FIRST TIME HOMEBUYER
TOOLS & RESOURCES

Take the first step towards owning a home

Shopping for a home is exciting, especially if you're a renter looking for your first home. While it may be one of the biggest purchases you make in your lifetime, we can help to simplify the financing process associated with your home purchase.

We're committed to helping you through the home financing process. We offer a variety of home loan programs as well as competitive rates and discounts. So, when you're ready to start your home-buying journey, contact us.

Ready to own your dreams?


Call 1-833-470-7334
TTY 1-800-659-5495

GET PREAPPROVED


Download "A Homebuyer's Guide to Mortgage Loans" (PDF)

Why choose Bank of the West?

  • Experienced Mortgage Bankers in convenient branch locations. Find a Mortgage Banker
  • Dedicated Mortgage Sales Center with convenient evening and weekend hours
  • Affordable home lending options to meet your unique financial needs
  • Gain access to available down payment assistance programs in select markets for borrowers who meet program guidelines
  • Plus, a rate discount with automatic mortgage loan payments for eligible Bank of the West checking or savings account customers1

Pre-house hunting tips:

  1. Get a copy of your credit report at annualcreditreport.com -- Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - to give you a free credit report every 12 months, but you have to ask for it. Review your credit report carefully. If you identify an error, contact the credit reporting agency immediately.

  2. Know your credit score – Your credit score is one of the most important factors when it comes to qualifying for a loan. Keep in mind that your credit score may vary somewhat among credit reporting agencies.

  3. Evaluate your assets, income, and liabilities - You should have a good idea of how much money you need to satisfy your monthly obligations versus your monthly income.

  1. Qualify yourself - By calculating your debt-to-income ratio (the ratio of your monthly debt obligations versus your monthly income) and factoring in a down payment, you’ll have a good idea of what you can afford, both upfront and monthly..

  2. Organize documents - When applying for a mortgage, you’ll have to provide asset and income statements, employment history, tax returns, W2s and other information as requested. Having this information readily available can help expedite the process.

  3. Figure out how much down payment you can afford – Even if you don’t have a lot of money saved for a down payment, there are low-down-payment and/or zero-down-payment home mortgage options available for those who qualify.

Differences between Prequalified and Preapproved

Preapproved

Preapproval is based on a higher-level analysis of your credit, assets, and income, so it is more involved than prequalification. You typically have a better chance of your offer being accepted as a buyer with a preapproval from a lender because much of your credit information will have been validated. After you get preapproved, our Mortgage Banker will provide you with a preapproval letter to show sellers, so that you can more confidently submit an offer. Keep in mind that your preapproval would be conditional, and subject to credit approval conditions that must be satisfied before your application reaches final approval and your loan closes

Prequalified

A lender can prequalify you after they discuss your financials (credit, income, debt and assets). Prequalification is quick and can usually be done in minutes. Prequalification is based on your credit report and score, but doesn’t include a verification of your income, assets or other factors related to creditworthiness. It’s an easy way to estimate the amount of a mortgage for which you could qualify, but it does not mean you will be approved for a loan.

Find the loan that’s right for you.

Bank of the West offers a choice of home loan options for first-time homebuyers. With so many different loan types available, choosing one may seem overwhelming. The good news is when you work with a Bank of the West Mortgage Banker, we’re here to answer your questions so that you can choose the best loan to fit your financial situation.

Common Loan Products

Fixed Rate Mortgage

A Fixed Rate Mortgage is a loan where the interest rate and monthly principal and interest payments remain the same throughout the term of the loan. This is one of the most popular types of home loans because of its predictability and stability from a budget standpoint, and because it protects the borrower from interest rate increases over time

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)

An Adjustable Rate Mortgage is a loan with an interest rate that fluctuates based on a publically-available interest rate index (such as LIBOR). Many adjustable rate mortgages have an initial fixed interest rate period, typically 3, 5, 7, or 10 years. After the fixed rate period has ended, your interest rate will reset periodically (usually annually). This means your interest rate and payment can go up or down based on the value of the interest rate index plus a margin.

Affordable Loan Products with Flexible Down Payment Options

Fannie Mae HomeReady® Loans

A Fannie Mae HomeReady® loan is an affordable, low-down-payment mortgage product designed for qualifying low- to-moderate-income borrowers, with expanded eligibility for financing homes in low-income communities.

A HomeReady® loan may be a good option for first-time or repeat homebuyers that have low-to-moderate income and limited cash for a down payment.


  • Down payment as low as 3% - can come from multiple sources such as gifts, qualifying grants, and local down payment assistance programs
  • Credit score 620 or higher
  • Affordable home lending options to meet your unique financial needs
  • Private mortgage insurance may be cancellable if conditions are satisfied

FHA Loans

An FHA loan is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). An FHA loan is often a great choice for first-time homebuyers because of the lower down payment and credit score requirements.


  • Requires a minimum down payment of 3.5%
  • Down payment may be gifted, subject to limitations
  • FHA loans are available only for primary residence
  • Property must meet certain minimum standards established by Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
  • Requires payment of an up-front and monthly government mortgage insurance premium
  • Fixed and adjustable rate mortgage options available

VA Loans

A mortgage loan guaranteed by the Department of Veteran’s Affairs with the goal of making homeownership available to those who have served our country.

A VA loan can be a good option for active-duty service members or veterans of the military, reservists and members of the National Guard, and some surviving spouses of veterans.

Important things you need to know about VA loans:


  • No down payment is required
  • Down payment may be gifted, subject to limitations
  • No private mortgage insurance is required
  • Fixed and adjustable rate mortgage options are available

Mortgage Insurance – What is it and how does it work?

Mortgage insurance (if applicable) – Mortgage insurance (MI) protects your lender against financial loss if you can’t repay your loan. If you make less than a 20% down payment, you may be required to have mortgage insurance.

Common home buying questions

Whether you have questions about how to start house hunting or what type of home loan is right for you, or you want to learn more about the home buying process, we’ve got answers. Learn more

Real estate terms you need to know

When preparing to buy your first home, you’ll likely hear words and phrases that are unfamiliar to you. To understand the “jargon,” we’ve provided an overview of the most common real estate terms. Learn more

Ready to own your dreams?

Contact us

Call 1-833-470-7334
TTY 1-800-659-5495

GET PREAPPROVED

Legal information and Disclosures

All loans are subject to credit approval, standard mortgage qualifications and underwriting requirements. Additional fees, conditions and restrictions may apply.

1Automatic payments discount of 0.125% off the standard rate requires applicants to establish automatic mortgage payments from their new or existing Bank of the West personal checking or savings account. For adjustable rate mortgages, the discount is applicable only during the initial fixed-rate period. Other restrictions may apply. All terms and conditions applicable to the checking or savings account apply, including fees and minimum opening deposits. Additional benefits may be available for eligible Bank of the West deposit customers, investment customers of BancWest Investment Services or Bank of the West Global Investment Fiduciary Solutions investment clients (ask us for details).

2Calculators are provided as a convenience. Bank of the West makes no warranties about the accuracy or completeness of the calculations.