Breaking down barriers to home ownership
A Question-and-Answer Session with Lynn Harvey, Mortgage Loan Officer at Cambridge Savings Bank
Equal Housing Lender
NMLS ID #543370
Q: Tell me about yourself. How long have you been in the mortgage business with Cambridge Savings Bank (CSB)?
I have worked with the residential lending team at CSB for about 23 years and I am proud to say that the team lives up to our promise of treating each customer like our only customer. Getting a mortgage is one of the biggest purchases people make and that can be daunting. We go the extra mile to make our customers feel supported through each step of the process. That culture of being supportive extends to how we treat each other as coworkers at the bank—we all depend on each other to support our customers through their mortgage journey.
Q: What do you think is the biggest barrier for people looking to buy their first home?
Not surprisingly, many people are unfamiliar with the mortgage process and the products that are available to them. Most banks or mortgage companies just advertise the typical products, but there are many other options for customers that have specific needs or may require additional ways to qualify. Potential buyers sometimes put off homeownership because they feel intimidated by the process or incorrectly assume they are not qualified to buy a home because of their financial situation. By just having a conversation with a mortgage loan officer, they can uncover borrowing options that many did not know were available to them.
Q: How do you help prospective borrowers overcome that barrier?
We try to empower potential buyers with educational resources and access to talk with a mortgage loan officer at a time that works for them. Our job includes sitting down with our clients and walking them through the process step-by-step. We want to make sure our clients feel comfortable and know what should happen and when. With that in mind, I have three pieces of advice for anyone who is thinking about buying a home:
First, check out Your Mortgage Journey—our series of financial education videos describing each step in the mortgage process. The full video series provides a 15-minute overview of the mortgage process at CSB and includes many helpful tips.
Second, become familiar with the specific product offerings for your financial situation. Sitting down with a mortgage loan officer can help determine the options that best fit your situation. We offer traditional fixed and variable rate mortgages; products with low down payments, flexible sources of down payments, and no borrower-paid mortgage insurance; and a variety of other flexible loan programs, including first-time home buyer programs. Visit cambridgesavings.com/affordable-options to learn more and give us a call to discuss whether you may qualify for these programs. We’re always happy to help!
Finally, remember that we’re always happy to talk if you have questions. You can call our Contact Center at (888) 418-5626 or schedule a time for a mortgage loan officer to call you at cambridgesavings.com/rate.
Q: You mentioned low down payment options, but I’ve always heard that I should put 20% down. Can I still buy even if I don’t have 20% saved up?
Yes. In fact, a study by the National Association of Realtors found that 45% of home buyers financed 90% or more of their home purchase with their mortgage.¹ Putting less than 20% down typically means you’ll add private mortgage insurance, or PMI, but there are some programs that allow you to put down less than 20% and not pay mortgage insurance. You can talk to a mortgage loan officer to determine if you may qualify for these programs.
Q: If I’m ready to buy a home, what’s the first step I should take?
I recommend reaching out to one of our mortgage loan officers early in the home buying process. We can talk you through what to expect from the process and explain how to apply for a prequalification letter, which you will likely need when you’re ready to put down an offer on a property.
If you’ve never owned a home before, I recommend that you register for a first-time home buyer seminar. Completing an approved class not only equips with you with helpful information, but is also a requirement to qualify for some first-time home- buyer programs that have benefits like low down payments, reduced or no closing costs, and low interest rates.
Q: Thanks for your time today. Before we conclude, can you tell me more about the videos in Your Mortgage Journey?
Your Mortgage Journey is a six-chapter series of mortgage financial education videos covering the mortgage loan process from credit approval through closing. You can watch the entire six-chapter video in about 15 minutes, or view each chapter individually if you have questions about a specific piece of the process. The series covers:
• How the Mortgage Application Process Works
• Mortgage Loan Processing
• Mortgage Loan Approval
• Mortgage Loan Commitment
• Mortgage Loan Closing
• Things to be Aware of Before and During the Mortgage Process
¹ https://www.nar.realtor research-and-statistics/research-reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends