Hunter Galloway is a Mortgage Broker
A mortgage broker is a consultant who acts on your behalf to find you the best home loan for your individual situation from a panel of banks and other lenders who they are associated with.
Once we find you the right home loan, we help you to manage the process of applying for a home loan, from initially signing the paperwork all the way until your loan is approved and your property is settled.
However, we're a little different to most mortgage brokers. Unlike other mortgage brokers who typically only deal with customers who are ready to buy right now, Hunter Galloway is here to help you no matter where you're starting from.
Whether you've got a contract in hand or you're 12 to 24 months away from buying, we're here to guide you through all steps of your home buying journey.
How We Find You the Right Solution
We have a consistent, structured process that we use with all of our customers that delivers results. Here's how it works:
Your Free Assessment
The first step in our process is a free, no-obligation assessment of your financial situation. During this process, we will ask you some basic questions about who you are and what you're looking to achieve using a quick form. After you complete your form one of our expert brokers will review your situation to figure out how we can help you achieve your goals.
Your Home Buying Plan
After reviewing your free assessment, your broker will create and send you a customised Home Buying Plan. Your Home Buying Plan contains some quick calculations about your estimated repayments, borrowing capacity, and deposit requirements. This will give you a quick overview of your financial situation.
Your Home Buying Plan also contains some guides and resources which will help you on your home buying journey.
Once you've had a chance to review your Home Buying Plan, the next step is an Information Session with your broker. During this session, we will go over your home loan requirements and financial situation in a lot more detail. We will discuss your purchase timelines and the next steps in the process.
We will identify any issues that could affect your ability to get a home loan and help you to come up with strategies to mitigate those issues.
Your Next Steps
After your Information Session, there are three likely scenarios:
- 1. Getting You Ready to Buy
- If we find any major issues that will affect your eligibility for a home loan that can't be fixed in the short term - or you're just not quite ready to buy - we will work with you over the coming months to give you the training and support you need to get to the point where you're ready.
- 2. Pre-approval or Eligibility Letter
- If there are no issues with your loan eligibility and you are planning on buying your home within the next three months, we will get our team to prepare a pre-approval or an eligibility letter (explained below) so you can make an offer or head to the auction with clarity and confidence.
- 3. Applying for Your Loan
- If you're red hot and rearing to go, or you've already put pen to paper on a contract of sale, we will proceed directly to lodging and preparing your home loan application.
We understand that everyone's situation is unique and your situation might not fit neatly into one of these scenarios. Rest assured that if this is the case, we will create a unique plan for you based on your goals and what you need.
Getting You Ready to Buy
As we mentioned earlier, the team at Hunter Galloway is here with you for the long haul. We believe that everyone deserves a chance at achieving their property goals. So if you aren't in a position to buy right now, we aren't going to turf you back onto the streets to fend for yourself.
Instead, we will provide you with customised training, tools, and support to get you in a position where you are ready to buy.
Over the years, we have published dozens of comprehensive blog posts, posted hundreds of YouTube videos, hosted dozens of webinars, and even published a book. The sheer volume of information can be overwhelming, but don't worry - we'll guide you to the resources that will help you reach that next step on your journey.
Pre-Approvals and Eligibility Letters
Here at Hunter Galloway, we do things a little differently compared to most brokers. Most brokers will try to get you to apply for a pre-approval if there's even a slight chance you might think of buying a home sometime in the next few months.
There's a couple of reasons they do that:
- Getting a pre-approval "locks you in" - if you have a pre-approval with a broker and their associated bank, you're much more likely to stick with them rather than find another broker or go directly to a bank.
- Most people (brokers included) think that pre-approvals are essential to the home buying process.
But pre-approvals are not without their drawbacks.
Here are some issues with pre-approvals that you might not be aware of:
- A pre-approval is not a guarantee of approval:
Pre-approvals tell you that a bank or lender is highly likely to approve your loan when you apply, but it's not a guarantee. If your situation changes, the bank changes their policies, or they have an issue with the home you eventually buy then you risk your application being declined when you go to apply for your loan.
- Not all pre-approvals are created equal:
Some lenders will only perform a basic, automated check for pre-approvals rather than a full assessment of your situation. To put it bluntly, automated pre-approvals are not worth the paper they are printed on. If a lender has not done a thorough analysis of your situation, then there is a much higher chance of your loan being declined due to policy issues or other criteria that weren't assessed at the time of your pre-approval.
- You are "stuck" with the bank you have a pre-approval for:
You should only get a pre-approval from one bank at a time to avoid damaging your credit score by doing lots of applications in a short period. So if another bank or lender announces a new, better rate, you will have to re-apply for a pre-approval (and potentially damage your credit file) or accept the increased costs of staying with your current lender.
- Pre-approvals do not last indefinitely:
Most pre-approvals only last for 90 days. Some banks will allow 180 days, but either way: if for any reason you aren't able to find the right home within that time frame, you'll need to re-apply for another pre-approval. That means wasted time and effort on your part, plus you'll have to hit your credit file again in 90 days time for an updated pre-approval.
We decided there must be a better way. So in 2020, we introduced what we call the "Eligibility Letter". Rather than go through the formal process of pre-approval with a bank, we instead use our internal team of expert credit analysts to review your situation.
An Eligibility Letter gives you the same information and the same confidence about your situation as a pre-approval, but better:
- Comprehensive credit analysis:
During the Eligibility Letter process, our internal credit team will perform an extremely thorough analysis of your goals and finances. We go through the banks' actual credit criteria to make sure you are eligible and will qualify for a loan. In fact, it is the same process that we use when you are applying for a full home loan application. Compared to an automated pre-approval, it is much more detailed and much more useful.
- It keeps your options open:
An Eligibility Letter doesn't lock you into any particular bank. So if one of the banks or lenders announces a great new rate, you are free to choose them without the rigmarole of going through another pre-approval.
- Faster turnaround times (a lot faster):
A regular pre-approval takes a lot of time. In some cases as long as 35 days. That's because the banks need to dedicate time towards assessing your application. And since a pre-approval isn't a guaranteed payoff for them, pre-approvals are at the bottom of the priority list. Eligibility Letters don't have that limitation. Our internal credit team is lightning-fast - we can get your mock pre-approval done within 3 days if you give us the documents we need.
There are still some situations where we need to do pre-approvals. For example, typically we would recommend that you get a pre-approval if you're planning on buying at auction, since it does provide a higher level of confidence of your loan being approved. However, in the majority of cases, an Eligibility Letter will be the best choice for you. During the information session, your broker will discuss the pros and cons of each approach and help you decide which way to go.
The Pre-Approval or Eligibility Letter process
The processes for getting a Pre-Approval or Eligibility Letter are very similar, with a few minor differences. Here's how it works:
We Collect Your Financial Information
After your information session, your broker will send you a few information requests. There are a few things we need in order to process your Pre-Approval or Eligibility Letter. This includes:
- Your Details:
We need to collect some basic details about you and your co-applicant (if applicable). This includes your contact information, residential details, employment situation and income, assets and liabilities. We do this using a simple form.
- Your Supporting Documentation:
We will ask for some supporting documentation to help us to review your file. This will include payslips, bank statements, and other documentation depending on your situation. We collect this using a secure, encrypted online tool.
Once we have collected your details and documentation, our expert credit analysis team gets to work. We have developed a systematic review process to assess your chances of getting your home loan approved, split into three core components:
- Your credit file
Our analysts will comb through your credit report to make sure it is accurate. We will make sure that any debts recorded are correct, and that your payment record is accurate. If there are defaults, we will review them to ensure that they are genuine and reflect your actual credit situation.
- Employment history, job, and income:
Your length of employment, job type, and income have a big impact on which banks or lenders will be willing to offer you a loan.
- Your deposit:
Your deposit is the other main factor in your ability to get a loan. We will review your deposit and access to other funds (such as grants) to see whether you have enough deposit to qualify for a loan.
We take the information gleaned from the credit review process and use a custom loan policy checker that checks over 4,890 data points across our panel of lenders to see which lender will be your best option.
Once our credit team have worked their magic, your broker will review your file to make sure that everything is as it should be.
If we're doing an Eligibility Letter for you, then at this point your broker will give you a call to discuss the results of your assessment. They will also give you some guidance on how to find the right property for the right price using our proprietary PLAN/SEARCH/SETTLE model.
Once that's done, you'll be ready to start searching for your ideal home, armed with the knowledge and confidence that you're ready to buy.
If we're doing a pre-approval for you, then there's one more step.
We Send Your Information to the Bank or Lender
If we need to do a pre-approval, then once our internal credit team and your broker have reviewed your file, we will send your pre-approval application to your chosen bank or lender.
We will work with them to get your pre-approval completed as quickly as possible, but bear in mind that this takes time - usually 4 to 6 weeks.
Once your pre-approval is complete, then we will give you a call to go through the details and give you the resources and tools you need to get out there and find your new property.
Applying for Your Loan
Once you have a contract in hand, it's time to apply for formal approval of your loan. As with everything we do here at Hunter Galloway, we have built our processes to maximise your chances of approval, and to get it done in record time. Here's how we do it:
1. Collect Any Missing Information
We have a checklist of information and documents that we will need before we can move forward with your application. We respect your time and don't want to delay your application due to missing information.
So we do everything we can to collect the data we need before you meet with your broker to select a lender and loan package.
If you have done a pre-approval or Eligibility Letter, we will have most of what we need, but there will still be some items that you'll need to send us. If you're going straight to formal approval, then we'll need to collect a bit more info.
Either way, our credit team will be in touch to collect all the necessary information. We know that you're busy and buying a home is stressful, so we only ask from you what is truly necessary. So please do what you can to deliver everything before your finance meeting - it will save you a lot of time and reduces the risk of any issues with your application.
2. Internal Credit Review
As with pre-approvals and Eligibility Letter, we get our superstar credit team to conduct a thorough review and analysis of your file before you meet with your broker.
This is another thing we do that many brokers don't. And we do it for a good reason: the sooner we know about any potential issues with your application, the sooner we can resolve them (or find you an alternative lender).
This internal review process, among other things, is one of the reasons why Hunter Galloway has a 97% success rate for our loan applications while the industry average is only 60%.
If there is missing information that we need, your assigned credit analyst will be in touch to collect it from you. Again, we know that stress is at an all-time high during this part of the home buying process, but we appreciate you working with us to provide the information we need. It will make the rest of the process much, much smoother for you.
Your broker will review your file before your finance meeting to make sure that everything's in order, and to prepare everything so that your finance meeting is as productive as possible.
3. Finance Meeting with Your Broker
Once we've completed your credit review, your broker will book you in for a meeting, either in-person or via video conference.
During this meeting, we will do a comprehensive review of your financial goals, your financial situation, and your eligibility for a home loan across our panel of lenders. We will provide you with a shortlist of lenders who we think will offer you the best solution given your circumstances.
Once we've discussed your home loan options and you've decided on a loan package, there will be a form to sign called a Credit Proposal Disclosure.
This form sets out all of the important information that you need to know about when we provide you with credit assistance (in other words, when we help you to apply for a loan). Signing this form gives us permission to act on your behalf when dealing with lenders.
Once this is signed, we can put together your loan application and get everything ready to submit to the bank.
4. Approval In Principle (Conditional Approval)
Once your loan application has been submitted to the bank, it's time to sit back and wait for them to assess your application.
It usually takes between three and five days for your home loan application to progress through the queue, be picked up by one of the bank's credit officers and then receive conditional approval.
If there is missing information on your application, this can delay the process, since we need to collect the missing information from you and re-submit the application to the bank. We try to avoid this as much as possible, which is why we take the time in Steps 1 and 2 to make sure we have everything we need upfront.
Conditional approval means that your loan will be approved by the bank subject to certain conditions. Most commonly, a conditional approval will be subject to you finding a suitable property, or subject to a satisfactory property valuation.
Banks and lenders want to have a valuation of your property before they will give you unconditional approval for your loan. Basically, they want to make sure that the property is actually worth what you're proposing to pay for it. Unfortunately, they won't take your word for it.
A property valuer will work on behalf of the bank to give them a valuation of the property. While they work for the bank, they are not employed directly by the bank meaning that their valuation is independent and unbiased.
In many cases, we can arrange for valuations upfront before your loan is submitted, which speeds up the process and means we can go directly to unconditional approval.
6. Formal Approval (Unconditional Approval)
A formal approval, also known as unconditional approval, means that the lender is happy to approve your loan! They will send you an unconditional approval letter that confirms everything is in writing.
Formal approval can take between one day and one week to complete once you have received conditional approval.
If you have included a finance clause on your contract (which we strongly recommend), you want to wait for unconditional approval before satisfying your finance clause.
7. Signing Your Loan Documents
Once your loan has been unconditionally approved, the bank will send your loan documents for your to sign. These documents include Loan Contracts, Mortgage Documents, Direct Debit forms, and a bunch of other stuff. They can be a little bit complicated, especially if this is your first time buying a home.
The good news is that we will help you to sign them. Once the bank notifies us that your loan is unconditionally approved, we will be in touch to arrange a time to catch up and help you to sign them. This makes sure that no signatures are missed and everything is filled out correctly. Any mistakes can delay your settlement so we want to make sure we get it done right the first time.
If you are buying a home (vs. refinancing), you will want to get in touch with your solicitor or conveyancer at this point to double-check there aren't any transfer or legal documents you need to sign before settlement.
After your bank receives your loan documents, they will complete their certification to confirm that everything has been signed correctly and to give you the green light to go ahead with settlement.
If you are buying a home, the bank will also get in touch with your solicitor or conveyancer to let them know that everything is good to go. Your solicitor or conveyancer will then arrange the settlement date.
If you're refinancing, your new bank will get in touch with your old bank to arrange a date for settlement.
Other Useful Things to Know
Free Valuations and Credit Reports
We can order free, upfront valuations with some lenders before submitting your application. Ordering a valuation before applying for your home loan ensures that you have the best chance of getting your loan approved the first time. This helps to keep your credit file healthy by avoiding too many enquiries. Whenever possible we will order your valuations upfront.
During our credit assessment, we will also review your credit report to make sure there aren't any issues. If you'd like a free copy of your credit file at any time, just let us know and we will send it to you.
Here's a little secret that you might not know: brokers get different levels of priority access to lenders based on the number of loans they send through. Think of it as something similar to your status with airlines or hotels: the more miles you fly or nights you stay, the more perks you get.
Hunter Galloway has 'Priority Status' with many of the lenders on our panel. What does this mean for you?
Faster approval times and access to special deals that aren't available to the public, or to smaller brokers.
Hunter Galloway gets paid a commission from the banks. That's why we are able to provide our service to you at no charge in most circumstances.
But as they say, "there are no free lunches". We take on the burden of finding the right loan, making you're a good fit for the bank, and doing the work to put together your application. On average it takes us around 40 hours of work to complete each loan application.
The banks are happy to pay us a commission because otherwise they would have to do all of that work themselves. And we're happy because getting paid a commission means we can offer our services to you at no charge.
Rest assured that the amount of commission we are paid by the banks does not in any way influence our advice and recommendations to you. Our expected commission from the banks is clearly outlined in the Credit Proposal Disclosure document that we will give you as part of the application process.
There are some rare situations where we may charge a fee:
- If your loan amount is less than $300,000
- If your loan is complicated
- If you are planning on keeping the loan less than two years
In these situations, we may need to charge a fee, purely to cover the costs involved in preparing these applications. As mentioned above, it takes us around 40 hours on average to complete each loan application. If we do not charge a fee to cover our costs, we would quickly become unprofitable and go out of business, and we would no longer be able to help you with achieving your financial goals.
If for any reason we are unable to help you with your home loan application or the lender we choose declines your loan, there are no fees for our services.