The Bottom Line: NBKC offers digital tools, dedicated loan officers, flat origination fees and free rate locks.
Pros & Cons
Complete and track your application online, and sign documents electronically.
Free rate locks.
No lender fee for VA borrowers.
Mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Not the best choice for low-credit-score borrowers.
Mortgage origination fee for most borrowers.
In-person service available only in the Kansas City area.
NBKC Bank isn’t a household name, but the mortgage lender hopes to change that by being audacious and nimble.
The Kansas City, Missouri-based lender wields technology to compete in a business filled with much bigger and more established lenders.
“We’ve got to be scrappier and more innovative for us to be successful,” says Dan Stevens, NBKC Bank vice president of mortgage strategy. He says the bank has three strengths that can give it an advantage: quick loan closings, competitive interest rates and attentive customer service.
Here is what NBKC Bank offers mortgage borrowers and what sets it apart.
How NBKC Bank works
National Bank of Kansas City has concentrated on Internet-based mortgages since it was launched in 1999, in the dawn of electronic mortgage banking. The privately owned bank was renamed NBKC Bank in 2015.
Dan Stevens, NBKC Bank vice president of mortgage strategy
We’ve got to be scrappier and more innovative for us to be successful.”
You may encounter NBKC Bank through Costco’s mortgage program, one of its largest sources of customer referrals. If you call to ask about a mortgage, you'll talk with a loan agent in the company's Midwestern headquarters. It is a full-service community bank, but except for a few brick-and mortar branches in and near Overland Park, Kansas, it conducts its business online.
Automation is critical in this approach, says Chad Cronk, NBKC’s director of mortgage.
For example, while most mortgage lenders use electronic signatures today, NBKC adopted the technology years ago. The bank says the move helped shave a day or two off the time to process a mortgage. It reports that an average of 38 days elapses between the application date and closing date — fewer days than the industry average. Such changes helped the bank cut expenses, allowing it to give rate quotes that are one-quarter to three-eighths of a percentage point lower than those a larger bank might offer, Stevens says.
But the human touch can be lost when technology fills in. How well does NBKC handle this?
“Our approach is to keep a high-quality loan officer involved with that transaction. We still really care about the type of employee who is engaging with the customers,” Stevens says. Positive online reviews at the Better Business Bureau and elsewhere provide a clue to customers’ satisfaction.
NBKC home loan products
NBKC offers conventional, FHA and VA fixed-rate and adjustable purchase mortgages, refinancing, jumbo loans and home equity products. You’ll also find deposit accounts and commercial and small business loans.
A credit score of at least 620 is required for a conventional mortgage. With a score under 620 you may be better served by lenders with expertise in finding loans for lower-credit-score borrowers, Stevens says. When applying for an FHA or VA loan, you can qualify with rent and utility payments if there aren't enough other types of accounts in your credit report.
Helping veterans with mortgages is an area of expertise; VA loans account for 36% of the bank’s mortgages, although they are just 11% of mortgages nationwide.
NBKC lender fees and mortgage rates
To see mortgage rates, you must answer seven questions (such as whether this is a purchase or refinance, and what your credit score is). That, Cronk says, allows for realistic rates instead of quotes you may not qualify for.
A chat box that pops up shows quotes for each of several loan types (for example, a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, a 15-year fixed and a 5/1 ARM). With each quote, the user will see a rate, APR, lender fees (including any points) and a payment amount including principal and interest.
The bank’s loan origination fee is a flat $675 (not including fees for third-party services like an appraisal and title search). Costco members, depending on their membership, pay $275 or $575. Lender fees are waived for VA loans, and mortgage interest rate locks are free for all borrowers.
The NBKC Bank mortgage process
You can complete your entire application online or pick up the phone at any point for help. You can skip back and forth in the application and leave it, picking up later where you stopped. Upload documents from your computer and track your application’s progress online or through the bank’s mobile apps.
Each application has a dedicated loan officer who shares his or her personal contact information, Cronk says. You can be preapproved or pre-qualified for a mortgage online or over the phone. Customer service help is available by phone and through online chat during business hours. Loan officers frequently answer customers' questions outside of business hours, too, Stevens says.
Did you know?
Since NBKC is part of Costco's mortgage lender marketplace, Costco members could qualify for a discount on loan origination fees: loan origination fees are capped at $350 for Executive members and $650 for Gold Star and Business members. Contact NBKC to learn more.
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NerdWallet's star ratings for mortgage lenders are awarded based on our evaluation of the products and services that lenders offer to consumers who are actively shopping for the best mortgage. The six key areas we evaluated include the loan types and loan products offered, online capabilities, online mortgage rate information, customer service and the number of complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as a percentage of loans issued. We also awarded lenders up to one bonus star for a unique program or borrower focus that set them apart from other lenders. To ensure consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet Mortgages team.