If you’re buying a home for the first time, or it’s been several years since your last home purchase, you may be wondering: “Where do I start?”

Our free, detailed mortgage resources will help you feel more prepared for the home-buying journey. As always, your Merchants Bank Mortgage Lender can answer any additional questions you might have. Click on a section below for more information: 

The Home Loan Process: What to Expect Step-By-Step

As you prepare to purchase a home or refinance your current home loan, it’s important to know what to expect along the way. We’ve outlined the journey of your home loan from start to finish. Click on a specific item to learn more.
Speak with your Merchants Bank mortgage lender about your financial needs, goals and situation to determine next steps and how much you may qualify to borrow.

At your consultation, your lender will interview you for your pre-approval application. You will be asked to provide:
  • Information on your income, assets, liabilities, and real estate owned.
  • Written consent(s) to pull your credit report(s).
Your mortgage lender will review your numbers to help you understand your financing options.

To schedule your consultation, contact a local Merchants Bank mortgage lender.
Real estate professionals and the home sellers they represent often require confirmation of your credit-worthiness and your ability to purchase for a given price (at contract).

Now is the time to apply for mortgage pre-approval, either online or by contacting a mortgage lender. Pre-approval is critical and more important than pre-qualification because it utilizes credit and preliminary underwriting approval. Once you have applied for pre-approval, you will need to provide requested documentation (see next step).

A pre-approval letter1 will elevate your home buying status and strengthen your offer. Once you have it, you’re ready to shop for a home with confidence.
Your mortgage lender will advise you of the specific documents required for us to underwrite and approve your mortgage. It’s important to submit the required documentation as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth process and on-time closing.  All information must be accurate and complete at least ten business days prior to closing.
Work with a real estate agent for valuable direction and market expertise. Your pre-approval letter will help your agent negotiate with the seller on your behalf — it shows everyone that this is a “real deal.”
Regardless of who writes up your purchase contract (a real estate attorney, title company, etc.), they should be fully aware of important negotiating points or contingencies to include in the contract, such as allowing you to renegotiate the contract if a major defect is discovered at inspection.

You may be required to advance a “good faith deposit” or “earnest money” when you sign the contract. This payment will be considered part of your down payment if you are making one.

When determining the closing date on your offer, please consult your mortgage lender.
We encourage you to hire a home inspector to evaluate the condition of the property. Sales contracts are usually written “as is,” so it’s important to know what you are buying.
When you finalize your mortgage loan application, carefully review the terms and conditions of your loan, and be sure to ask your mortgage lender about anything you do not fully understand.

Make sure to follow our do’s and don’ts to ensure a smooth process from now until the time you close your loan.
Your mortgage lender will continue to work with you through loan closing.

You will be given a package of disclosures including a Mortgage Loan Transaction Loan Estimate and other information about your financing within three business days of your application. It’s important for you to review these materials and confirm that the terms shown match your expectations. After you have reviewed initial disclosures, certain fees will be due, which vary by area. We’re here to answer any questions you may have.
Your mortgage lender will order an appraisal of the property and follow up with your attorney or a title agency representative to ensure that a title commitment is ordered. If you are refinancing, you or someone else may have to be available to give the appraiser access to the home.

You will receive a copy of your completed appraisal.
Your mortgage lender and his/her home loan processor are here to answer questions and will be responsible for:
  • Providing you with the status of your mortgage application
  • Ensuring you have all the necessary contact information
  • Requesting any outstanding documentation or other items to facilitate your approval
  • Confirming and managing your closing date
  • If applicable, provide you with a Conditional Approval Letter.
Your purchase agreement may require a Conditional Approval Letter. Receiving a Conditional Approval Letter means your mortgage is approved, subject to the conditions in the letter, and that you are almost ready to close.
If your initial Mortgage Loan Transaction Loan Estimate has changes, you will receive an updated Mortgage Loan Transaction Loan Estimate before closing. After receiving the disclosure there is a three-business day waiting period before your loan can close.

The disclosure will have your Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and Total Interest Percentage (TIP). If you have questions about this disclosure, contact your mortgage lender immediately. Any further changes to the APR or TIP may require you to be sent another disclosure and incur another three-business day waiting period, which may impact your closing date.
All involved parties need to arrange a date, time and location for closing. Your lender must provide you with certain disclosures before your loan can close, which may impact your closing date.
You will be notified of the exact amount of money you will be required to bring to closing. Funds may not be required if you are refinancing.
At closing, mortgage and closing documents will be reviewed and explained to you.

Most customers establish an escrow account at closing with funds that will cover future real estate taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and if applicable, your private mortgage insurance. If applicable, your lender will make these payments for you from this account when they come due.

Prior to closing, inform your mortgage lender if you would prefer to make tax and insurance payments on your own. But understand that many mortgages require an escrow account, and a fee may be charged if the escrow account is waived.
At closing, you will receive instructions on the amount and timing of your first payment. You’ll also receive a document explaining your choices of automatic payment options to help with budgeting and/or paying down principal faster.

Choose your preference for automatic payments at closing or any time after. You may also make payments online or by check.

Congratulations! Now that you’ve closed on your mortgage, we’re happy to help you make your house a home and continue to meet your home financing needs as your mortgage moves into the servicing process.
Feel free to contact your mortgage lender or loan servicing team at (800) 765-2195 if you:
  • Have questions, concerns, an issue, or if you can’t make a mortgage payment(s)
  • Want to refinance to change your rate or term
  • Want to borrow cash from your home’s equity
  • Are moving or buying a vacation home or investment property — your mortgage loan officer may be able to help you finance a home
  • Have a friend or family member who needs home financing — your mortgage loan officer may also be able to help them finance a home
  • Have a question about an escrow payment
  • Need to order a loan payment coupon book
If you’d like to learn more about how Merchants Bank Loan Servicing helps our customers after loan closing, read our Loan Servicing FAQs.

Do's and Don'ts During the Mortgage Process

After you've applied for a mortgage, here are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts to guide you between the time of application and loan closing to keep the process rolling smoothly.


  1. Notify your mortgage lender:
    - If you have corrections or questions when reviewing your application or disclosures.
    - Of changes in income, job, pay or work hours since you applied. This could impact loan approval.
    - Of maintenance issues, issues identified in a home inspection or incomplete construction that may be present in the house you are financing.
    - Of any unique home features (additional living quarters, large acreage, agricultural use, outbuildings, unique floor plans, etc.).
    - If you have plans to initiate a dispute on your credit.
  2. Continue to make all scheduled monthly payments on time, even those on accounts that may be paid off when this loan closes.
  3. Select your homeowners’ insurance and provide the insurance binder and paid receipt to your mortgage lender as soon as possible.
  4. Obtain a copy of your earnest money check if you are purchasing a home. We need a copy of the front and back once it has cleared your account.
  5. Be prepared to provide additional documentation as a follow up to documents you submit to us.


  1. Apply for, accept or switch to any new credit cards or loans. If you are considering additional credit, check with your mortgage lender first.
  2. Close credit cards since this can affect your credit score.
  3. Begin home improvement or work projects to the home/property being financed prior to closing and recording of the mortgage. This includes excavation projects and demolition of structures on the site.
  4. List the property, that is the subject of this loan, for sale. This can affect loan approval.
  5. Co-sign for anyone else on a loan.
  6. Move money between accounts or banks without consulting your lender first. This often makes the paper trail of funds harder to verify.
  7. Pay off items without checking with your lender first.

Things Within Your Control:

Provide complete legible copies as quickly as possible. Typical items include:
  • Paystubs (you need to have 30 days worth from the job you are using for income with year-to-date and company name).
  • W-2s and/or 1099’s for most recent two years.
  • Signed tax returns and all forms including attachments.
  • Bank/investment statements for your assets. Full statements including all pages (not just e-banking transaction printouts).
  • Purchase agreement, if purchase.
  • Signed gift letter, if you are receiving down payment funds as a gift. Any gift must have no expectation of repayment of these funds. We periodically verify this, so to represent otherwise would be fraudulent.
  • Cash nor unsecured borrowed funds will not be considered as sources for downpayment. For example, you may not take a credit card cash advance or use cash you saved at home.
Expect that more items may be requested based on whether what you provided raises more questions.

Things Within the Bank’s Control:

We commit to:
  • Timely ordering of your appraisal, once we have the purchase agreement/plans and specifications, your completed application and “Intent to Proceed” signed or verbal.
  • Provide timely disclosures of loan costs.
  • Ask you for the documentation required for your loan at the time your application is input.
  • Notify you of approval or non-approval and schedule your loan closing as soon as we have notification from our underwriting team.

Things Outside Both Our Control:

  • Appraiser selection and title insurance are ordered from independent companies. We do not control their turn around time.
  • Comparable sales are a required part of the appraisal. The sale of properties similar to your subject property in the most recent 12 months is the function of the local market.

Have more questions? Contact your Merchants Bank mortgage lender.

All mortgage loans are subject to credit approval.

1. A pre-approval is based on our preliminary review of credit information only and is not a commitment to lend. We will be able to offer a loan commitment upon verification of application information, satisfying all underwriting requirements and conditions, and providing an acceptable property, appraisal and title report. Not available on nonconforming products.