Frequently Asked Mortgage Questions

Thinking about applying for a mortgage through North Country Savings Bank but not sure where to start? These common mortgage questions will help guide you through the first stages of the process. Don't see your question answered here? Stop by any of our branches to talk with a Personal Banker or Loan Expert who can help answer questions about your unique financial situation. 

If you're planning to buy your first home, check out our common questions for first-time homebuyers and information about the First-Time Homebuyer Grant.

How can I apply for a mortgage through North Country Savings Bank?

There are several ways to apply for a mortgage through North Country Savings Bank:

  • In a meeting with a Loan Originator at one of our convenient banking locations throughout St. Lawrence County. No appointment is necessary.
  • At one of our branches in the EagleNet Café using our Eagleview video conferencing
  • Apply Online
Is there a fee charged or any other obligation if I complete the online application?
There are no fees or obligations when you fill out our online mortgage application.
How do you make decisions on my mortgage application?
Unlike big banks which run your application through a computer, all of the decisions related to your mortgage application are made in-house by a team of Loan Underwriters. During the decision process our expert Loan Underwriters take your entire financial standing into consideration, not just your credit score. If you do not have an established credit history, we will turn to alternative credit, including rental history from a landlord, utility payments or insurance payments.
What other types of mortgages does North Country Savings Bank offer?

We offer several types of construction loans for contractors and self-builders. These can include loans for modular homes, manufactured homes, single and double wide homes. Contact a Loan Expert if you are interested in one of these loans.

How many options does North Country Savings have available for borrowing against my home's equity?

We have two basic options available, an open-ended line of credit and a closed-end mortgage. Both involve a lien on the property. The basic difference is the manner in which the funds are accessed and repaid.

The home equity line of credit allows the borrower to draw the loan funds as needed, as well as re-borrow from the principal at a later date during the open-end phase of the loan.

The closed end option requires the funds to be drawn by the borrower at the time of closing and monthly payments are established at that time for repayment. This form of home equity loan does not provide for any future use of the repaid funds for the borrower.

How much do I need for a down payment?
Typically a 20% down payment is required, however you can apply with as little as 5% with Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) coverage.
I am selling my current home to purchase this new home. What type of documentation will be required?
We'll ask you to provide a copy of the settlement or closing statement of your current home to verify that mortgage has been paid in full.
Do you offer a rate lock?
Our mortgage rates are good for 90 days from the day of application. If your mortgage closing is delayed past 90 days, the rate may change.
Do you offer No Closing Cost rates?

North Country Savings Bank has a variety of loans including No Closing Cost options. Our Loan Experts can help you determine if you are eligible.

Can I make my monthly payments with an automated debit from my checking account?
Automated monthly payments are available and encouraged. Enrolling in this program means you’ll never miss a payment because the money is withdrawn at the same time each month.
Do your mortgage loans have prepayment penalties?
North Country Savings Bank does not have any prepayment penalties.
What are your current interest rates?

Our interest rates are very competitive and in some cases, home-buyers qualify for a rate discount. Contact a Loan Expert to find out if you qualify.

First-Time Homebuyer FAQ

Can I apply for a loan before I find a property to purchase?
We recommend applying for a mortgage before you start shopping. By figuring out how much home you can afford, you’ll avoid falling in love with a home that’s not in your budget. We will qualify you based on your affordability level and credit history.
What is the difference between pre-approved and pre-qualified?

Pre-qualification is the first step in the mortgage process, when the lender determines if you are eligible to qualify for a mortgage loan, and determines how much money you are able to borrow based on basic financial information including your income, debt, and assets. There are no rate or loan amount guarantees with pre-qualification.

The pre-approval process is when the lender performs a credit review. This gives the lender a closer look at your financial history, and provides you with more accurate interest rates and loan amounts. Once you are pre-approved, you know how much money you can borrow and how much “home” you can afford.

How much home can I afford?

Our mortgage loan calculator can help you determine your monthly mortgage payment including taxes, insurance, and the principle. You can also schedule a meeting with a Loan Expert to review options that will determine how much home you can afford.

In addition to the mortgage payment, what other costs do I need to consider when applying for a mortgage?
In addition to the mortgage payment, you will have monthly expenses of taxes and insurances for the property.
If I have a past bankruptcy or foreclosure will I be unable to obtain a new mortgage?
To receive approval for a new mortgage, we generally require that two to four years have passed since your bankruptcy or foreclosure so that you’ve had time to establish an acceptable credit history.
Will an inquiry about my credit affect my credit score?
Generally your credit score will not be affected by our inquiry. Most lenders see multiple inquiries for the same type of loan and know that you are comparing rates between lenders. However, if you have applied for several different types of loans or credit cards in a short amount of time, your credit score could be negatively impacted.
What credit score do I need to qualify for a mortgage?
Although your credit score is an important factor in qualifying for a mortgage, it is not the only factor considered. Even if you have less than stellar credit or no credit at all, North Country Savings Bank also analyzes your work history and “alternative credit,” including utility payments and rental history.
What do I need to apply for a mortgage?

Applying for a mortgage can be a daunting process, as most lenders explore every aspect of your financial and credit history. Having the proper documents ready can avoid slowing down the approval process so you can start shopping for your new home. Whether you choose to meet with a lender in person or apply online, having the following information on hand will speed up the process:

  • Proof of income (W2s, recent paystubs or federal income tax returns, if you are self-employed)
  • Balances and monthly payments of all your current debts including credit cards, personal loans, auto loans and student loans
  • A list of all your assets including any real estate, automobiles, retirement accounts and deposit accounts
  • The address and an estimated value of the home you plan to purchase (if applicable)
What is the difference between a home inspection and an appraisal?
Both a home inspection and an appraisal protect you against potential issues with your new home. A home inspection will inspect for structural defects, while an appraisal will determine the market value of the property. A home inspection is not usually required, although it is usually recommended.
What is the difference between Assessed Value and Appraised Value?
An Assessment is the value placed on a property by the town or city's assessor's office for the purpose of determining the property’s tax value. An Appraisal, on the other hand, is ordered for the specific purpose of determining the current market value of a specific piece of real estate on a specific date. The appraiser relies on current market data including recent sales on properties that are similar in style, size and location to the property. Assessed value and appraised value will not typically be the same since the appraised value will be impacted by market activity.
Are 15-Year Mortgages Better Than 30-Year Mortgages?

Each borrower’s personal household budget is different, and there are benefits and drawbacks to both 15 and 30-year mortgages: the best option for you depends on your long and short-term financial goals. 15-year mortgages have lower interest rates, cost less over the life of the loan and are great for long-term savings. However, the monthly payments on these mortgages are typically much higher than the 30-year option. Our loan experts can help you determine which mortgage is right for you.

What is the difference between a fixed-rate loan and an adjustable-rate loan?
With a fixed-rate loan, the interest rate is determined when you take out the loan and will not change over time. An adjustable rate can fluctuate during the term of the loan depending on the changes in the market. This type of interest rate has maximums that the rate can change at each adjustment and over the term of the loan.
What is the difference between a mortgage interest rate and an APR?
Interest rate is the cost you will pay each year to borrow the money, expressed as a percentage, and can be fixed or variable. This rate is used to calculate your monthly payment. An annual percentage rate (APR) is a broader measure of the cost of borrowing money. The APR reflects not only the interest rate but also any prepaid fees associated with the loan. APR is usually higher than your interest rate and is also represented as a percentage rate.
What is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?
If the down payment on your home is less than 20%, most lenders require you to obtain private mortgage insurance (PMI). The cost of PMI varies depending on your credit score, down payment and the term of the loan. The payment will be added into your monthly loan payment and in some cases may be tax deductible.
What is Title Insurance?
Title insurance provides homeowners protection from possible title issues related to their property. Over time, a home can go through several ownership changes, leaving costly issues that are missed when the title is examined for defects. Title insurance covers the insured party for any claims and legal fees that could arise after the closing.
What are closing costs?
Closing costs are the fees associated with the end of the transaction and should be considered by anyone looking to buy a new home. The amount you pay at closing can vary depending on your lender. Some examples of closing costs include attorney fees, deduction points, appraisal fees and loan origination fees.
What is escrow and how does it work?
Escrow is when North Country Savings Bank pays bills associated with your property on your behalf. These may include PMI, real estate taxes, homeowners insurance, flood insurance, water and sewer tax, and life and disability insurance. A premium is added to your monthly principal and interest payment to cover these charges.
How can a Loan Expert help me?

Our Loan Experts have more than 10 years of lending experience and are always willing to answer questions and help future homeowners finance their dream home. Each mortgage application we receive is given personalized attention so we understand your unique financial situation to find the right mortgage for you.