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Costco offers home mortgages

A customer pushes his shopping cart through a Costco store in San Francisco, Calif. Costco hopes getting a mortgage through the big box retailer will bring more customers into the store for the things they'll need to furnish those homes.

Jon Alexander, the director of the Costco Mortgage services program, says describing Costco as a mortgage seller is a misnomer. The better term would be mortgage marketer. "We literally market the service through Costco," says Alexander. "So Costco is literally the marketing arm."

Costco partnered with First Choice Loan Services and several other banks to offer mortgages to its members. According to Alexander, they serve 10,000 to 30,000 members a month. One of the benefits of getting your mortgage from Costco is that they vet the lenders for the consumer.

"I went out and selected the lenders to participate in the program," Alexander says. "They guarantee service levels as well as competitive rates and lower fees."

Those lower fees are great for consumers. And for Costco, it means more customers furnishing those homes. But Barry Zigas, director of housing policy at Consumer Federation of America, says you should still shop around for the best deal.

"The big advice I would give to consumers regardless of where they are shopping is to look for alternatives," says Zigas. "Compare prices and don’t rush into it. This is like any other consumer product."

And like any other consumer product, what happens if you get home and your mortgage isn’t working out for you? What’s Costco’s mortgage return policy?

"Well, there’s not necessarily a return policy once the loan is closed," Alexander says. "But one of the things they are guaranteed is there is a support line."

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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