5 Ways to Streamline the Mortgage Process in Today’s Competitive Housing Market
June 12, 2023
In today's housing market, one word describes the experience for potential buyers: competitive. It's a challenging landscape marked by inventory shortages and changing interest rates that impact what buyers can afford.
“In this market, buyers have to be ready to move quickly,” says Tim Holman, Northwest Bank Vice President and Director of Mortgage Operations. “You don’t have time to hesitate when you find the property you want.”
A fast and seamless mortgage process can give you an advantage over other buyers and ensure you don’t lose out on an opportunity. Here are five tips Northwest Bank’s mortgage experts recommend to streamline your loan closing – and reduce the stress of home buying in a competitive market:
- Connect with a realtor and lender early.
Most homebuyers understand the importance of working with a realtor early in their search. A great realtor will provide guidance about prices in your local market, offer insight into specific neighborhoods and help you successfully negotiate a deal. However, it’s equally important to bring a lender early into the process as well.
“You don’t want to wait until you’re ready to put an offer on a home,” Holman says. Instead, connect with your lender at the start of your home-buying journey. Holman recommends being transparent with your lender about your financial situation — discuss what you’d like to purchase, how much you may need to borrow and any concerns you have.
“If you need to save two more paychecks to make a down payment, tell your lender that,” he adds. “They can help you through any challenges and make sure there are no surprises that could result in losing a deal.”
- Know all the mortgage options available to you.
In addition to connecting with a lender early, make sure you find a lender who takes the time to understand your finances and explain all your options.
“Your lender should provide solutions that benefit you, whether that's saving you money on an interest rate, reducing your monthly payment, or introducing you to a down payment program,” says Jim Colestro, Northwest Bank Executive Vice President of Retail Lending and Business Banking.
Indeed, shopping for a mortgage goes well beyond finding the lowest interest rate. And Colestro notes that a lower interest rate doesn’t always mean you’re getting the best deal. Buyers don’t want to uncover new mortgage options or find better loan terms in the ninth hour of the mortgage process. Work with a professional lender to ensure you know all your options and have your financing ready for when you find the house you want.
- Get pre-qualified for a mortgage.
Getting pre-approved or pre-qualified for a mortgage can give you an edge as a buyer. For example, you may outshine other buyers with similar offers because the sellers know you can complete the transaction.
To begin your pre-qualification, you can use an online calculator to determine your projected monthly payment. You may also want to discuss Northwest Bank’s QuickQual tool with your realtor, as it makes getting pre-qualified and providing documentation to sellers or realtors that much easier. The tool gives buyers electronic access to the mortgage pre-qualification document, which shows the maximum amount you can borrow based on your down payment and other financial information.
Buyers can go into the app and run scenarios about different loan amounts to fit with the properties they’re considering. You can also update your pre-qualification letter in real-time. For instance, you may need a letter that reflects a specific amount to make an offer over a weekend. With QuickQual, you can create that document immediately — and no one has to wait for the bank to open on Monday.
“In a competitive market, this can make all the difference,” Holman adds.
- Use digital document signing to streamline the closing process.
Meeting deadlines during the closing process for documents and other activities is critical: one missed deadline can jeopardize the whole deal. That's why electronic document signing processes such as Northwest Bank’s are a lifesaver. They allow you to sign most closing documents at a time that works with your schedule and life (which is often after business hours).
“Electronic documents give you the time to go through everything and make sure you really understand what you’re signing,” says Tony Pellegrino, Northwest Bank Consumer Direct Lending Manager. “You can do it at your pace and when it’s convenient.”
Digital closing options make document signing more efficient and enable home buyers to meet deadlines. Even better, there are only a few remaining documents that buyers must sign in person, giving you more time to ask your lender questions and ensure you're comfortable with everything you're signing.
- Remember, it’s still a people-to-people transaction.
The home-buying process is ultimately about the people involved. And as Pellegrino points out, “Technology should enhance the experience, not be the experience.” To that end, establish open lines of communication with your lender and realtor – and work with professionals you trust.
Holman says knowing that the lender you’re working with “has your back can make the process far less stressful and much more enjoyable.” A professional lender will collaborate with you and your realtor, offering the expertise that keeps the process moving forward and your financial needs top-of-mind.
Buying a home involves many moving parts and big decisions, often in a short amount of time. Leverage these tips to streamline your closing process. You'll gain an advantage over other buyers and confidence that you've chosen the right financing for your needs.
Interested in learning more about how to streamline the mortgage process? Connect with Northwest Bank's home lending experts today.