5 online resources to help you start the mortgage process
Not surprisingly, more and more consumers – particularly millennials – want to acquire a mortgage online. Many banks (including Bank of the West) are investing heavily to make it increasingly easy for consumers to use the Web and mobile devices to research and apply for a mortgage loan.
Among consumers who received a mortgage in the past year, nearly 1 in 4 did so online, according to a research report from Accenture that I saw recently. The report’s findings were consistent with previous Accenture data showing consumers growing preference for online mortgages.
Certainly, there is rising interest in online mortgage applications. But if you’re new to home shopping or to online home and mortgage shopping, where do you begin?
Here are five simple tips to help get you started shopping for a mortgage online:
- Check your credit report. A good first step in the road to seeking a mortgage is to take a look at your credit report. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from each of the major credit reporting agencies. Go to annualcreditreport.com, the site approved by the federal government, to request a report. Through this free service you will not receive your credit score, but the report will list your creditors, show your outstanding loan balances, and your payments. Reviewing your credit report may help you spot errors on your credit profile that you’ll want to get cleared up so they don’t harm your credit score before seeking a mortgage.
- Calculate what you can afford. Online calculators are easy and fun to use. They are helpful for getting an estimate of how much you may be able to borrow and what your monthly payments may be on a given loan amount. Many lenders offer them. Bank of the West’s mortgage calculators and others are available here.
- Track interest rates. The rate a mortgage borrower receives is influenced by numerous factors unique to each borrower, so many times published rates on the Internet and elsewhere are for guidance only. If you want to keep an eye on interest rates and trends, one useful site is Mortgage News Daily, which also has news about the mortgage market.
- Get interest rate alerts. Many lenders share their rates on their websites as a guide for consumers considering applying for a mortgage. Many lenders, including Bank of the West, also allow website visitors to sign up for interest-rate alerts on a regular basis or when interest rates reach a set target. If you use our online calculator here , after you see potential interest rate options, you can sign up for email alerts about mortgage rates by clicking on the “Sign Up for Rate Watch.”
- Check your lender. Finally, when you find a potential lender, try checking its status with the National Mortgage Licensing System. Every mortgage banker or broker — and every organization that provides mortgage loans — is required to have a National Mortgage Licensing System number, or NMLS#. To help ensure you’re dealing with a licensed lender, check the NMLS database.