Service gives buyers “confidence that any qualified offer they make on a house will go through in the most efficient manner possible.”

Churchill Mortgage, a private mortgage company based in Brentwood, Tennessee, is aiming to give its customers a competitive edge in a number of low inventory markets across the country with the launch of a certified homebuyer program allowing buyers to get pre-underwritten for a loan.

The mortgage firm, which provides conventional FHA, VA and USDA mortgages nationwide, said this initiative takes the buyer another step on from pre-approval and will save up to 10 days in the purchase process.

“This initial step will allow those borrowers to effectively get ahead of other buyers and have the confidence that any qualified offer they make on a house will go through in the most efficient manner possible,” the company noted. Churchill Mortgage, which operates in 44 states across the country, is describing it as “the next best thing to a cash offer.”

In a press release, Mike Hardwick, president of Churchill Mortgage said:

“The first step to debt-free homeownership is finding the property you want and getting it under contract, but in many markets, there is a high level of competition between borrowers who may be interested in the same property. Churchill’s Certified Homebuyer Program was designed to help our borrowers get a head start on securing funding so they are positioned to present offers that are already pre-approved and pre-underwritten — increasing their odds of having their offer selected.”

When you are pre-approved, it is mainly the loan officer who has looked at the loan, explained Kevin Watson, Middle Tennessee district manager talking to Inman. “The difference between the loan officer and the underwriter is the underwriter has the final say in a loan being approved,” he added.

While some mortgage companies might get their clients beyond the pre-approval stage, they won’t actually send a loan to the underwriter until they have the address of the property they want to buy, whereas Churchill does not need a property address to get underwriter approval for this program, he said. As long as the property meets the guidelines of a conventional loan, “you’re good”, said Watson.

The Churchill loan officer will also call the listing agent to explain what the certified homebuyer program means so that they understand the advantage properly, added Watson.

“If one person is pre-approved and one is pre-certified, with the pre-certified buyer, the seller can close sooner and more securely,” he said.

Watson said it would help buyers in a range of markets, but he saw the offering being especially useful for first-time homebuyers competing in a “larger market of people.”

The initiative is likely to keep Churchill underwriters busy as they go into the spring selling season in the next couple of months. Watson said the company, whose underwriters were spread out over the country and in Tennessessee, might have to contract out to keep up with demand.

“I believe there is a cost, but we feel good, investing in helping local customers and local investors win — giving them any advantage to help them win in the marketplace,” said Watson.

The company already has a few buyers out house hunting with their certificates, said the district manager.

Email Gill South.

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