Qualified homeowners throughout the South Sound can live a mortgage-free life in as little as a year. Dave Echtle, vice president of lending at O Bee Credit Union, developed this innovative mortgage product in response to a growing demand for home loans with shorter terms.
Called the “mortgage free life,” the home loans are written for periods of one to 10 years at competitive interest rates. Unlike mortgages with extensive closing costs, O Bee offers these mortgages for a $595 flat fee, including appraisal fees, title insurance, and other fees. Loans close in two to three weeks. These features make refinancing affordable as well as attractive to homeowners.
“People are trying to get ready for retirement or get out of debt,” says Echtle.
Based in Tumwater, O Bee has been offering a similar mortgage product since 2011. To date, about 130 homeowners have taken advantage of the program and some are already debt-free.
“Customers are very satisfied with the product,” says Lee Wojnar, vice president of marketing. “We want you to be successful. We don’t want you to have a mortgage.”
On average, those taking advantage of the mortgage program are homeowners in their mid to late 50s who are approaching retirement and whose homes have a loan-to-value ratio of 80 percent or less. Homeowners tend to have at least 50 percent home equity, have paid down their mortgages and want to pay their mortgage loans off entirely before retirement.
“As a credit union, we’re here to serve our members and to help them achieve their financial freedom and goals,” Echtle says. “This is one way to do it.”
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