by Broderick Perkins
(5/2/2012) ERATE Exclusive - Along with household cleaners by the case, beef in bulk and books by the bushel, Costco members can now check out a mortgage.
The venture finds Issaquah, WA-based Costco Wholesale Corp. teaming up its online Costco operation with New Jersey-chartered First Choice Bank and about a dozen lenders to create Costco Finance offering both home purchase and refinance mortgages for civilians and veterans.
The members-only warehouse giant promises mortgage savings - a cap of $600 to $750 in lender fees for certain members and up to $5,000 over the life of a loan.
Competitive mortgage rates are also part of the package.
The plan is to create mortgage discounts from loan volume just as Costco buys and sells products in bulk. It's 600 big-box warehouse outlets offer discounts on everything from appliances to video games.
Costco is also counting on the loyalty of its nearly 66 million card-holding members.
In February, Costco topped the list of major retail chains, beating out Target, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club Macy's and others in a Consumer Reports' survey of more than 26,000 of the independent magazine's readers. The discount superstore was the only chain to earn an outstanding grade for the overall quality of its merchandise, whether in stores or online.
Luckily, you won't have to stand in line for a mortgage.
Much like LendingTree and similar sites, Costco Finance offers an online form members use to enter mortgage and refinance loan comparison information. The participating lenders respond with quotes. A good way to compare rates with minimal work.
Of course one-stop mortgage shopping is never a good idea. Consumers should also seek and compare rates elsewhere.
Costco's rate and fee savings are based on results from a survey of national lenders by Informa Research Services, Inc., which also provides rate comparison services for Erate.com.
Costco first offered home loans a few years back, but the mortgage money partner wasn't transparent enough with information provided Costco members. An estimated 10,000 members already have Costco mortgages.
Costco also offers a host of financial services for members including auto, home, health and dental insurance; savings and CDs; online investing and small business financial services.
Auto and student loans are up next.
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