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Get Your Top Questions Answered

Top Frequently Asked Questions

How many types of mortgages loans are there?

There are a number of mortgage options you may be able to choose from, including:

  • Fixed-rate mortgages – mortgages with the same interest rate for the entire repayment term.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) – mortgages with an interest rate that will change or "adjust" over time.1
  • FHA loans – government-insured loans against losses that might result from borrower default. 
  • VA loans – mortgages for military service members and their families.
  • USDA / RHS loans – mortgages for rural borrowers who meet certain income requirements.
  • Conforming loans – mortgages that meet the guidelines of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac which consider loan amount, loan-to-value, debt-to-income, credit score and history.  The loan size is typically limited up to $424,100 on a single family residence, but may vary based on county.
  • High Balance loans – conventional mortgages where the loan amount exceeds the conforming loan limits. Specific high-cost area loan limits are established each year based on county (or equivalent) by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).  Loan size is typically greater than $424,100 and available up to $636,150.
  • Jumbo loans – mortgages with loan amounts greater than the conforming and conforming high-balance loan limits. These loans allow you to borrow more, but may require a higher credit score and a larger down payment.

I’m interested in applying for a Mortgage. What should I know?

There are a number of things to know (and do) before applying for a mortgage including:

  • You'll want to review your credit reports from each of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
  • You'll want to carry low credit card balances, or pay them off, along with any other outstanding bills, before applying for the mortgage.
  • Avoid closing current accounts or applying for new ones, as this can make lenders suspicious.
  • The more money you can afford to pay up front, the more likely you are to be approved.
  • Avoid changing jobs or quitting right before applying for a mortgage.
  • Rates can change while your loan application is being reviewed and processed. If you think the interest rates could rise, you may consider paying a "lock-in: fee to guarantee a good rate.
  • Along with a down payment, you should have funds set aside to cover closing costs, and (if necessary) pay for points.
  • Figure out your debt-to-income ratio. Lenders are unlikely to approve the mortgage for a house you can't afford.

How long are mortgage terms?

There are a number of mortgage loan terms: 10 year,15 year, 20 year, 30 year, 40 and 50 year fixed rate mortgages. For adjustable rate mortgages, you’ll typically find initial terms of 5 year, 7 years and 10 years.

What is a HELOC?

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) – A revolving line of credit secured by the equity in a home. It can be used for home improvements, debt consolidation, and other major purchases. A HELOC typically offers a draw period and a repayment period.

What is the difference between a home equity loan and a home equity line of credit (HELOC)?

A Home Equity Loan is a closed-end loan where you receive one lump sum payment and have a fixed interest rate. A Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) is a revolving line of credit where you can draw available funds out to use at any time during the draw period, up to the credit limit amount.

Buying a Home FAQs

What is an Interest-Only Mortgage?

With an interest-only mortgage, you only pay the interest for a fixed initial period, usually 5 or 7 years. After the initial period is over, your rate will become variable and will change annually based on changes in the index. Your loan payments will fully amortize for the remainder of the loan term. Your fully amortized payment be significantly higher than the interest-only payment To avoid payment shock, you may opt to refinance your mortgage or make a lump sum payment.

Why might I consider an Interest-Only Mortgage?

Consider an interest-only mortgage, if you:

  • Expect to sell or refinance the home within the next 4-5 years
  • Want a lower monthly mortgage payment
  • Reduce the cost of your mortgage

How do I know how much house I can afford?

In order to qualify for a mortgage, your total monthly payments should not be more than 28% to 44% of your monthly income. If you have excellent credit, your lender may allow the payments to be higher than 44%. It’s best to get prequalfied by a Mortgage Banker to determine how much you can afford.

Applying for a Mortgage: What do I do first?

Even before you go to your bank, get a copy of your credit report and check it for errors and any incorrect information. Any mistakes need to be disputed or resolved as they can cause a mortgage application to be rejected or lead lenders to charge a higher rate of interest.

Applying for a Mortgage: What paperwork will I need?

While your mortgage application is being reviewed, you'll be asked for employment and financial information. Be prepared with the following:

  • Your bank's name, address, account numbers, and previous three months of bank statements.
  • Three months of investment statements.
  • W-2s, pay stubs, proof of current employment, and two years proof of previous income.
  • Tax returns and balance sheets, if you're self-employed.
  • Any debt currently owed, including amounts due and account numbers.
  • Divorce papers, if they apply.

Refinancing FAQs

Can I refinance if my home is for sale?

No. But, you can refinance if your home has been off the market for at least one day or longer.

What happens if I cannot make a payment?

Process

Give us a call and let us know that you need assistance. Download the financial statement form "provide link" and mail it to us to get a jump start on the process.

Mortgages 1-866-377-3970 Option 1
Home Equity Line of Credit 1-866-377-3970 Option 2

Hearing or speech impaired customers can call TTY 1-800-243-3468 or use the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) by dialing 711 to connect with a TRS operator.

What if I find an error on my mortgage or my Home Equity Line of Credit?

Write to us, and we will respond to your request.

  1. Provide your name, loan number and property address
  2. Describe the problem and/or what account information that you want to receive

Residential Mortgages

Bank of the West
P.O. Box 3492
Omaha, NE 68102-3492

Home Equity Line of Credit

Bank of the West
P.O. Box 2078
Omaha, NE 68103-2078

Do I need to refinance with my current lender?

No. There is no rule that states that you have to refinance with your current lender.

Home Equity FAQs

Can my lender “suspend” or “reduce” my home equity line of credit (HELOC)?

Yes. Lenders are permitted to suspend or reduce a credit line. If this happens, Bank of the West will notify you of the reasons and will advise of anything you can do to reverse the action.

What questions should I ask a loan officer about a HELOC?


  • How is the rate calculated?
  • Is there a minimum draw requirement?
  • Is there an average balance that I'm required to keep?
  • Is there a minimum monthly payment?
  • Are there closing costs?
  • Is there an annual fee?
  • What happens at the end of the 10-year draw period?
  • Is there a prepayment penalty?

Is my HELOC like a cash reserve?

No. A HELOC is very different. Here's how:


  • You have a limited draw period during which to access funds.
  • The bank can change the agreement if conditions change, including "suspending" or "reducing" your HELOC credit line.
  • You must make monthly interest-only payments on any funds you withdraw during the 10-year draw period.
  • At the end of the draw period, you will no longer be able to obtain advances and the repayment period will begin. Your Account will have a fixed rate of interest during the repayment period, which begins when the draw period ends.
  • Your HELOC will come with specific terms and conditions. See the Important Terms brochure.

Is there a limit to how much credit I can receive for my home in a HELOC?

Yes. There are limitations in how much we lend in relation to your home’s market value, known as the maximum Loan to Value (LTV)2. Your credit line amount depends on the maximum LTV.

Construction Financing FAQs

Can construction financing be for a second home?

Yes. Construction financing is offered for both a primary and secondary home.

Who can I contact to get a loan?

Check our list of mortgage specialists to find one in your state.

When should I contact you?

You can call when you are in the planning stages for construction.

Programs and interest rates are subject to change. Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit subject to credit approval. Additional fees, conditions and restrictions may apply.

1Your monthly payment can increase or decrease substantially based on changes in the interest rate.

2A ratio used by lenders to calculate the loan amount requested as a percentage of the value of a home. To determine the loan-to-value ratio, divide the loan amount by the home’s current appraised value. The LTV ratio is used to determine what loan types the borrower qualifies for as well as the cost and fees associated with obtaining the loan.

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