How to find a bank you’ll love forever
Buying a house is likely to be the biggest financial commitment you'll ever make, so it pays to check out who you're jumping into bed with.
Don't be seduced by flashy offers of cash and low interest rates alone; take the time to look at what else you can get out of a relationship with a potential lender.
Although you're likely to be on edge about convincing a bank to lend you hundreds of thousands of dollars, remember that if you have all your ducks in a row, you will be an attractive proposition to the bank.
Banks need to convince you they will be good to deal with, as much as you need to convince them you're a good bet.
The first step in working out if you can form a lasting relationship with a lender is seeing if you have compatible communication styles.
If you want to meet someone face-to-face, then make sure the bank or lender you're dealing with is happy to do so. Likewise if you'd prefer to sort things out over the phone, find someone who will ring you (and at a time that suits you).
If you work shifts, see if the lender has representatives who also work nonstandard hours. The same applies if you want to use a broker - not all lenders are happy to work with a middle man.
If a lender isn't willing to communicate in a way that suits you, then find someone else who is.
Next, look beyond the short term. Try to think about how your circumstances might have changed when a fixed term loan is due to come up for renewal, and whether a provider is still likely to meet your requirements at that time.
Vince Clark, head of home lending and term deposits at ASB, suggests examining whether the lender has a broad range of mortgage products and types that suit not just your current needs, but those you're likely to have in the future too.
It's also worth thinking about whether a lender's broader banking products and services will suit you. Can they offer you insurance, credit cards and other services?
Often the more business you do with a bank alongside your mortgage, the better deal you will get, Clark says. "Ask yourself, what's the wider value proposition?"
The kind of lender you choose will depend on your needs.
First time buyers often need a little more handholding to work their way through the mountain of jargon and unfamiliar products.
"The first time home buying experience can be pretty scary so you're really looking for someone who can guide you through the process," Clark says.
At the other end of the scale, if you're an investor who's been there and done that a few times before, you're more likely to want access to staff with specialist property investment experience.
ASB offers its customers a convenient alternative if these specialists are not available at the time they visit the branch. The video phone service, set up at all ASB branches, connects customers 'face-to-face' with a lending expert from another location.
Or you might be comfortable to eschew face-to-face meetings in favour of working entirely via email or the phone.
"Your provider should be available to you through whatever channel you want. They should provide the level of experience and support you need and have a range of options depending on the complexity of your needs," Clark says.
He suggests you do a bit of research before approaching any lenders - even if it's just half an hour online checking out what rates and terms banks are offering.
"Do your homework, understand what your needs are, understand what the offers are in the marketplace, and then you can have a pretty powerful conversation with a prospective lender," Clark says.