So you’re trucking down the aisles at Costco with your enormous shopping cart, working your way down the list…
35 rolls jumbo paper towels (enough to last a year)…check
24 flavors of Gatorade (might as well try them all)…check
96 #2 pencils (this way you’ll never need a sharpener)…check
Free food samples…check, check, check, check, check, check….
6-pack of pickles (cause what’s a sandwich without the pickle)…check
1 micro food processor (it’s tiny and adorable!)…check
1 mortgage (probably needed one of those anyway)…check
WAIT A MINUTE! A MORTGAGE?
That’s right! You can now obtain a mortgage loan at Costco. In April of 2012, Costco began rolling out a new mortgage loan program after extensive testing and development. Costco has partnered with First Choice Loan Services, Inc. to provide this service. First Choice in turn works with many other mortgage lenders to find you the best rates and terms. Although you can pick up a brochure and get information at the store, you will need to go online to apply for an actual mortgage loan.
In addition to the potential savings that Costco’s leverage can provide, there is one big difference between this service and other similar services: your personal information will only be provided to the lender that you ultimately select. Your phone won’t start ringing off the hook the minute you complete the application!
Here’s how it works:
1. Go to www.costcofinance.com
2. Select “Refinance”, “Buy a Home” or “Veteran Loans”.
3. Fill out the simple questionnaire and click on See Results.
4. After a few seconds, applicable lenders and rate quotes will be displayed on your screen.
5. You can click on 30 Yr Fixed, 15 Yr Fixed or 5/1 Arm to see other rates for each lender.
6. Select one or more lenders and click on the “Request Quote” button at the bottom.
7. You will be contacted only by the lenders you have selected.
8. From this point on, you will work directly with the lenders you have selected to complete the loan process. You are free to negotiate rates and fees further with each particular lender.
Below are a few of the lenders participating in the Costco mortgage program:
WestStar Mortgage, Inc.
United Community Mortgage
Bank of Internet USA
Real Estate Mortgage Bank
New York Loan Exchange
First Century Bank
Wyndham Capital Mortgage
Should you use Costco for your mortgage?
Costco’s website claims that their service can match you up with “top national lenders who have committed to providing superior pricing, excellent member service and fast response times.” Costco sets strict policies for the lenders and monitors the lending process to ensure fair pricing and quality service.
Gold Star, Business and Executive Costco members receive additional discounts on lender fees.
Participating lenders also take part in the HARP 2.0 program to refinance underwater loans. So homeowners looking to take advantage of today’s low interest rates may still be able do so, even if their home’s value is less than the required loan amount.
For their part, Costco does receive payment for marketing these mortgage services. However, they do not receive fees from the lending process itself. You won’t see any Costco fees on your loan documents.
At the end of the day, you should compare rates and terms between the lenders that Costco suggests along with some not referred by Costco.
Costco’s program is just one more tool in your tool chest for finding the mortgage with the best rates and terms to meet your particular situation.
By the way, don’t forget to take advantage of Costco’s $1.50 hotdog special on your way out the door! (Why are those hotdogs always so darn good…)
This was a guest contribution from Briana Fabbri of Net Credit. Briana is a recognized “Emerging Leader” by the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing and can be found blogging about personal loans and other finance related topics at the Net Credit blog.
Note: Ms. Fabbri and NetCredit do not provide financial or legal advice. Please consult with a qualified financial advisor or attorney regarding your individual circumstances