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Bremer Bank Mortgage

Homebuyer News and Tips

Rate Shopping:
Why the Best Rate May Not Be the Best Value
April 24, 2015 - You can look and look at mortgage rates from multiple companies, in hopes of finding the lowest rate out there. But is the lowest rate equivalent to the best deal? Take it from your local mortgage professionals – the answer is oftentimes no. There are many factors beyond rate that go into a mortgage loan package. Be sure you know all the details so you can compare apples to apples. 

Keep the following tips in mind when comparing mortgage rates:

  • What is the lower rate going to cost you in closing costs? Be sure to gather and compare all the details so you're doing an even comparison. For example, if you remain in the property for only a few years and paid expensive closing costs to get a lower rate, does that make good financial sense? 
  • When you get a rate quote, inquire about the length of the lock. Did Bank A quote you a rate lock for 60 days, and then Bank B quoted you a lower rate but the lock is only good for 25 days? Shorter lock periods can mean expensive lock extension fees if the deal doesn't get done during the lock period.
  • Be wary of banks that offer you a lower quote only after you tell them about a lower rate from a competing bank. What is the other bank giving up to get your business? Will you get the level of service and expertise you require? A mortgage loan is a long-term commitment that requires long-term service.
  • Be leery of over-shopping. Although credit bureaus are aiming to hit your credit with just one inquiry within a 45-day period, if Bank A pulls credit as John A. Doe and Bank B pulls credit as Jonathan A. Doe, you credit has just been hit with another inquiry due to un-identical name input. This may affect your credit score.
  • Rates can change daily. A rate that looks the best one day may not be the best rate the very next day. If you find a rate that fits your needs, it's best to take the rate before it goes up.
  • Special, local financing programs offered by Bremer may make more financial sense than a mortgage loan with the lowest rate:
    • First-time Homebuyer Programs: Did you know a first-time homebuyer is identified as someone who has not owned a home in the last 3 years, regardless of prior home ownership?
    • Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin all have state-specific programs to help make home ownership more attainable. Communities, counties, nonprofit agencies and other groups also may offer additional home buying programs. Some of these options include rural development loans, programs with low downpayment options, closing cost assistance, and deferred loans.

Have a conversation with a Bremer mortgage loan officer to learn more about how to find the best mortgage program for you.

More Articles
December 2014
September 2014
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More Information


Still Writing Rent Checks?
With home prices and mortgage rates low but on the move, the time is now for renters to consider purchasing a home.

December 4, 2014 - There certainly are financial benefits to homeownership, but it also can be hard to put a price on the pride and security one can feel from owning a home. This winter is a prime time to purchase a home because mortgage rates and home prices are still low, but they are trending upward. The longer you wait, the higher the chance you will pay more for your home and loan.
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to purchase your first home. Below we explore some of the advantages of homeownership to help guide you in your decision.

Financial Advantages of Homeownership

  • Lower monthly payment. Yes, your monthly mortgage payment could actually be lower than your rent payment. This is especially true right now because mortgage rates and home prices are low, while rent is increasing in many areas. There are rent vs. buy calculators online to give you an idea of how much home you can get for the amount of your rent payment, but because Bremer Bank has special financing programs – including ones with with downpayment assistance - and local decision-making, we recommend talking to one of our mortgage loan officers for an accurate comparison.
    Note: You will need to take into consideration items you will have to pay for with a home that you may not with your apartment or condo, such as insurance, utilities, yard equipment, maintenance, appliances and property taxes.

  • Build equity and credit. As you make mortgage payments, you are building equity (or savings) in your home. If the value of your home increases, so will your equity, and this can increase your wealth over time – called return on investment. When you rent, there is no return on investment with your monthly payments. In addition, when you make your mortgage payments on time every month, you are improving your credit score.

  • Tax benefits.Homeowners can deduct some or all of the mortgage interest and property taxes every year on their federal tax forms. There may even be some state tax deductions, too. In the early years of homeownership when your monthly payments are mostly interest, this can be a huge benefit. Consult a tax advisor for your individual situation.

Other Advantages of Homeownership

  • Feeling of stability. Having a home to call your own can bring a feeling of stability – a permanent place to live and grow – which is especially desirable when starting or raising a family.
    Note: Stability in your job and life is also important when considering homeownership. Once you're in a home, you will have less flexibility to move to another town or state for a job. If you have school-age children, it can be difficult for them to change schools.

  • Advertise your sense of style (or lack thereof).When you own a home, you can make changes and renovations to walls, floors, appliances, the yard.....whatever you like to make it home sweet home. Yes, that includes turning the basement into a man cave. Sorry, ladies…

  • Becoming part of a community. Homeowners typically have more opportunities to get to know their neighbors, and feel a sense of belonging and desire to become more involved in the community to help ensure its well-being.

Want to Learn More?

If you’d like additional information about the advantages of homeownership or the home buying process, visit the links below. Or stop by your local Bremer Bank to speak with a loan officer about your mortgage financing options and get a free loan preapproval so you know how much home you can afford.



Cabin Buying:
With a Little Homework, You Could Be Relaxing at the Lake
September 15, 2014 - Tired of hearing your friends and neighbors talk about how much fun they've had at their cabin over the summer? Maybe it's your turn! Buying a lakeshore or rural property can be a great investment in addition to providing you and your family with fun and relaxation.

But before you start looking at properties, it's important to spend some time thinking about what type of property and cabin would be best for you and your family. Our list below will help you get started. Then talk to a Bremer Bank mortgage loan officer about loan options that will fit your needs:

What Should I Consider?

  • Location of property. Think about how much time you will have to spend at your cabin. Once a month? Every weekend? All year round or just in the summer? This will help determine how far away from home to start looking. If your cabin is more than two hours away, will you be able to go as often as you'd like?

  • Property amenities. What would you like to do at your cabin and property? Do you want to be on the water or in the woods? Do you want a garden? Also consider if it's important to have hiking, biking, skiing and/or snowmobiling near the cabin.

  • Age and maintenance. Do you want to purchase a cabin that needs improvements, or do you want one that's ready to go? This will factor in to the cost of the home. In addition, consider the maintenance of the cabin - will you be in charge of it year-round or hire someone to take care of the cabin for you? Take a look at the roads in the area - are they maintained year-round or seasonally?

  • Tax breaks. Owning a cabin can provide tax benefits. Typically, mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible.

  • Surrounding area. Become familiar with the market in the area you're searching, as well as potential neighbors and the nearest town. What's the value of similar cabin properties in this area? If you need to get groceries, how close is the nearest store?
  • Additional property considerations. Future value of your real estate purchase will partially depend on the lake and lakeshore quality. Here are some other important considerations when looking at lake property or an existing cabin on the lake:
    • Dock size and location
    • Flood zone – flood insurance is required for properties in flood zones
    • Lake levels throughout the seasons
    • Utilities – electricity, water, gas, sewage system (private or community)
    • Easements on the property/lake

  • Lake quality and usage. Is it a good lake for fishing? Do people use it for swimming and recreational boating?

Your real estate agent and mortgage loan professional will help you through the cabin buying process. Getting preapproved for a mortgage loan is highly recommended before you begin your search. This will give you an edge over other potential buyers as it shows you are financially prepared to put in an offer. See article below.

Best of luck in your cabin hunting!


Are You an Attractive Home Buyer?
Learn How to Stand Out from the Pack

July 31, 2014 - If you’ve been out looking for homes, you probably have realized it’s a seller’s market right now … there aren’t enough homes for all the potential buyers. Buyers are scrambling to preview homes and put in offers, sometimes above the asking price, in a very short time frame (picture "The Amazing Race").

So now is the time to ask yourself this question: Am I an attractive buyer? If you were up against 10 other buyers for a home, would you be able to stand out? To help you answer "yes" to these questions, here are some important steps to follow:
  • Make sure your credit score is accurate. Also, avoid taking on any large debt for the few months before you purchase a home. It could have a negative impact on your credit score.

  • Get pre-approved. Pre-approval is the process of completing a loan application and allowing your mortgage loan officer to review and verify the information you provided, along with assuring your credit scores are in an acceptable range for your mortgage product. Why is this so important? Sellers want the assurance you are "credit worthy" to purchase their property. Most real estate agents today will require their buyers to go through the pre-approval process before they begin showing homes to you. They, too, want buyers to be in a strong position to make an offer on the home of their dreams.

  • Know exactly what you want and need. What are you looking for in a neighborhood? What amenities in a house do you need and want? What is your maximum purchase price? Also, how much of a downpayment will you provide – the higher the downpayment, the more attractive you are as a buyer.
    And what you’re willing to concede, if necessary. If you end up head-to-head with another buyer, there may be things beyond price that are on the bargaining table. Did you include items in your offer such as "seller must paint walls" or "seller must upgrade kitchen appliances?" Concessions may be necessary if you really want the home.

  • Do your research. What are homes selling for in the neighborhoods you want to browse? Attend open houses to get a feel for what amenities are common in homes within your price range. How much does it cost to carpet a room, paint a room, purchase a new refrigerator – in case you will need to make some improvements on the home or want to ask the seller to make them.

  • Get personal, if necessary. Consider the following scenario – You have an accepted offer and are planning to move when the seller gets cold feet and says he isn’t sure he wants to sell anymore. He has raised his children in this home and is having a hard time letting go. You write a personal letter to the seller explaining how you would take good care of the home and raise your own kids in it. It works and the seller follows through with the deal.

Your real estate agent and mortgage loan professional will help you through the home buying process. With some prep work (and sometimes a little luck), you can purchase the home of your dreams!