. While the bank itself is over a hundred years old, much of its growth has happened since the 1980s.
Hills Bank’s mortgage options include fixed- and adjustable-rate conventional loans, FHA, VA, IFA, USDA, lot, construction, bridge, and other mortgage loan options.
In this review, we will discuss how Hills Bank stacks up against the competition. Find out if Hills Bank is a good option for your next mortgage.
Hills Bank Mortgage Highlights
Fixed and adjustable-rate, FHA, VA, IFA, USDA, lot, construction, bridge loans, and other mortgage options
100 percent financing loans available
Hills Bank is one of Iowa’s largest independent banks
A variety of local and state mortgage assistance programs and special loan options are available
Pre-approval offered, so borrowers know what they qualify for as they shop for a home
Medical and dental resident mortgage program available
Flexible appointments with loan officers are available, even on Saturdays
States serviced: Located in Iowa State, serving customers in three different counties, Johnson County, Lin County, and Washington County. Branches are located in four different cities: Lisbon, Marion, Cedar Rapids, and Mt Vernon.
History of Hills Bank
Hills Bank, founded in 1904 in Hills, Iowa, is one of the state’s largest independent banks. Surviving the Great Depression, the bank continued to grow and serve local people after many other Iowa banks failed. Hills Bank was initially a savings bank, but quickly expanded services and decided in 1934 to become Hills Bank and Trust Company in response to the changes. The lender has been around for over a hundred years, but Hills Bank’s growth was limited by Iowa banking laws until the 1980s. With the opportunity to expand to other areas now available, Hills Bank rapidly grew and started operating outside Johnson County with new branch openings.
Hills Bank has a variety of flexible loan options for borrowers, including many state and local loan types designed to promote economic growth and stability. Applicants can learn more about Hills Bank mortgages from their online Mortgage Resource Center. To apply for a Hills Bank mortgage, borrowers will need their most recent pay stubs, two of their most recent bank account statements, last year’s w-2’s, and a signed copy of a purchase agreement for the home the applicants plan to buy if they’ve already chosen a property. These requirements are typical for home mortgage applications.
Currently, Hills Bank is not reviewed on Trustpilot and does not have an overall BBB rating or reviews, although individual branches may have review pages.
Loans Offered by Hills Bank
The following types of loans are offered by Hills Bank. Each type of loan has different characteristics that will help you determine if it is the best option for you.
With fixed-rate mortgages, borrowers know what to expect because their loan payments and rates remain the same every month for the life of the loan. This is a fantastic option for applicants who want to lock-in a low rate or keep the same home for several years. At Hills Bank, borrowers can apply for 15 and 30 year fixed-rate loans.
Adjustable-rate mortgages have rates that are subject to change with market conditions. While these loans may start with one rate, that rate may go up or down later. This can cause mortgage payments to increase or decrease without warning, potentially leading borrowers to end up paying more for their home than they expected. Applicants who are planning to stay in their home for only a few years or who plan to sell or refinance in the near future may benefit from an adjustable-rate mortgage.
FHA Mortgage Loans
Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans from Hills Bank are backed by the U.S. government so they offer more affordable financing options. These mortgages and refinance loans provide low monthly payments and typically offer lower down payment options. Applicants who meet the qualifications may pay as little as 3.5 percent down on a fixed- or adjustable-rate FHA mortgage.
Veterans, members of the armed forces, and surviving spouses may apply for a VA loan. These loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and offer an affordable loan opportunity with more favorable terms than what conventional loans provide. Borrowers may qualify for a low or no down payment loan with a fixed or adjustable rate. Options that don’t require private mortgage insurance (PMI) are also available.
Construction or Lot Loans
Borrowers who are buying a new home and need a mortgage to fund the construction may benefit from a construction loan. The Hills Bank loan is approved and provided in advance so the builder can begin working on the new home right away. Lot loans are also an option, allowing borrowers to purchase land that doesn’t have a structure or home constructed on it yet.
For applicants buying a home and selling their old property, bridge loans provide the funding to transition from one home to another so borrowers have a down payment before their home sells.
Iowa Finance Authority (IFA) loans are state government-backed mortgages offering affordable home financing for Iowa residents. As little as 3 percent down or no down payment loans are available through this program. Down payment, first-time homebuyer, and repeat homebuyer assistance are also options for qualifying applicants.
Hills Bank offers a special loan program for borrowers who are medical or dental residents.
Mortgage Customer Experience with Hills Bank
Hills Bank has many different loan options available for customers and substantial loan guidance on its website for borrowers interested in learning more about mortgages and refinance options. Borrowers can visit the Hills Bank website and request an appointment with a loan officer to get started and be considered for pre-approval. Applicants may start the pre-approval process over the phone or with a mortgage lender, but no online application is available at this time. Sample rates are posted online on the bank’s website, although online quotes are not available.
Typically, Hills Bank applicants will need information such as recent pay stubs and bank account statements to apply or get pre-approval. They may be required to submit bank information, W2 forms, tax returns from previous years, pay stubs, asset documentation, and other supporting evidence for their applications. The exact requirements will depend on the type of loan and the borrower’s credit situation.
Hills Bank Has Limited Reputation Information
Right now, Hills Bank is not listed on Trustpilot and doesn’t have a main BBB page or rating. Little news is available and few reviews are posted about Hills Bank.
With credit scores of 760 and higher, borrowers typically have the best chance of getting the loan they want and should have several different options to choose from.
Applicants with scores between 700 and 759 may not qualify for the most favorable options, but should have a few different loans to choose from.
Borrowers with “fair” credit may need to consider an alternative loan option through Hills Bank and may not be offered the best loan choices. Hills Bank does have loan options that borrowers with no credit history or low credit scores may qualify for, but there are typically few choices available for these applicants.
For the best possible loan options at Hills Bank, it helps to have substantial evidence of income and assets for a loan officer to review.
The most favorable terms are typically offered to borrowers with debt-to-income (DTI) ratios at 30 percent or less. Applicants applying with higher DTIs should consider asking about Hills Bank’s alternative and government-backed loan programs in order to get the best offers possible.
Likelihood to get approved by lender
35% or less
50% or more
Phone Number & Additional Details
Homepage URL: https://www.hillsbank.com/ Company Phone: 1-800-445-5725 Headquarters Address: Hills Bancorporation, 131 E Main Street, PO Box 160, Hills, Iowa 52235
Founded in 1976 and taking the name Costco in 1983, this national warehouse club retailer has become a favorite for members due to the balance of price and product quality offered. Costco allows both members and non-members to enjoy the use of its home loan marketplace. Its partnership with many loan providers leads to an end product of strong Costco mortgage rates and a variety of loan products, including FHA, VA, and jumbo loans alongside fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages.
Membership-only warehouse club that emphasizes value and quality among the many products it offers to its shoppers
Although mostly known for in-store shopping, Costco offers a variety of other services ranging from vacation packages to insurance and mortgages
Costco doesn’t provide the loans directly; instead they created a marketplace that connects interested individuals with a number of home loan providers approved by the company
Members benefit from a variety of Costco mortgage rates and some lower costs, such as a members-only hard dollar cap on loan origination fees that can otherwise be assessed as a percentage of the total loan
Users of Costco’s mortgage rates marketplace don’t have to be members
Costco’s loan program is managed entirely online; there are no physical locations to visit
Costco has offered a variety of cost-effective services to members since it was founded in the 1970s. The company does not have any notable internal experience originating or providing loans, but it does have a long track record of partnering with trustworthy, reputable external agencies to provide a number of services outside of retail sales to its members. It is also well-known for the level of service and support it offers to its customers. Costco has a very positive reputation and strong reviews for its mortgage program in particular.
The Costco Mortgage Program offers access to a variety of lenders to members and non-members, although certain members-only benefits will likely make some prospective home buyers consider signing up. Although not a lender in and of itself, Costco offers a centralized marketplace where users can receive detailed initial quotes, request more information, and even lock in a rate without a traditional preapproval process. While program participants should always be careful to vet the individual lenders they choose to work with, the Costco Mortgage Program is a trustworthy place to start.
Current Costco Mortgage Rates
Costco Loan Specifics
Costco mortgage rates are highly variable in many cases, due to the full range of lenders to which the company and its managing partner, First Choice Loan Services, offer access.
This means that a variety of individuals and families, across many demographics, can find the loan product that best addresses their needs and takes advantage of any unique attributes they may have, such as status as an active-duty service member or veteran, or qualification for a Federal Housing Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture loan. Rates, terms, and conditions can vary significantly based on the specific financial institution with which you choose to partner.
In all relevant cases, members benefit from a cap on loan origination fees of $350 for Executive members and $650 for Gold Star and Business members, a significant difference from the one percent of total loan value commonly assessed.
Users of Costco’s loan marketplace have many options available, including:
Costco Fixed Rate Loans
As a product that offers long-term dependability concerning monthly payments and budgeting considerations, fixed-rate loans are an excellent choice for those who plan to stay in the same home for a significant period of time and find the terms and conditions offered to be favorable. Costco offers a variety of conventional loans from many different providers. Low down payment options are available, as are better rates and terms in exchange for a higher payment.
Costco Adjustable Rate Loans
The differentiator driving adjustable-rate loans are flexible rates that don’t require refinancing. This can mean paying less than a fixed-rate mortgage during the early years of the loan, but also paying more later on, depending on market factors. Those who plan to move or refinance relatively soon after receiving the loan may benefit the most from this arrangement.
Costco Jumbo Loans
Jumbo loans are intended for mortgages above the maximum conforming loan limit set for conventional loans by the Federal Finance Housing Agency. That upper limit is $453,100 in 2018. These loans are especially useful for homebuyers who are either targeting an exceptionally large property or one in a very desirable real-estate market. These loans frequently require a 20-percent down payment, which is an important consideration to keep in mind.
Costco VA Loans
Qualifying active-duty service members, veterans, and surviving spouses benefit from the many favorable terms and conditions offered through a loan insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Advantages include low or no down payments, no need for mortgage insurance, VA counseling in cases of significant financial concern, and availability to those with a broader range of credit scores. Everyone eligible for a VA loan should consider this option and compare rates against other mortgages for which they qualify.
Costco FHA Loans
FHA loans help first-time home buyers through lowered qualification requirements and a reduced minimum down payment. With competitive rates and a required down payment of just 3.5 percent of the loan’s total value for credit scores of 580 and above, FHA loans help those who haven’t owned a home before they buy their first house.
Costco USDA Loans
USDA loans help homebuyers in rural areas secure mortgages, though some suburban homes may also apply. These loans offer easier qualifying requirements, such as a zero down payment requirement. Because the federal agency guarantees loans issued by local lenders, rates are low as well. For those looking for homes in qualifying areas, the USDA loan is an especially attractive option.
Costco Mortgage Customer Experience
As a collection of loan providers gathered into a single marketplace by Costco and First Choice Loan Services, the Costco Mortgage Program does not have an individual ranking on the J.D. Power U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study. However, once a possible loan is identified, program participants can check the J.D. Power study to find out more.
Costco’s reputation for strong customer service carries over into its home loan program. The company offers a detailed initial quote request engine on its website and doesn’t stop there. Applicants can choose to then receive more detailed quote information from a variety of lenders, and can even lock in one offered rate even if no official preapproval has taken place. Costco works to ensure that its rates are consistent between what is initially provided online and the final offered terms before a loan is officially agreed upon, both for members and non-members.
The program includes an all-purpose contact number, 800-793-0759, available between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Saturday. The website allows interested homebuyers to receive quotes from lenders quickly, but does not offer much specific information or guidance except a detailed FAQ about the process – likely due to the many different financial institutions involved. The online nature of the interaction and lack of physical locations mean phone and online support is that much more important.
The initial rate request tool is robust and allows for the adjustment of many factors to compare initial rates and find the best quote possible. A Social Security number is not required for an initial quote.
Comments online about the service, such as those found through business rating site Trustpilot, are exceptionally positive. With no rating below four out of five stars and roundly supportive comments, it’s clear how users feel about securing mortgages through Costco.
Costco Mortgage Lender Reputation
The Costco Mortgage Program connects borrowers to lenders through an online marketplace. The Costco Mortgage Program earned a particularly high ranking on Trustpilot, with a 9.7 out of 10 rating, based on more than 500 reviews. Because Costco and First Choice Loan Services offer access to a variety of different lenders, there is no individual ranking for the program through the Better Business Bureau. However, ratings for individual lenders can be found easily through the BBB website.
Information collected Nov. 14, 2018.
Costco Mortgage Qualifications
Likelihood of Approval
760 or higher
Because the Costco Mortgage Program is an online marketplace that includes a large number of lenders and offers so many different types of loans, there is lots of flexibility involved.
Specific terms will differ from one lender to the next, and so will requirements. Still, understanding how credit scores impact rates and terms is essential. A review of common classifications can help develop an understanding of what to expect when seeking out initial quotes—generally, the higher the score, the easier it is to obtain whichever loan you’d like.
Consumers with lower credit shouldn’t abandon hope, however. Programs such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans are all good options for people with lower credit scores, and the many potential lenders available can make it easier to find a partner than by making individual inquiries from one bank to the next.
Costco Mortgage Phone Number and Additional Details