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Important Things to Know Before Choosing a Home Loan Company

Buying a home is one of the most stressful yet exciting decisions in your life. It can feel overwhelming having to choose a home loan that fits your individual profile as a home buyer as well as a lender you can trust.

Which home loan company is right for you? Well, we may not know you personally, but we know where to start. Here are three important factors you should consider before you take the plunge and choose a home loan company:

Interest rates

When picking a home loan company, it is important to consider the loan rates offered. Some companies list interest rates online, making them easily accessible, while other companies require potential customers to inquire over the phone or in person to receive their personal rate numbers. Rates can change from day-to-day so keep in mind that even a company's most accurate estimate is not guaranteed until your rate is locked in. 

Loan types

There are a number of different loans that you may qualify for, several of which are detailed below in the FAQ section. Find the loan that works best for you and your individual situation. Additionally, it is important to understand which home loan companies offer the specific loan option that you are looking for so that you can move forward without any hiccups.

Customer service 

Because home loans are often difficult and complex, effective communication between the company and the customer is essential. When choosing a home loan company, you want to make sure that communication is going to work to your advantage so you won't be confused about the details of your home loan. Looking through company profiles, reading reviews, and contacting customer service will help you as a potential customer determine if the company's customer service meets your standards. 

What is a fixed-rate mortgage?

Fixed-rate mortgages, also called conventional loans, are one of the most common types of home loans. As the title of the loan suggests, the interest rate of this loan does not change throughout the entirety of the loan; the interest rate is decided when the loan is set up, and it will not differ in the loan’s lifespan. Because this type of loan has a fixed interest rate, it is easy to look for comparable rates.

The fixed interest rate can prove to be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how the market plays out. It can be beneficial to you, for example, if you have a rate of 3.8 percent and later the rates go up to 4.5 percent. You would have a substantially lower interest rate. However, it can prove to go the opposite way. You could have a fixed rate of 4.5 percent, but later on the rates go down to 3.8 percent.

What is an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM)?

Adjustable-rate mortgages are loans that generally have lower interest rates. However, these interest rates can change periodically, causing monthly payments to fluctuate. The loan begins with a fixed interest rate but after a set period ends, interest rates become unpredictable and may go up or down based on the market.

What is an FHA loan?

FHA loans are from the Federal Housing Administration and are government-backed. FHA loans often have lower interest rates and down payment requirements than other loan types. However, they require a mortgage insurance premium upfront as well as a monthly insurance payment. This type of loan gives homeowners additional safety when it comes to homeowners backing out on their mortgage loans. If a homeowner defaults on the loan, the FHA will provide a paid claim to the lender of the loan, giving homeowners extra protection.

What is a VA loan?

VA loans are provided by approved lenders and originate from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. VA loans are also government-backed and they are for active military and their families as well as retired veterans. The major benefit of VA loans is that if you qualify, you do not need to provide a down payment or an outstanding credit score.

What is a Jumbo loan?

Jumbo mortgage loans are home loans that exceed the limits created by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sibling organizations that have a significant place within the mortgage industry. Often referred to as non-conforming mortgages, Jumbo loans are a bit riskier because they aren’t guaranteed by the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac organizations, meaning the lender is the one who is responsible for any defaults that may occur. Jumbo loans can be in the form of fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages. A downside to consider with Jumbo loans is they require higher down payments than those of their conforming loan counterparts. 

How do I choose the best lender for me?

Every buyer's situation is different, but while reading customer reviews from the top-ranked lenders, you'll get a feel for which companies offer the most competitive mortgage rates and provide the best overall service.