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U.S. Bank: Your Digital Partner for Homeownership Journey


U.S. Bank: Your Digital Partner for Homeownership Journey
Purchasing a house can be a daunting task, especially with the added pressure of increasing interest rates, limited housing stock, and the looming threat of an economic downturn. U.S. Bank, with its extensive network of mortgage loan originators across all 50 states, is committed to guiding, preparing, and assisting customers through the home buying journey. As one of the top 10 mortgage loan originators in the U.S. by volume, U.S. Bank has a long history of helping individuals and families realize their homeownership dreams.

Fred Bolstad, who oversees retail home lending at U.S. Bank, brings over 30 years of industry experience and has witnessed numerous economic cycles that have influenced many people’s ability and confidence to purchase a home. Bolstad recently shared insights on how U.S. Bank is supporting prospective home buyers in achieving their homeownership aspirations despite challenging market conditions.

Q. With the housing market frequently making headlines, what are your observations from the field? The significant rise in interest rates in 2022, coupled with inflation, has reduced the purchasing power of money in the housing market. This has particularly affected first-time homebuyers who find themselves priced out of the market due to extremely limited availability of lower-priced homes.

This situation, although complex, allows us to engage with potential first-time homebuyers early on, ensuring they are well-informed, eligible, and ready to bid when the market conditions and their financial situation permit. Our primary objective is always to promote sustainable homeownership. It’s crucial that we assist first-time homebuyers not only with loan options but also with understanding the costs of maintaining a home.

Q. Do the current market conditions offer any opportunities for homebuyers? Certain aspects will always remain constant – people will continue to relocate due to life changes such as new job opportunities, retirement, or shifts in family circumstances. Homes will always be bought and sold.

While current market conditions have deterred some aspiring first-time homebuyers, an increasing number of down payment assistance programs and products are emerging that can significantly aid potential homebuyers in overcoming the hurdles to homeownership.

This summer, we introduced our unique Access Home Loan mortgage product, which offers up to a total of $17,500 in assistance for down payments and closing costs. Initially, this was made available in 11 markets, including San Diego and Oakland in California, as well as Milwaukee and Minneapolis, where there is a substantial potential to boost homeownership among underserved groups and communities of color.

There are also several long-standing bank and government programs that can assist buyers who meet income qualifications to purchase a home with as little as 3% down, or even less. These include programs like the U.S. Bank American Dream Loan, Veteran Affairs (VA) Loan, Federal Housing Authority (FHA) Loan, as well as Fannie Mae HomeReady and Freddie Mac Home Possible loans.

We have developed extensive training for our mortgage loan originators to concentrate on first-time homebuyers, given the plethora of programs and options available to assist them. If a buyer is not ready yet, we can assist them in becoming ready to buy.

Q. How is U.S. Bank assisting homebuyers in navigating the market? We appreciate when clients approach us in the early stages of their house hunting journey, allowing us to assist them in understanding mortgage options within their budget and getting them pre-approved.
In some instances, a client’s credit history, income, or existing debt can influence the loan amount and type of loan they qualify for, as well as aspects of the mortgage such as the required down payment, interest rate, or mandatory mortgage insurance.

One of the advantages of obtaining a mortgage from a full-service bank is that we can educate aspiring homebuyers on how to build and improve their credit, optimize debt, and save for a down payment. We can assist clients in becoming ready to buy if they are not ready when we first connect.

Q. What should homebuyers consider in today’s market? Look beyond interest rates: Contrary to popular belief, your mortgage interest rate may not be the most crucial factor. A monthly mortgage payment involves several figures, such as the price of the home and the loan term, and the interest rate is just one component of the equation.

Make your mortgage loan originator your ally: You don’t have to figure this out alone. Your mortgage loan originator can guide you in determining which loan options and programs are suitable for you and help you establish your timeline to achieve your goal.

Buy now, refinance later: This strategy is designed to assist buyers who are ready to purchase to secure their dream home now and potentially refinance in the future when rates decrease. It’s important to remember that no one can predict if and when rates will decrease or by how much. This means that for some buyers, rates may never drop low enough for a refinance to save them money, so part of sustainable homeownership involves ensuring that you are comfortable with your rate over the long term.

If you’re considering this option, discuss it first with your mortgage loan originator. They can assist you in crunching the numbers and weighing the risks versus rewards.
Q. With numerous options available for obtaining a mortgage, what distinguishes U.S. Bank? The journey to major purchases, particularly home buying, often begins with online research. U.S. Bank not only provides digital calculators to help you determine your affordability and locate a loan officer in your vicinity, but also enables you to complete almost the entire loan process online.

In recognition of our digital capabilities, Kiplinger’s has awarded us the title of “Best Mortgage Lender for Digital Tools” for two consecutive years. Our tools allow clients to fill out a loan application in approximately 30 minutes and monitor the status of their application in real time. They can easily manage tasks such as uploading documents and electronically reviewing and signing important documents. Our digital application portal also offers eClose, enabling clients to sign most documents electronically at their convenience.

After closing your mortgage loan with U.S. Bank, we continue to service retail-originated loans. Our award-winning digital platform assists you in enrolling in auto-pay and keeps you informed about your mortgage management. It includes a library of educational videos on escrow and year-end tax documents, and provides quick options to request payoff quotes and more. Clients can also co-browse or directly connect with a member of our dedicated team of mortgage loan servicers to learn more about and utilize programs and products related to their mortgage, such as mortgage relief, refinance, or other banking services.