How to Get a Great Mortgage

Hey Friend, Joe Tafolla here with Seattle’s Mortgage Broker and I’m excited to be able to teach you how to navigate a mortgage so you are in control, can navigate the process without a ton of stress and ultimately able to pick out the best deal that is right for you and your homeownership plans.

Chapter 1: Overview

What to Expect Within the EDU Portal

Here's what to expect within our EDU Portal. An online portal where you can learn about the entire mortgage process when working with a mortgage broker like SMB - from contact to closing and beyond.

When should you get pre-approved for a mortgage?

Here's a quick look at the overall streamlined timeline for either a home purchase or refinance at the highest level. We will break down the entire process in further EDU Portal videos.

What is a Broker? - What makes Mortgage Brokers better than the big banks?

One of the most common questions we get asked is, "What does a broker do?" This video explores what a broker is and how we can help you whether purchasing or refinancing.

Why getting a mortgage pre-approval is important

In today's market getting a mortgage pre-approval is a no-brainer. Some agents won't even show you a home without one, and for good reason. Here's the order of a transaction timeline and how a pre-approval fits in.

Chapter 2: Pre-Approval

Who Does What? - Who is involved when buying a house?

The Inspector, the Appraiser, the Realtor and the Lender... who does what? Each person plays an important but distinct role in the real estate transaction and this video explains who would be your go-to individual for aspects along the process.

Timeline - How long does it take to get Pre-Approved?

Once you've filled out your application and have provided all supporting documentation here's what SMB will be doing to get your loan prepared for underwriting. Underwriting is an absolute must in today's market, as you may need to waive your financing contingency.

Best Practices after you've been Pre-Approved

Even once you are pre-approved, there are things you could do that would significantly change the terms of your loan. These best practices will help you avoid that happening by not rocking the boat in terms of your financial situation.

Pre-Approval Overview- Why our Pre Approvals are better

Once the application has been filled out and you have provided any needed supporting documents, the timeline begins for us. Here's our commitment of timeframes when it comes to moving your application through the process.

Types of Documents- Acceptable type of bank documents

What types of documents can be accepted during the loan process? Some of underwriting's requirements for documents can seem confusing, so this video breaks down a few key things to keep in mind when formatting documents for submission.

Document Format- How to format a document the lender will accept

When asked for a PDF to satisfy certain conditions, more is needed than a simple screenshot converted to the requested file type. See how we need your documents formatted in this video.

Uploading Documents to Floify- How to upload your documents

How do we keep track of needed documentation to make sure nothing gets missed and holds up the loan process? We use software called Floify - here's a quick breakdown as to how it works.

Types of Loans- Down Payments for different types of loans

As of 2020, what are the loan limits for conforming, conforming high balance and jumbo loans? And which of these loans does your mortgage fall under? This episode goes into what you need to know.

Title & Escrow- What is the difference between Title and Escrow?

What's the difference between title and escrow, are they done by the same company, and why are both essential to the real estate transaction?

Gift Funds

Having friends or family gift you funds during the course of your home purchase transaction? Here are the do's and don'ts that will help you avoid any headaches with underwriting or uncomfortable requests from the giftor.

What is Earnest Money?

What is earnest money and what does it go towards? This video talks about the need for earnest money and where it gets distributed should the deal go through or collapse.

Appraisal vs. Inspection

What's the difference between an appraisal and an inspection and are both required for the mortgage loan process?

Home Inspections: Don't Freak Out!

Many buyers see a long inspection report of home 'issues' and begin to freak out! This video we discuss what things you should expect to see on an inspection report that shouldn't raise any alarm bells, and what should!

What is an Appraisal Management Company (AMC)?

What are Appraisal Management Companies, what do they do, and why do you have to have them as part of the mortgage loan process? This video explains AMC's in depth.

What is the difference between APR and non-APR fees?

What's the difference between APR and Non-APR fees and how do you know whether you are getting a good deal? Find out in this episode from SMB.

APR Costs: Refinance- Typical APR fees on a typical refinance

What are the APR costs involved when it comes to a refinance? And how does that cost scale with a refinance that costs more or less?

APR Costs: Purchase- Typical APR fees on a typical purchase

What are the APR costs involved when it comes to a purchase? While the cost can scale with the home price and other variable factors, Joe outlines a baseline estimate to use when making your calculations.

Conditions Best Practices

Let's put our best foot forward to the Underwriter and get some EZ Conditions checked off the list before we're even asked. That way we get the Underwriter to really like your loan application and expedite the process!

Golden Triangle- Managing Expectations, the rule of the Golden Triangle

Everyone wants the best location, with all the features at the lowest price. But how do you learn to compromise aspects of the perfect home that may not be realistic. Here's a practical look at home shopping and knowing what boxes you can reasonably tick. We call it the Golden Triangle.

Critical Steps - Financing Clarity

These are the critical steps during the pre-approval process that must be taken to ensure you the best possibility of securing the house of your dreams. Don't forget to get us involved as early on so that we can present you as a strong buyer to the lender as soon as possible.


Some example contingencies that might be placed on a mortgage loan are: an Inspection contingency, an Appraisal contingency or a Financing contingency. What are each of these contingencies for and how do they protect you as the buyer, or in some cases hold you back?

Offer Strategies: Greased Lightning!

How can you make your house offer stand out from the crowd? There are a number of techniques we've learned over the years that increases the chances of your home offer being accepted.

Offer Strategies: Thor's Hammer

One of the strongest offer strategies you can employ is what we like to call Thor's Hammer - which can often craft a more attractive offer to the seller than cash!

Offer Strategies: Cover Letter

With so many buyers often bidding on the same home a cover letter is a great way to make your offer stand out and create an emotional connection with the seller and their home.

Tip 1: Fast Closings

What is a sign that it may be a good idea to include a fast closing on a home offer? This is the first of a series of tips we'll look at for offer strategies.

Tip 2: Flexible Closing Date- Why a flexible close date can help you win

Putting the standard 30 days closing on your offer is something that almost every buyer will do, which means that you shouldn't! In a competitive market you want to grab every advantage and opportunity you can, and being flexible with your closing date is one of those!

Tip 3: Rentback- Why a Rent-Back can help you stand out from the competition

Another way to make your offer stand out is to include a rent-back option. This allows the seller to live in the home for a designation period of time to give enough time for them to find their new home; this is just another way to humanize your offer and make you stand from the crowd.

Tip 4: Earnest Money- How to use Earnest Money as a negotiation tool

Earnest money is better thought of as a deposit for the home. The amount you choose should strike the balance between standing out from other offers, yet minimizing your exposure in case your circumstances change.

Tip 5: Financing Contingency- Why a financing contingency looks bad to the seller

Financing contingency can seem like a good insurance but including one on your offer tells the seller one of 2 things; either a) you aren't that serious about purchasing their home or b) your financing might fail. Thankfully, there is a way to not have to include a financing contingency yet still be confident in your ability to close the deal: a pre-approval.

Tip 6: Inspection Contingency- Here's how to get an inspection without detracting from your offer

Including an inspection contingency on your offer weakens your position. If possible, it's better to have the home inspected before making an offer. That way you can waive the inspection contingency and still have the insurance of knowing that any potential issues with the home have been thoroughly researched.

Tip 7: Cover Letter- How to make your Cover Letter resonate with the seller

Here's a useful tip to keep in mind when writing that letter to help you build rapport and connection with the seller.

Chapter 3: Under Contract

Who Does What?- Who to contact when your loan is in process

Congratulations on having your offer accepted! Now we are under contract, your best point of contact for questions or information becomes our processing specialist, Terri.

Timeline- Under contract, Next Steps

Let's take a look at the timeline of events now that you are under contract. We are already hard at work on your loan and you should expect us to reach out to you soon to schedule a time to meet with Joe.

Underwriting- What is Underwriting and what to expect from them

What is underwriting? How does it effect you? And why do you need to know about it? Here's the basics.

Interest Rate Lock

What are the correct ways to approach locking the interest rate of your loan? Locking the rate early can either be a good idea or a bad one, depending on the rate environment. Here's everything you need to know when deciding when to lock the interest rate for your home loan.

Interest Rate Extensions- How to avoid extra fees from rate lock extensions

Rate lock extensions are something to be avoided. They can be thought of as a penalty for missing a closing date. There is a balance we want to strike with choosing a period long enough to close, but not too long to pay unnecessarily for a longer lock length than needed.

TRID- Government Required Delays

TRID can be thought of as a cooldown time that kicks in at various points of the loan process. It is something to be aware of and account for when it comes to expectations of loan closing time.

Gift Funds- The easiest way to receive Gift Funds

How do you navigate receiving funds from friends and family while your loan is under contract? There are a few simple practices that will make the workload far easier for everyone involved.

Esigning- We are a paperless company! Esign all the way

Great news! We are a completely paperless company, so you can feel good about doing business with us. Because of this, there are a couple of things we would ask that you keep top-of-mind to help the process go as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

Mortgage Conditions: Assets

What are assets and what are not? It's important to know what you can count towards this figure and the details of why something like a gift may not qualify.

Mortgage Conditions: Income

How do you calculate your income to satisfy the loan condition? This can be a very simple step if you are simply a salaried employee, but if you are someone who earns regular overtime, commissions, bonuses etc - we need to know how to calculate these additional sources of income.

Mortgage Conditions: Insurance

Getting insurance on your new home is just something you have to cross off your to-do list so that you can focus on the more exciting aspects of owning your new home. Here's how things are a little different, depending on whether you decide to work with a big box insurance company, or a local representative.

Mortgage Conditions: Appraisal- What is an Appraisal?

Why is an appraisal so important to the real estate transaction, and what needs to happen if the appraised value of the home you are purchasing comes in as less than the agreed purchase price?

Chapter 4: Closing

Who Does What and Timeline- Your loan is ready to sign, here's what to expect

Once you're through underwriting, what happens? How do you get the loan from approved at underwriting to keys in hand? Let's take a look.

Moving Money- Moving your money into closing

If you are 100% out of underwriting and have received the Clear to Close notice, you are safe to move money around your accounts. Just ensure you verbally verify any wiring instructions.

Chapter 5: Post-Closing

First Mortgage Payment- How to make your first payment

Now that you've closed on your loan, how do you make your first payment? Most lenders are set up to receive payments electronically, but you have the option of mailing a check too.

Property Tax Coupon- What your property tax coupon means

Don't have a heart attack when you receive the Property Tax Coupon some time in November! Even if you have your escrows included in your monthly mortgage payment you'll receive this coupon stating what your property taxes are, but check the bottom on the coupon and you will see that it is not a tax bill.

Insurance Not Escrowing- Why your insurance may not be escrowing automatically

If you find your insurance is not escrowing along with your other monthly payments, chances are you are in a condo with a walls-in policy. Feel free to get in touch if you need help re-setting up your own insurance.