Falcon Credit & Debit Card Fraud Monitoring

Do I have to enroll with Falcon to have my card monitored?

No. Falcon monitors all Southeast Financial credit and debit cards for fraudulent activity. No enrollment is required.

Is there a cost for the Falcon monitoring service?

No. All Southeast Financial credit and debit cards are covered by this service at no cost to the cardholder.

What types of transactions are considered suspicious or fraudulent?
Falcon monitors and analyzes transactions and assigns a rating to the transaction. Based on your normal spending patterns, if a questionable transaction is detected on your Southeast Financial debit or credit card, Falcon will contact you to verify the transaction. In some cases, the transaction may be declined at the point of purchase if the fraud rating is high.
How will I be notified if a transaction is considered suspicious or fraudulent?
If fraudulent activity is detected, Falcon will contact you using the primary telephone number we have on file. If there is no answer, a representative from Falcon will leave you a message requesting a call back to verify the suspected transaction. If you miss the phone call, you can contact the Falcon call center at 1-888-918-7313, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.
How does Falcon verify that they are speaking with the card owner?
Falcon may ask you for information to verify your identity. For example, the last four digits of your Social Security number may be requested. They may also compare the phone number that you call from to see if it matches the phone number that is on file. You'll never be asked for information they already have, like your full account number, PIN or 3-digit code.
Falcon called my home number, but I wasn't there. Why didn't they call my cellphone or work number?
Falcon will contact you using the primary telephone number we have on file. Therefore, it is extremely important that your contact information is up to date. Contact us or visit any branch to verify your current contact information and make any necessary changes.
Can I reply back to the credit union instead of Falcon if I receive a phone call to verify a transaction?
To avoid delays with card usage or confirming potential fraud, we strongly recommend contacting the Falcon Fraud Monitoring Department directly. The staff at Falcon is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to quickly verify transactions and take appropriate action if fraud occurs on your account.
I missed the message from Falcon and now my card is blocked. What should I do?
If Falcon doesn’t hear back from you within 48 hours of calling, your card will be blocked from use as a precautionary measure. If Falcon has blocked your card, you can contact them to un-block it at 1-888-918-7313. They are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Do I still need to monitor my account on my own, since the Falcon service is in place? What is Falcon Fraud Monitoring?
With Falcon Fraud Protection service, your Southeast Financial credit and debit card transaction activity is monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week to better detect fraudulent card use. Our goal is to protect members from the risk associated with fraud and identity theft. Please remember to frequently review your account activity and never hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns. To report fraudulent activity on your Southeast Financial credit or debit card during weekend or evening hours, please call the Falcon Fraud Protection Center at 1-888-918-7313.
Who do I call if I need to report fraudulent activity on my credit or debit card after business hours?

To report fraudulent activity on your Southeast Financial credit or debit card during weekend or evening hours, please call the Falcon Fraud Protection Center at 1-888-918-7313.

Visa Purchase Alerts

What are Purchase Alerts?
Purchase Alerts are messages sent to your email or mobile phone to help you manage and track your signature-based Visa® credit and/or debit card transactions. Alerts provide near real-time notification of transaction activity based on your alert settings. You select from preset alerts and specify the settings for the alerts you want to receive (for example, the option to be notified when a transaction exceeds a specific value). Information in the alert includes the amount of the transaction, the merchant name and location (if available), and the last 4 digits of the Visa card used. Alerts can be sent to an e-mail address or to a mobile phone as an SMS text message
What are the benefits of Purchase Alerts?

The advantages of Purchase Alerts are that they:

  • Let you monitor your card's signature-based purchase transactions in near-real-time
  • Offer you peace of mind by providing timely information that helps you monitor your Visa card for suspicious activity.
  • Give you a tool to help you manage your money.
What type of cards can I enroll in Purchase Alerts?
You can enroll most Visa credit and debit cards. For debit cards, Purchase Alerts are not available for purchases that require you enter a PIN number. You can enroll your card if you’re sharing an account; the primary account holder on the card designates the Purchase Alert settings. Purchase Alerts are available for business credit cards as well.
Can multiple Visa credit cards on one account receive Purchase Alerts? Can two debit cards on the same checking account receive Purchase Alerts? Can I have different Purchase Alerts settings for different cards or will all my cards be enrolled with the same alert selection settings?

Each card can be set up with unique alert settings.

Is there a charge to enroll in Purchase Alerts?

You can enroll in Purchase Alerts at no charge from Southeast Financial. Standard mobile text and data charges apply for SMS alerts.

How quickly after I enroll in Purchase Alerts will I begin receiving alerts?

After you enroll, you will immediately begin receiving alert messages.

What types of Purchase Alerts are available?
The following alerts are available:
  • Threshold transaction: An alert is sent if a purchase amount is greater than a preset dollar amount.
  • Card-not-present transaction: An alert is sent if a purchase is made without having to physically present the card at the point of sale, such as when a purchase is made online or by phone.
  • International transaction: An alert is sent if a purchase is made outside the country that issued the Visa card.
  • Gasoline transaction: An alert is sent if a purchase is made at a gas station (i.e., fuel, car wash)
  • Declined transaction: An alert is sent if a purchase is made and subsequently declined for any reason.

EMV Chip Cards

What is an EMV Chip card?
EMV chip cards incorporate micro-computer technology, providing increased security capabilities for both card transactions and your information, which is stored in the small metallic square on the front of the cards. EMV technology ensures that you have the most secure and seamless purchasing experience possible and is one of the most effective tools being using to prevent the spread of credit card fraud.
How do I get an EMV Chip card?

You don't need to do anything to upgrade to an EMV credit or debit card.

All non-chip debit cards were reissued with new debit cards containing the EMV chip in early 2016.

All non-chip credit cards will be replaced with credit cards containing the EMV chip as they expire.

If you have a Visa Credit Card, you may request a new card before your current card expires, but you'll need to pay a $10 reissue fee. Otherwise, you'll receive your new card shortly before your existing card expires.

What should I do when I get my new EMV Card?
When you receive your new EMV card, the card number will be different than the number on your old card. It's important that you contact any companies that take automatic payments using your card and ask that they update your account with this new number.

Because your new card will have a new card number, you'll need to call the PIN change line, 1-866-985-2273, to set up your PIN. You may use the same PIN as you used previously with your old card or pick a new one. The choice is yours, but it's important that you call to set it up in order to use your card when a PIN is required.

How do I use an EMV Chip card reader?

Using your EMV Chip card takes 3 simple steps:

  1. Insert your card into the bottom of the card reader.
  2. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete your transaction.
  3. Remove your card from the card reader when prompted.
Why is it more secure to use EMV credit and debit cards for payment transactions?

EMV cards store payment information in a secure chip rather than on a magnetic stripe, and the personalization of EMV cards is done using issuer-specific keys. Unlike a magnetic stripe card, it is virtually impossible to create a counterfeit EMV card that can be used to conduct an EMV payment transaction successfully.

What type of information is stored on EMV Chip Cards?
The microchip embedded in the card stores information required to authenticate, authorize and process transactions. This is the same type of information already stored in the magnetic stripe. No personal information about your account is stored on the chip card.
What are the benefits of EMV Chip Cards?
The biggest benefit of EMV chip cards lies in the powerful fraud prevention technology inherent in the chip. Because the EMV chip is essentially a small, secure computer, EMV cards are nearly impossible to counterfeit. By replacing the current unencrypted magnetic stripe with a chip embedded in the card, smartcard technology adds dynamic data to the transaction process, making it far less vulnerable to fraudsters.
Will magnetic stripes be discontinued on credit and debit cards?
No, magnetic stripes will continue to be used on cards so they can be used at terminals in countries that have not yet converted to chip technology, including the United States. Many major retailers have already made the conversion to EMV chip card readers. When you complete your transaction with these merchants, your chip card will be used for payment at the checkout. When paying a merchant who has not yet made the transition to EMV chip card readers, your card will be run through a magnetic stripe reader.
Where has EMV been adopted?

EMV has been implemented in more than 80 countries around the world, with approximately 1.5 billion EMV cards issued globally and 21.9 million POS terminals accepting EMV cards at the end of 2011. The U.S. payments infrastructure is now moving to EMV with incentives and requirements for issuers, acquirers/processors and merchants to adopt EMV.

The United States is one of the last countries to migrate to EMV. In 2011 and 2012, American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa all announced their plans for moving to an EMV-based payments infrastructure in the U.S.

Online Banking Registration & Security

What are the requirements for my User Name?

When creating a User Name, be sure it meets these requirements:

  • Must be between six and 20 characters long
  • May be alphabetic or alphanumeric
  • Must not contain any spaces
  • We recommend including one or more of the following special characters for maximum protection: $*_-=.!~@
What are the requirements for my Password?

When creating a Password, be sure it meets these requirements:

  • Must be between six and 32 characters long
  • May be alphanumeric or a combination of letters or numbers and one or more of the following special characters for maximum protection: $*_-=.!~@
  • Must not contain any spaces
  • Cannot match the Username
Why do you need my telephone number?

We use your phone number to send a one-time security code that you'll need in order to complete the registration process. You can choose to receive the code via text or voice message.

Requiring something you know (User Name and Password) and something you have (your telephone) is called multi-factor authentication. This security strategy helps mitigate the risk of fraud, and is in accordance with guidance published by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC).

What is multi-factor authentication?

Online Banking technology uses multi-factor authentication to protect your account information. It's a two step sign-on process that makes hacking more difficult, because the hacker would need access to multiple items in order to breach your account.

Continue Reading
Will I need my phone every time I log in to my account?


What are eStatements?
An eStatement is an electronic version of your statement. It provides you an alternate way to receive and store your monthly or quarterly statement from SFCU through Online Banking.
Are eStatements safe?
All security precautions have been taken to ensure the confidentiality of your electronic statement. Logging into Online Banking ensures that viewing your eStatement is safe as every other transaction you make with Southeast Financial.
How do I sign up for eStatements? Will I continue to receive paper statements?
No, your paper statements will stop once you sign-up for eStatements. If you sign up for eStatements by the last business day of the month, your next statement will come electronically
How will I receive eStatements?

After signing up for eStatements, you will receive your first email notification to the email address you specified at the beginning of the following month. You will continue to receive a monthly email notification that your eStatement is available. You will be provided a link to access your eStatement or you can log into Online Banking and click on the eStatements link anytime.

If you have a savings account only, you will only receive statements quarterly (January, April, July, and October), unless you have direct deposit or any other ACH transaction.

How long will I be able to view my eStatements online?
eStatements are available for 18 months online. You can also download and save eStatements for your records.
Will my eStatement look the same as my paper statement?
Yes, it will look almost identical and will include all inserts mailed with the paper statements. Variation may occur depending on your operating system and internet browser.
Is there a charge for eStatements?
No, eStatements are free!
How do I cancel my eStatement?
Log in to Online Banking and access your eStatements. Click on Settings then Discontinue/Resume Accounts. Check the box for the account you want to cancel and click submit. You can stop and start eStatements at any time. Remember that there is a $3 fee for paper statements.
What is a PDF file?
A PDF (Portable Document Formant) is a universal file formant that preserves all the fonts, formatting, graphics, and color of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. Adobe PDF files are compact and can be shared, viewed, navigated, and printed exactly as intended by anyone using Adobe Acrobat Reader.
How can I get Acrobat Reader?
You can download it for free from Adobe's website here.
I'm receiving an error message during eStatement registration. What can I do?
  • Make sure you've installed Acrobat Reader and it's up-to-date.
  • Check to see if you're using a recommended operating system and browser here.
  • Clear your browser's cache and cookies and try registering again.
  • If you continue to experience issues, call Member Services at 615-743-3700 or 1-800-521-9653.

Remote Deposit

What is Remote Deposit?
Remote Deposit is a free, secure, online banking service that allows eligible Southeast Financial Credit Union (SFCU) members to deposit funds using a scanner and computer, iPhone, or smartphone with an Android operating system, into their SFCU account.
Who is eligible to use Remote Deposit?

Remote Deposit is available to any SFCU member, 18 years of age and older, with an open active account in good standing. A valid email address is also required.

How do I sign up for Remote Deposit? How will I receive notifications about Remote Deposit registration and deposits?

All notifications will be sent to the email address listed under the My Settings link in Online Banking. Please verify that the email address listed is current and correct.

What equipment is needed for Remote Deposit?

The following are the minimum currently supported environments.

For Home Scanning:

  • Windows XP or Vista with Internet Explorer 7+
  • Windows XP or Vista with Firefox 2+
  • Mac OS X 10.6 with Safari 3+ (must be run in 32-bit mode)
  • Mac OS X 10.6 with Firefox 2+
  • TWAIN-compliant document scanner

Note:To find out if your scanner is compliant, refer to the documentation that was supplied with the scanner. For help with your scanner, log in to your SFCU Online Banking account and click on the Remote Deposits link. Then click on “Help with Scanners and Drivers” near the bottom of the screen.)

Note: The recommended version of the browsers listed above are Internet Explorer 8, Firefox 3, and Safari 3.1.

For Mobile Devices:

  • For iPhone, the free SFCU app, available through the App Store.
  • For Android phones, the free SFCU app, available through the Google Play Store.
How do I endorse my checks?

You should endorse your checks with your name as it appears on the front of the check, and then include the following information:

  • For deposit only at SFCU
  • Your account number
  • Via Remote Deposit
  • On date (in mm/dd/yyyy format)
What happens to the image(s) after scanning?

Home Scanning: When using the Remote Deposit system through Online Banking, the scanned images will stay on the system until the deposit is submitted.

Mobile Devices: When using an iPhone or Android phone for scanning, check images captured are stored on the device until they have been submitted successfully.

Note: Please try to complete each deposit promptly. In the event that you are unable to promptly complete your deposit, please delete the associated images from the application.

How long should the check(s) be saved after scanning?

Checks should be securely stored for a period of seven (7) days after you receive confirmation from Remote Deposit that your deposit has been accepted.

Do I need to include a deposit slip with my deposit?

No. Remote Deposit generates an electronic record with each deposit.

When will the deposit be credited and available?

Deposits received before 3:00 pm Central Standard Time (CST) will be credited to your account by the next business day. Deposits received after 3:00 pm CST will be credited to your account by the second business day. Business days are Monday through Friday, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. SFCU standard Funds Availability Policy does apply to items deposited via Remote Deposit.

What types of checks cannot be submitted using Remote Deposit? How will the deposit appear on my statement?
The deposit will appear with the description “Remote Deposit” on statements.
Is my information secure?

Home Scanning: Check images captured using your scanner will stay on the system until the deposit is submitted.

Mobile Devices: Check images captured using your iPhone or Android phone will be stored on the device until they have been submitted successfully.

Note: Please try to complete each deposit promptly. In the event that you are unable to promptly complete your deposit, please delete the associated images from the application.

Is there a fee for Remote Deposit?

There is no fee for the Remote Deposit service. Please refer to the SFCU Schedule of Products and Fees for any associated fees that may apply.

How can I get a copy of my images after submitting my deposit?

Within the Remote Deposit system, images are available under the “Deposit History” tab at the top right corner of the page. A copy can be printed or saved to a file on your computer for your records. This history is available for 18 months.

Where can I go to receive help?

If you are within the Remote Deposit section of Online Banking, you can select “Help” or “?” as you begin the transaction to receive information specific to that page. You may also send an email to member.service@southeastfinancial.org or call 800-521-9653.

Your Property

What types of things will an underwriter look for when they review the appraisal?
In addition to verifying that your home's value supports your loan request, we'll also verify that your home is as marketable as others in the area. We'll want to be confident that if you decide to sell your home, it will be as easy to market as other homes in the area.

We certainly don't expect that you'll default under the terms of your loan and that a forced sale will be necessary, but as the lender, we'll need to make sure that if a sale is necessary, it won't be difficult to find another buyer.

We'll review the features of your home and compare them to the features of other homes in the neighborhood. For example, if your home is on a 20-acre lot, or has a large accessory building, we'll want to make sure that there are other homes in the area on similar size lots or with similar outbuildings. It is hard to place a value on such unique features if we can't see what other buyers are willing to pay for them. In some areas, additional acreage or outbuildings could actually be a detriment to a future sale. Finding comparable properties can be more challenging in rural areas where it is more difficult to find homes that have similar features.

We'll also make sure that the value of your home is in the same range as other homes in the area. If the value of your home is substantially more than other homes in the neighborhood, it could affect the market acceptance of the home if you decide to sell.

We'll also review the market statistics about your neighborhood. We'll look at the time on the market for homes that have sold recently and verify that values are steady or increasing.
Will I get a copy of the appraisal?
As soon as we receive your appraisal, we'll update your loan with the estimated value of the home. We will promptly give you a copy of any appraisal, even if your loan does not close.
Are there any special requirements for condominiums?
Since the value and marketability of condominium properties is dependent on items that don't apply to single-family homes, there are some additional steps that must be taken to determine if condominiums meet our guidelines.

One of the most important factors is determining if the project that the condominium is located in is complete. In many cases, it will be necessary for the project, or at least the phase that your unit is located in, to be complete before we can provide financing. The main reason for this is, until the project is complete, we can't be certain that the remaining units will be of the same quality as the existing units. This could affect the marketability of your home.

In addition, we'll consider the ratio of non-owner occupied units to owner-occupied units. This could also affect future marketability since many people would prefer to live in a project that is occupied by owners rather than renters.

We'll also carefully review the appraisal to insure that it includes comparable sales of properties within the project, as well as some from outside the project. Our experience has found that using comparable sales from both the same project as well as other projects gives us a better idea of the condominium project's marketability.

Depending on the percentage of the property's value you'd like to finance, other items may also need to be reviewed.
I'm purchasing a home, do I need a home inspection AND an appraisal?
Both a home inspection and an appraisal are designed to protect you against potential issues with your new home. Although they have totally different purposes, it makes the most sense to rely on each to help confirm that you've found the perfect home.

The appraiser will make note of obvious construction problems such as termite damage, dry rot or leaking roofs or basements. Other obvious interior or exterior damage that could affect the salability of the property will also be reported.

However, appraisers are not construction experts and won't find or report items that are not obvious. They won't turn on every light switch, run every faucet or inspect the attic or mechanicals. That's where the home inspector comes in. They generally perform a detailed inspection and can educate you about possible concerns or defects with the home.

Accompany the inspector during the home inspection. This is your opportunity to gain knowledge of major systems, appliances and fixtures, learn maintenance schedules and tips, and to ask questions about the condition of the home.
I've heard that some lenders require flood insurance on properties. Will you?

Federal Law requires all lenders to investigate whether or not each home they finance is in a special flood hazard area as defined by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The law can't stop floods. Floods happen anytime, anywhere. But the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 help to ensure that you will be protected from financial losses caused by flooding.

We use a third party company who specializes in the reviewing of flood maps prepared by FEMA to determine if your home is located in a flood area. If it is, then flood insurance coverage will be required, since standard homeowner's insurance doesn't protect you against damages from flooding.

How long does it take for the property appraisal to be completed?
Licensed appraisers who are familiar with home values in your area perform appraisals. We order the appraisal as soon as the application deposit is paid. Generally, it takes 10-14 days before the written report is sent to us. We follow up with the appraiser to insure that it is completed as soon as possible. If you are refinancing, and an interior inspection of the home is necessary, the appraiser should contact you to schedule a viewing appointment. If you don't hear from the appraiser within seven days of the order date, please inform your Loan Officer. If you are purchasing a new home, the appraiser will contact the real estate agent, if you are using one, or the seller to schedule an appointment to view the home. We will promptly give you a copy of any appraisal, even if your loan does not close.
What is an appraisal and who completes it?
To determine the value of the property you are purchasing or refinancing, an appraisal will be required. An appraisal report is a written description and estimate of the value of the property. National standards govern not only the format for the appraisal; they also specify the appraiser's qualifications and credentials. In addition, most states now have licensing requirements for appraisers evaluating properties located within their states.

The appraiser will create a written report for us and we will promptly give you a copy, even if your loan does not close. If you'd like to review it earlier, your Loan Officer would be happy to provide it to you.

Usually the appraiser will inspect both the interior and exterior of the home. However, in some cases, only an exterior inspection will be necessary based on your financial strength and the location of the home. Exterior-only inspections usually save time and money, but if you're purchasing a new home, your Loan Officer will contact you to determine if you'd be more comfortable with a full inspection.

After the appraiser inspects the property, they will compare the qualities of your home with other homes that have sold recently in the same neighborhood. These homes are called "comparables" and play a significant role in the appraisal process. Using industry guidelines, the appraiser will try to weigh the major components of these properties (i.e., design, square footage, number of rooms, lot size, age, etc.) to the components of your home to come up with an estimated value of your home. The appraiser adjusts the price of each comparable sale (up or down) depending on how it compares (better or worse) with your property. Continue Reading

Your Application

Can I apply for a loan before I find a property to purchase?

Yes, applying for a mortgage loan before you find a home may be the best thing you could do! If you apply for your mortgage now, we'll issue an approval subject to you finding the perfect home. You can use the pre-approval letter to assure real estate brokers and sellers that you are a qualified buyer. Having a pre-approval for a mortgage may give more weight to any offer to purchase that you make.

When you find the perfect home, you'll simply call your Loan Officer to complete your application. You'll have an opportunity to lock in our great rates and fees then and we'll complete the processing of your request.

What is a credit score and how will my credit score affect my application?
A credit score is one of the pieces of information that we'll use to evaluate your application. Financial institutions have been using credit scores to evaluate credit card and auto applications for many years, but only recently have mortgage lenders begun to use credit scoring to assist with their loan decisions.

Credit scores are based on information collected by credit bureaus and information reported each month by your creditors about the balances you owe and the timing of your payments. A credit score is a compilation of all this information converted into a number that helps a lender to determine the likelihood that you will repay the loan on schedule. The credit score is calculated by the credit bureau, not by the lender. Credit scores are calculated by comparing your credit history with millions of other consumers. They have proven to be a very effective way of determining credit worthiness.

Some of the things that affect your credit score include your payment history, your outstanding obligations, the length of time you have had outstanding credit, the types of credit you use, and the number of inquiries that have been made about your credit history in the recent past.

Credit scores used for mortgage loan decisions range from approximately 300 to 900. Generally, the higher your credit score, the lower the risk that your payments won't be paid as agreed.

Using credit scores to evaluate your credit history allows us to quickly and objectively evaluate your credit history when reviewing your loan application. However, there are many other factors when making a loan decision and we never evaluate an application without looking at the total financial picture of a customer.
Will the inquiry about my credit affect my credit score?
An abundance of credit inquiries can sometimes affect your credit scores since it may indicate that your use of credit is increasing.

But don't overreact! The data used to calculate your credit score doesn't include any mortgage or auto loan credit inquiries that are made within the 30 days prior to the score being calculated. In addition, all mortgage inquiries made in any 14-day period are always considered one inquiry. Don't limit your mortgage shopping for fear of the effect on your credit score.
Will I be charged any fees if I authorize my credit information to be accessed?
There is no charge to you for the credit information we'll access with your permission to evaluate your application online. You will only be charged for a credit report if you decide to complete the application process after your loan is approved.
Are we right for you?
Whether you're purchasing or refinancing, we're certain you'll find our service amazing!

If you'll be purchasing but haven't found the perfect home yet, complete our application and we'll issue an approval for a mortgage loan now with no obligation!
Can I really borrow funds to use towards my down payment?
Yes, you can borrow funds to use as your down payment! However, any loans that you take out must be secured by an asset that you own. If you own something of value that you could borrow funds against such as a car or another home, it's a perfectly acceptable source of funds. If you are planning on obtaining a loan, make sure to include the details of this loan in the Expenses section of the application.
How do you decide what you need from me to process my loan?
We take full advantage of an automated underwriting system that allows us to request as little information as possible to verify the data you provided during your loan application. Gone are the days when it was necessary to verify every piece of data collected during the application. The automated underwriting system compares your financial situation with statistical data from millions of other homeowners and uses that comparison to determine the level of verification needed. In many cases, a single W-2 or pay stub can be used to verify your income or a single bank statement can be used to verify the assets needed to close your loan.
I'm self-employed. How will you verify my income?
Generally, the income of self-employed borrowers is verified by obtaining copies of personal (and business, if applicable) federal tax returns for the most recent two-year period. However, based on your entire financial situation, we may not need full copies of your tax returns.

We'll review and average the net income from self-employment that's reported on your tax returns to determine the income that can be used to qualify. We won't be able to consider any income that hasn't been reported as such on your tax returns. Typically, we'll need at least one, and sometimes a full two-year history of self-employment to verify that your self-employment income is stable.
Will my overtime, commission, or bonus income be considered when evaluating my application?
In order for bonus, overtime, or commission income to be considered, you must have a history of receiving it and it must be likely to continue. We'll usually need to obtain copies of W-2 statements for the previous two years and a recent pay stub to verify this type of income. If a major part of your income is commission earnings, we may need to obtain copies of recent tax returns to verify the amount of business-related expenses, if any. We'll average the amounts you have received over the past two years to calculate the amount that can be considered as a regular part of your income.

If you haven't been receiving bonus, overtime, or commission income for at least one year, it probably can't be given full value when your loan is reviewed for approval.
I am retired and my income is from pension or social security. What will I need to provide?
We will ask for copies of your recent pension check stubs, or bank statement if your pension or retirement income is deposited directly in your bank account. Sometimes it will also be necessary to verify that this income will continue for at least three years since some pension or retirement plans do not provide income for life. This can usually be verified with a copy of your award letter. If you don't have an award letter, we can contact the source of this income directly for verification.

If you're receiving tax-free income, such as social security earnings in some cases, we'll consider the fact that taxes will not be deducted from this income when reviewing your request.
If I have income that's not reported on my tax return, can it be considered?
Generally, only income that is reported on your tax return can be considered when applying for a mortgage. Unless, of course, the income is legally tax-free and isn't required to be reported.

Some lenders may offer a stated income program, which means that you can be qualified for a loan based on the income you state rather than that which can be verified. Usually these programs require larger down payments and offer interest rates that are substantially higher than regular mortgage rates. We do not offer stated income programs at this time.
How will rental income be verified?
If you own rental properties, we'll generally ask for the most recent year's federal tax return to verify your rental income. We'll review the Schedule E of the tax return to verify your rental income, after all expenses except depreciation. Since depreciation is only a paper loss, it won't be counted against your rental income.

If you haven't owned the rental property for a complete tax year, we'll ask for a copy of any leases you've executed and we'll estimate the expenses of ownership.
I have income from dividends and/or interest. What documents will I need to provide?

Generally, two years personal tax returns are required to verify the amount of your dividend and/or interest income so that an average of the amounts you receive can be calculated. In addition, we will need to verify your ownership of the assets that generate the income using copies of statements from your financial institution, brokerage statements, stock certificates or Promissory Notes.

Typically, income from dividends and/or interest must be expected to continue for at least three years to be considered for repayment.

Do I have to provide information about my child support, alimony or separate maintenance income?
Information about child support, alimony, or separate maintenance income does not need to be provided unless you wish to have it considered for repaying this mortgage loan.
Will my second job income be considered?
Typically, income from a second job will be considered if a one-year history of secondary employment can be verified
I've had a few employers in the last few years. Will that affect my ability to get a new mortgage?
Having changed employers frequently is typically not a hindrance to obtaining a new mortgage loan. This is particularly true if you made employment changes without having periods of time in between without employment. We'll also look at your income advancements as you have changed employment.

If you're paid on a commission basis, a recent job change may be an issue since we'll have a difficult time of predicting your earnings without a history with your new employer.
I was in school before obtaining my current job. How do I complete the application?
If you were in school before your current job, enter the name of the school you attended and the length of time you were in school in the "length of employment" fields. You can enter a position of "student" and income of "0."
If my property's appraised value is more than the purchase price can I use the difference towards my down payment?
Unfortunately, if you are purchasing a home, we'll have to use the lower of the appraised value or the sales price to determine your down payment requirement.

It's still a great benefit for your financial situation if you are able to purchase a home for less than the appraised value, but our investors don't allow us to use this "instant equity" when making our loan decision.
I'm getting a gift from someone else. Is this an acceptable source of my down payment?
Gifts are an acceptable source of down payment, if the gift giver is related to you or your co-borrower. We'll ask you for the name, address, and phone number of the gift giver, as well as the donor's relationship to you.

If your loan request is for more than 80% of the purchase price, we'll need to verify that you have at least 5% of the property's value in your own assets.

Prior to closing, we'll verify that the gift funds have been transferred to you by obtaining a copy of your bank receipt or deposit slip to verify that you have deposited the gift funds into your account.
I am selling my current home to purchase this home. What type of documentation will be required?
If you're selling your current home to purchase your new home, we'll ask you to provide a copy of the settlement or closing statement you'll receive at the closing to verify that your current mortgage has been paid in full and that you'll have sufficient funds for our closing. Often the closing of your current home is scheduled for the same day as the closing of your new home. If that's the case, we'll just ask you to bring your settlement statement with you to your new mortgage closing.
I am relocating because I have accepted a new job that I haven't started yet. How should I complete the application?
Congratulations on your new job! If you will be working for the same employer, complete the application as such but enter the income you anticipate you'll be receiving at your new location.

If your employment is with a new employer, complete the application as if this were your current employer and indicate that you have been there for one month. The information about the employment you'll be leaving should be entered as a previous employer. We'll sort out the details after you submit your loan for approval.
I've co-signed a loan for another person. Should I include that debt here?
Generally, a co-signed debt is considered when determining your qualifications for a mortgage. If the co-signed debt doesn't affect your ability to obtain a new mortgage we'll leave it at that. However, if it does make a difference, we can ignore the monthly payment of the co-signed debt if you can provide verification that the other person responsible for the debt has made the required payments, by obtaining copies of their cancelled checks for the last six months.
I have student loans that aren't in repayment yet. Should I show them as installment debts?
Any student loan that will go into repayment within the next six months should be included in the application. If you are not sure exactly what the monthly payment will be at this time, enter an estimated amount.

If other student loans are reflected on your final credit report, which will not go into repayment in the next six months, we may need to ask you for verification that repayment will not be required during this time period.
How will a past bankruptcy or foreclosure affect my ability to obtain a new mortgage?
If you've had a bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past, it may affect your ability to get a new mortgage. Unless the bankruptcy or foreclosure was caused by situations beyond your control, we will generally require that two to four years have passed since the bankruptcy or foreclosure. It is also important that you've re-established an acceptable credit history with new loans or credit cards.
What, exactly, is an installment debt?
An installment debt is a loan that you make payments on, such as an auto loan, a student loan or a debt consolidation loan. Do not include payments on other living expenses, such as insurance costs or medical bill payments. We'll include any installment debts that have more than 10 months remaining when determining your qualifications for this mortgage.

Loan Programs, Rates & Fees

How are interest rates determined?
Interest rates fluctuate based on a variety of factors, including inflation, the pace of economic growth, and Federal Reserve policy. Over time, inflation has the largest influence on the level of interest rates. A modest rate of inflation will almost always lead to low interest rates, while concerns about rising inflation normally cause interest rates to increase. Our nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve, implements policies designed to keep inflation and interest rates relatively low and stable.
What is an adjustable rate mortgage?
An adjustable rate mortgage, or an "ARM" as they are commonly called, is a loan type that offers a lower initial interest rate than most fixed rate loans. The trade off is that the interest rate can change periodically, usually in relation to an index, and the monthly payment will go up or down accordingly.

Against the advantage of the lower payment at the beginning of the loan, you should weigh the risk that an increase in interest rates would lead to higher monthly payments in the future. It's a trade-off. You get a lower rate with an ARM in exchange for assuming more risk.

For many people in a variety of situations, an ARM is the right mortgage choice, particularly if your income is likely to increase in the future or if you only plan on being in the home for three to five years. Continue Reading
Should I pay origination points in exchange for a lower interest rate?
Origination points are considered a form of interest. Each point is equal to one percent of the loan amount. You pay them, up front, at your loan closing in exchange for a lower interest rate over the life of your loan. This means more money will be required at closing, however, you will have lower monthly payments over the term of your loan.

To determine whether it makes sense for you to pay origination points, you should compare the cost of the origination points to the monthly payments savings created by the lower interest rate. Divide the total cost of the origination points by the savings in each monthly payment. This calculation provides the number of payments you'll make before you actually begin to save money by paying origination points. If the number of months it will take to recoup the origination points is longer than you plan on having this mortgage, you should consider the loan program option that doesn't require origination points to be paid.
Is comparing APRs the best way to decide which lender has the lowest rates and fees?

The Federal Truth in Lending law requires that all financial institutions disclose the APR when they advertise a rate. The APR is designed to present the actual cost of obtaining financing, by requiring that some, but not all, closing fees are included in the APR calculation. These fees in addition to the interest rate determine the estimated cost of financing over the full term of the loan. Since most people do not keep the mortgage for the entire loan term, it may be misleading to spread the effect of some of these up front costs over the entire loan term.

Also, unfortunately, the APR doesn't include all the closing fees and lenders are allowed to interpret which fees they include. Fees for things like appraisals, title work, and document preparation are not included even though you'll probably have to pay them.

For adjustable rate mortgages, the APR can be even more confusing. Since no one knows exactly what market conditions will be in the future, assumptions must be made regarding future rate adjustments.

You can use the APR as a guideline to shop for loans but you should not depend solely on the APR in choosing the loan program that's best for you. Look at total fees, possible rate adjustments in the future if you're comparing adjustable rate mortgages, and consider the length of time that you plan on having the mortgage.

Don't forget that the APR is an effective interest rate--not the actual interest rate. Your monthly payments will be based on the actual interest rate, the amount you borrow, and the term of your loan.

How do I know if it's best to lock in my interest rate or to let it float?

Mortgage interest rate movements are as hard to predict as the stock market and no one can really know for certain whether they'll go up or down.

If you have a hunch that rates are on an upward trend then you'll want to consider locking the rate as soon as you are able. Before you decide to lock, make sure that your loan can close within the lock-in period. It won't do any good to lock your rate if you can't close during the rate lock period. If you're purchasing a home, review your contract for the estimated closing date to help you choose the right rate lock period. If you are refinancing, in most cases, your loan could close within 30 days. However, if you have any secondary financing on the home that won't be paid off, allow some extra time since we'll need to contact that lender to get their permission.

If you think rates might drop while your loan is being processed, take a risk and let your rate "float" instead of locking. After you apply, you can lock in by contacting your Loan Officer by telephone.

How much money will I save by choosing a 15-year loan rather than a 30-year loan?

A 15-year fixed rate mortgage gives you the ability to own your home free and clear in 15 years. And, while the monthly payments are somewhat higher than a 30-year loan, the interest rate on the 15-year mortgage is usually a little lower, and more important - you'll pay less than half the total interest cost of the traditional 30-year mortgage.

However, if you can't afford the higher monthly payment of a 15-year mortgage don't feel alone. Many borrowers find the higher payment out of reach and choose a 30-year mortgage. It still makes sense to use a 30-year mortgage for most people.

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Are there any prepayment penalties charged for these loan programs?
None of the loan programs we offer have penalties for prepayment. You can pay off your mortgage any time with no additional charges.
What is your Rate Lock Policy?

General Statement

The interest rate market is subject to movements without advance notice. Locking in a rate protects you from the time that your lock is confirmed to the day that your lock period expires.

Lock-In Agreement

A lock is an agreement by the borrower and the lender and specifies the number of days for which a loan’s interest rate and origination points are guaranteed. Should interest rates rise during that period, we are obligated to honor the committed rate. Should interest rates fall during that period, the borrower must honor the lock.

When Can I Lock?

On-line rate locks are not available. A loan officer can discuss rate lock options with you.


We do not charge a fee for locking in your interest rate.

Lock Period

On-line rate locks are not available. A loan officer can discuss rate lock options with you.

Lock Confirmation

On-line rate locks are not available. A loan officer can discuss rate lock options with you.

Lock Changes

Once we accept your lock, your loan is committed into a secondary market transaction. Therefore, we are not able to renegotiate lock commitments.

Tell me more about closing fees and how they are determined.
A home loan often involves many fees, such as the appraisal fee, title charges, closing fees, and state or local taxes. These fees vary from state to state and also from lender to lender. Any lender or broker should be able to give you an estimate of their fees, but it is more difficult to tell which lenders have done their homework and are providing a complete and accurate estimate. We take quotes very seriously. We've completed the research necessary to make sure that our fee quotes are accurate to the city level - and that is no easy task! Continue Reading
What is title insurance and why do I need it?

If you've ever purchased a home before, you may already be familiar with the benefits and terms of title insurance. But if this is your first home loan or you are refinancing, you may be wondering why you need another insurance policy.

The answer is simple: The purchase of a home is most likely one of the most expensive and important purchases you will ever make. You, and especially your mortgage lender, want to make sure the property is indeed yours: That no individual or government entity has any right, lien, claim, or encumbrance on your property.

The function of a title insurance company is to make sure your rights and interests to the property are clear, that transfer of title takes place efficiently and correctly, and that your interests as a homebuyer are fully protected.

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What is mortgage insurance and when is it required?
First of all, let's make sure that we mean the same thing when we discuss "mortgage insurance." Mortgage insurance should not be confused with mortgage life insurance, which is designed to pay off a mortgage in the event of a borrower's death. Mortgage insurance makes it possible for you to buy a home with less than a 20% down payment by protecting the lender against the additional risk associated with low down payment lending. Low down payment mortgages are becoming more and more popular, and by purchasing mortgage insurance, lenders are comfortable with down payments as low as 3 - 5% of the home's value. It also provides you with the ability to buy a more expensive home than might be possible if a 20% down payment were required.

The mortgage insurance premium is based on loan to value ratio, type of loan, and amount of coverage required by the lender. Usually, the premium is included in your monthly payment and one to two months of the premium is collected as a required advance at closing.

It may be possible to cancel private mortgage insurance at some point, such as when your loan balance is reduced to a certain amount - below 75% to 80% of the property value. Recent Federal Legislation requires automatic termination of mortgage insurance for many borrowers when their loan balance has been amortized down to 78% of the original property value. If you have any questions about when your mortgage insurance could be cancelled, please contact your Loan Officer.
What is the maximum percentage of my home's value that I can borrow?
The maximum percentage of your home's value depends on the purpose of your loan, how you use the property, and the loan type you choose, so the best way to determine what loan amount we can offer is to complete our online application!

Closing & Beyond

What happens at the loan closing?
The closing will take place at the office of a title company or attorney in your area who will act as our agent. If you are purchasing a new home, the seller may also be at the closing to transfer ownership to you, but in some states, these two events actually happen separately.

During the closing you will be reviewing and signing several loan papers. The closing agent or attorney conducting the closing should be able to answer any questions you have or you can feel free to contact your Loan Officer if you prefer.

Just to make sure there are no surprises at closing, your Loan Officer will contact you a few days before closing to review your final fees, loan amount, first payment date, etc. Continue Reading
Will I need to have an attorney represent me at closing?
In some areas of the country it is very customary, and sometimes required by law, to have an attorney represent you at the closing. In other areas, attorneys are not as common at a real estate closing. Please contact the closing agent if you have questions about attorney representation. By all means, we recommend that you have an attorney at the closing if it would make you more comfortable. If your attorney has any questions about your new mortgage, please refer them to your Loan Officer. We'd be happy to provide any information necessary.
Can I get advanced copies of the documents I will be signing at closing?
The most important documents you will sign at closing are the note and mortgage, sometimes called the deed of trust. Unless there are special circumstances, these documents are usually prepared one to two days before your closing. Other documents are prepared by the closing agent the day before or the day of your closing. If you would like copies of the completed documents to be sent to you after they are prepared, please contact your Loan Officer.
Who will be at the closing?
The closing agent acts as our agent and will represent us at the closing. However, your personal Loan Officer will contact you prior to closing to talk about your final documents and to provide a final breakdown of your closing fees. If you have any questions that the closing agent can't answer during the closing, ask them to contact your Loan Officer by phone and we'll get you the answers you need - before the closing is over!
I won't be able to attend the closing. What other options are there?
If you won't be able to attend the loan closing, contact your Loan Officer to discuss other options. If someone you trust is able to attend on your behalf, you can execute a Power of Attorney so that this person can sign documents on your behalf. In other cases, we're able to mail you the documents in advance so that you can sign them and forward them to the closing agent. We're sure to have a solution that will work in your circumstances.
If I apply, where will the closing take place?
We use a nationwide network of closing agents and attorneys to conduct our loan closings. We'll schedule your closing to take place in a location that is located near your home for your convenience.

We'll deliver our loan documents and wire transfer your loan funds to the closing agent or attorney prior to closing so that they'll have plenty of time to prepare for your closing.
Can I make my monthly payments with an automated debit from my checking account?

NMLS Numbers

What is my loan officer's NMLS Number?

As of Aug. 1, 2011, the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (SAFE Act) requires all mortgage loan originators of federally regulated lending institutions to register with the Nationwide Mortgage License System and Registry (NMLS Registry). All Southeast Financial mortgage loan officers are registered and have been assigned a unique identification number. This number will stay with them throughout their career.

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