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Academy Bank Mortgage Review 2020

Editor’s note: The overall conclusions, recommendations and opinions are the author’s alone. The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.

Established in 1966, Academy Bank is a privately held bank. It prides itself on being an accessible community bank with mobile banking options and branch locations inside Walmart stores.

Academy Bank’s parent company, Dickinson Financial Corporation, is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. The parent company has $1 billion in assets.

Working with Academy Bank

Academy Bank has branches in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona. It also has a sister bank called Armed Forces Bank, which serves active and retired members of the military, as well as civilians, in all 50 states and overseas. Academy Bank itself has 82 branch locations in the four states it serves.

Academy Bank offers online and mobile banking tools, and many of its branches are open six days a week. They’re also located inside many Walmart stores, where the locations offer extended evening and weekend hours.

Academy Bank borrowing requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Academy Bank does not list credit score minimums for mortgages on its website.
  • Minimum down payment: Academy Bank offers VA loans with 0% down for qualified military members and veterans. It also has a 3% down payment program for qualified buyers looking for conventional loans.
  • Manual underwriting: Academy Bank uses an automated underwriting process. It does not advertise manual underwriting.

Academy Bank mortgage products

Purchase

Conventional mortgage. Academy Bank offers conventional loans including an option that allows for down payments as low as 3%. Borrowers will need good or excellent credit to qualify for a conventional loan through Academy Bank. It offers 15-year and 30-year loans, with both fixed and adjustable rate mortgages (ARM). Interest rates on adjustable rate mortgages may fluctuate after a set period of time. Academy Bank advertises 5/1 ARMs and 7/1 ARMs, which means the rates fluctuate after a period of five or seven years respectively.

FHA loans. The FHA mortgage is often called a first-time homebuyers mortgage because it lets borrowers with less-than-perfect credit and limited cash buy a house with as little as 3.5% down.

VA loans. Academy Bank offers VA loans, as does its sister bank, Armed Forces Bank.

Jumbo mortgages. Borrowers may qualify for a jumbo mortgage up to $3 million dollars, at either a fixed or adjustable rate. To qualify for a jumbo loan, borrowers will need excellent income, credit scores and certain asset levels – standards that will most likely be higher than for a conventional loan.

Academy Bank does not advertise USDA loans, construction loans or FHA 203(k) loans on its website.

Refinance

Conventional refinance. Academy Bank advertises 15- and 30-year loans with fixed rates, and 5/1 and 7/1 ARMs.

FHA refinance. Academy Bank offers a refinance option for FHA loans.

FHA cash-out refinance. Academy Bank advertises a cash-out option at its website.

VA rate-term refinance. This refinance lets borrowers either refinance a conventional mortgage to a VA mortgage or take cash out of a property when refinancing.

VA interest rate reduction refinance loan (IRRRL). Academy Bank offers this VA refinancing option – often referred to as a “streamline” loan – because it speeds up the refinancing process. The IRRRL does not require a credit check or home appraisal. With an IRRRL, you also have the option of extending your current loan term by as much as ten years.

Jumbo refinance. Refinance up to $3 million at either a fixed or adjustable rate.

Jumbo cash-out refinance. Cash-out options with loan limits up to $3 million.

Home equity loans

HELOC. Academy Bank offers a home equity line of credit (HELOC) that currently allows homeowners to borrow up to 65% of their home’s value on a revolving line of credit. The line of credit is established for a 10-year draw period, which means you can borrow from it for up to 10 years. Academy Bank advertises an introductory rate offer of 1.99% for the first six months, and a rate of 4.74% after six months. This rate is adjustable, so it may go up over time.

Academy Bank does not advertise other home equity loan products.

Academy Bank special mortgage programs

Hero Loan Program. This is a proprietary loan program that serves first-responders. It offers zero-down payment options to qualified first-responders including police, firefighters, paramedics, nurses, EMS, as well as members of the FBI and the ATF, or the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The mortgage application process

  • How to apply. Borrowers are advised to fill out a detailed online application. Once that is complete, a loan advisor typically reaches out to understand more about your personal situation. Loan advisors also help applicants get preapproved to borrow from Academy Bank, and preapproved borrowers can get personalized preapproval letters to strengthen their offers when shopping for homes.
  • Disclosure process. When you have an offer on a home, you can start the disclosure process. This means you’ll be asked to provide verification documents for the bank’s automated underwriting service. It also means you’ll need to pay an application deposit to cover appraisal costs and the costs of a hard credit pull. Academy Bank sends all borrowers an application kit with papers to sign and a list of other items or documents it will need.
  • Submitting loan for approval. Academy Bank orders the appraisal on behalf of borrowers; once the home appraisal is complete, the loan can be submitted. Academy Bank also works with a title company to ensure the appropriate title insurance is in place.
  • Final approval. After borrowers submit all necessary documents – and the appraisal is complete – Academy Bank generally uses its automated underwriting process to approve and underwrite the mortgage.
  • Closing. Academy Bank will schedule the closing with you at your home or at a title company. While your loan advisor won’t be at the closing, they will call you in advance to ensure everything is set.

Communication during the process

During the loan process, borrowers primarily work with loan advisors. Loan advisors are Academy Bank employees who specialize in mortgage lending. They provide guidance and information to borrowers who need assistance throughout the lending process. Loan advisors continue to be the point of contact until closing when a title company or an attorney acts on behalf of Academy Bank.

Pros and cons of an Academy Bank mortgage

Pros

  • Hero Loan Program. Academy Bank’s special loan program offers zero-down payment mortgages for first responders like police officers, firefighters, paramedics and nurses.
  • Low and zero-down payment options. Besides offering zero-down VA loans and Hero loans, Academy Bank offers 3% down conventional loans and 3.5% down FHA loans.
  • Single primary point of contact. Loan advisors provide guidance throughout the entire loan application process, so you won’t get lost in the shuffle.

Cons

  • Limited branch locations. Academy Bank has branches only in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Arizona.
  • Limited home equity products. Academy Bank doesn’t appear to offer home equity loans or reverse mortgages.
 

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