News & Press: Credit Union News

Great River Federal Credit Union on How to Choose a Home Lender

Monday, September 26, 2016  
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St. Cloud Times (September 26, 2016) - The housing market has seen many ups and downs in the last ten years. But experts now say that, after years of turmoil, the market is steadier with home values rising and plenty of buyers ready to invest. A recent article in the financial magazine Kiplinger estimated that home values will rise 3 percent from 2015 to 2016, a modest increase but one that’s right-sized for the market.

More home buying means more mortgages. Whether it’s your first house or your third, every consumer knows that a mortgage is one of the largest and longest loans you’ll ever have. So choosing your lender is an important, crucial first step.

One of the best—and first—questions for any potential home buyer to ask when interviewing lenders is to find out who you will be working with. The mortgage process typically takes 45-60 days from application to the date of closing. Specifically, how many people will you be talking to? How long will it take to get answers to my questions? And how is your personal information processed?

For many Central Minnesota homebuyers, a local lender is the best bet.

“We often have members come in after they’ve tried to find a lender online through an internet ad or other service,” said Tracy Mortenson, St. Cloud Mortgage Officer with Great River Federal Credit Union, “And they say, ‘I can’t get ahold of anyone. I’m so frustrated.’ Here, you have our direct dial and you’ll get me or one of my colleagues. The same professional will be with you the whole way, from start to finish.”

Great River Federal is a full-service lender, offering every personal banking service that large banks can but with the benefits of a member-owned credit union. And, with four locations and more than 14,000 members, it’s been a trusted financial institution for more than 65 years. With just a $5 investment, anyone that lives, works, worships, or attends school in Benton, Sherburne, or Stearns County, or has an immediate blood relative that is a GRFCU member, can join.

All Great River Federal’s mortgage loan processing is done in-house in their Sauk Rapids office. Another big plus: Mortgage officers that can issue a pre-approval right away.

“Many large banks have several people that need to sign-off on even the simplest pre-approval letter, setting back your buying process a few days, even a week,” says Michelle Kuklok, Lending Sales Manager at Great River Federal. “We can get you a pre-approval letter the day you start shopping for a new home.”

Costs are a big issue in home buying. Making sure you can afford the mortgage every month is crucial. Taking a look at online payment calculators, like those on Great River Federal’s website, can give you a quick gauge on how much of a house you can afford. Also, choosing a lender, like Great River Federal, that can be aggressive with interest rates can give you the best return on investment.

But don’t forget closing costs; they can add up quickly. Keeping fees low leaves more cash in your wallet – cash you’ll want to have as you make your new house a home.

“We’re one of the few financial institutions that offers no origination fee,” says Mortenson. “Origination fees can be 1 percent of the loan. On a $125,000 mortgage, that’s $1,250.”


Minnesota Credit Union Network
555 Wabasha Street N, Suite 200
St. Paul, MN 55102

(651) 288-5170
(800) 477-1034