At the onset of the pandemic, interest rates dropped dramatically. The result? A flurry of activity in the banking world as many decided to refinance their homes.
The mortgage team at Farmers National Bank was kept especially busy, thanks to the popularity of their contactless mobile mortgage app. The app puts the power in consumers’ hands and is in itself an education on how the home loan industry works.
With the Farmers Mobile Mortgage App, you can start a loan application from anywhere. You can find and contact a lender, calculate loan payments (whether you’re purchasing or refinancing), safely scan and upload application forms and requested documents. You can check on the status of a loan request so you’ll always know where you are in the process.
Whether you apply for a home loan through the mobile app or online, every request goes to the same origination system. Customers simply create their own account, log in and get started. You can send documents through it securely, receive all of your disclosures and e-sign everything.
“We’re one of the only banks that I know in all of our markets that has this,” says Mike Marzich, Vice President, Mortgage and Consumer Loan Manager.
The company invested in the technology over the past several years, without having any idea that something like COVID-19 was going to come along, let alone that it would have such an impact on business. “Contactless” does seem to be the new word for this year, says Marzich.
“Luckily we invested in the technology so we had a huge spike in mortgage volumes this year—not just because of rates, but I believe because of our technology,” he says. “Everybody has a smartphone and let’s face it, people are always looking for the latest technology. What’s more convenient than doing it right on your phone?”
Other benefits of the app include speed and convenience. You can do everything from home, on your phone or through a tablet. Documents are sent back and forth electronically and there’s no need to print anything out. You no longer need to wait for the mail or worry about sensitive documents getting lost or being opened by a third party.
“There’s a lot of personal information on a mortgage,” says Marzich. “When you’re giving your information to us, you know it’s secure. You’re not calling someplace and sending your information to California. We all live and work in the communities we serve.”
Low interest rates the catalyst for first-time homebuyers
The low interest rate environment sparks refinances and purchases. “When the rates go low, that’s typically what happens. People tend to start thinking about either refinancing or moving,” says Marzich. “Though it was kind of a surprise with the purchase business.”
The bank noticed the change as soon as the rates fell in late February and March of last year. Since then, while refinances have begun slowing a bit, they’re definitely seeing more purchases.
“But now there’s an inventory problem. Realtors are struggling to find houses. They’ve got people who want to buy but not enough houses to sell,” says Marzich. “As of right now there is a shortage of houses in just about all of our markets.”
With so much beyond a buyer’s control it’s important to be as prepared as you can. When houses do come on the market, they’re often sold in just one or two days. You need to be ready to act so you won’t miss out on any opportunities.
“We tell all first-time homebuyers this when they want financial advice about how much they can afford: get pre-qualified. You can go on our website, call a loan officer, download the mobile app—however you want to apply,” he says. “All realtors want a pre-qualification letter before an offer can be put in.”
The bank will run your credit, tell you the amount you should be looking at and then give you a pre-qualification letter, at no cost.
Right now the bank is still offering $250 off closing costs, if you download their mobile app and apply for a home loan online.
“We have the technology. Whether it’s in person, through the Internet or however you want to communicate, Farmers can accommodate,” Marzich says.
To learn more, visit Farmers National Bank.