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Mann Mortgage receives two more workplace and mortgage awards

Mann Mortgage announced today they have been named the #1 Top Workplace in Montana for large companies by Lee Enterprises. This comes weeks after they were named one of the country’s Top Mortgage Lenders by Scotsman Guide.

These awards mark the fifth and sixth distinction for the company in 2021. Mann Mortgage was recently named a national Top Workplace of 2021 by Energage, one of the 10 Best Financial Lenders of 2021 by Industry Era, a Flathead Employer of Choice, and a Top Mortgage Workplace by Mortgage Professional America.

“I’m blown away by what our people at Mann Mortgage are able to accomplish. We’re helping thousands of people in our communities buy, build, and refinance homes – and we’re having fun doing it!” says Jason Mann, CEO of Mann Mortgage. “Our culture is all about working together to help more Americans own homes. Everyone at Mann is valued for their contribution towards our goal. And it’s really rewarding to keep being recognized for how well we’re doing it.”

Lee Enterprises offers a Top Workplace recognition for companies based in Montana. Of the 758 companies invited to participate, 21 were given an award. Winners were chosen based solely on employee feedback gathered through an anonymous engagement survey. The questions covered the company’s values, innovation, direction, meaningfulness, interdepartmental cooperation, and more. In addition to being ranked the #1 overall Top Workplace in Montana, Mann Mortgage won two additional distinctions for their values and direction.

Scotsman Guide annually ranks mortgage lenders across the country to identify those companies who were most successful at offering home mortgages, refinances, and other types of loans. This year, 100 companies made this year’s list of Top Mortgage Lenders, and Mann Mortgage is proud to have made the cut.

Mann Mortgage has 10 locations in Montana, branches spread across the country, and many remote work opportunities. See the current openings at

Answers to common construction loan questions

What’s unique about a construction loan?
It’s a short-term (usually 12 to 18 months) loan used for the materials and labor needed to construct a home. Sometimes, the funds are also used to purchase the lot the house will be built upon. The interest rate for a construction loan is typically around 1% higher than mortgage rates, but they are variable. So, the rate may change throughout the loan term.

How much down payment do I need?
Many lenders (and almost all banks) require 20%. They do this because, unlike a home loan, there is no way for them to recoup their losses (sell your home) if your loan goes into default. If you own your building lot outright, you can use it as equity towards your home’s construction loan.

Mann Mortgage can offer construction loans for much lower – under 5% for almost all the loan types for borrowers who meet requirements.

How do I know how much money I will need to build a house?
Start your planning by talking to your home lender to see how much you could be approved for. Then, work with a builder to find a home they can build that fits the price you and your home lender discussed. Once you have a detailed building plan for your house, you’ll likely be asked to send it and your builder’s details to your home lender. Most lenders will review­­ your building plans and the land to make sure they appraise for more than your building cost before you are approved for your construction loan.

Can I do some construction work myself to save money on my build?
No, you can’t complete any work on your own as a DIY project. Doing so many lower your home’s appraised value, your work may not meet building standards, and your home may not pass final inspection to receive your certificate of occupancy. Even if you’re a construction professional, you cannot work on your own home’s construction.

What’s the difference between a one-time and two-time close?
A one-time close means you get approved to finance both construction and mortgage for your new home at the same time. After construction is complete, your loan automatically becomes a traditional mortgage. There is one loan and one closing.

A two-time close means you get two loans. The first loan will fund your construction. You will apply for the loan, get approved for it, and close on this loan. Then building begins. At some point as construction nears completion, you will apply for a refinance to turn your construction loan into a 15 or 30-year mortgage. When the refinance is approved, you will close on this loan, and you will now have a mortgage. There are two loans and two closings.

When does the loan interest rate lock?
Locking in your rate means your lender has agreed to give you a specific mortgage rate if the loan is closed within a set length of time. Most lenders lock the rate 30 to 60 days before closing. For a one-time close you would lock the rate for construction and later for the final mortgage. Your file may be reviewed for float down – meaning you would have the option to lock in a lower rate if it has dropped during the lock period. For a two-time close your rate will lock for each loan. Once for the construction loan (and it’s usually one percentage point higher than a mortgage) and once when it is refinanced into a 15- or 30-year mortgage.

How is my builder paid?
Lenders use what’s called a draw schedule. It’s a plan that details how you will send payments to your builder during construction. A builder gets paid as work is done, not in one lump sum. Your lender releases funds slowly as each project milestone is complete. As example, after the foundation is complete or after the framing is done. This minimizes your losses and your lenders losses in the case your builder is dishonest or if they go out of business during the months you’re building.

Working with a local home lender for your construction loan is a wise decision. Local lenders, like Mann Mortgage, know your community and have experience doing construction loans in your neighborhood. They’re also able to recommend a builder for you to work with.

The difference between a 30 and 15-year fixed mortgage

A mortgage term is how long it will take you to repay the loan in full. There are a few term options, but most common are 15 or 30-year terms.

Both mortgage options are fixed rate meaning the interest rate and monthly payment is set when the loan is taken. A fixed-rate makes it much easier for a borrower to budget since they know exactly how much the minimum payment is each month for years to come.  No matter what happens with interest-rates, the minimum payment won’t change.

30-year mortgages are by far the most popular mortgage product for American homebuyers – Freddie Mac says 90% of all loans are 30-year fixed. What makes them so appealing? Are there any benefits to a 15-year fixed?

30-year mortgage
Because the term of the loan is longer, there is a higher chance the borrower will default over time, so it’s a riskier option for lenders. But the payoff for borrowers is big – substantially lower monthly payments than a 15-year mortgage.

A lower monthly payment makes homeownership a possibility for more Americans and it may allow some people to purchase more home than they’d be able to with a 15-year fixed. Even borrowers who could afford to make larger payments may choose a 30-year fixed and re-invested or put away the money they’re saving to further their financial stability.

The catch? You’ll save money each month, but you’ll be paying your mortgage for longer. And, in the end, you’ll end up paying much more in interest than you would with a 15-year loan for the same house.

15-year mortgage
Lower monthly payments sound great, so why would anyone get a shorter loan term? Borrowers often choose a 15-year loan because they pay off the loan much faster and with less interest overall. Take the example below.

$275,000 Mortgage
 APRMonthly paymentTotal interest paid
15-year fixed2.529%$1,837$55,737
30-year fixed2.948%$1,152$139,617

The monthly payments are nearly $700 more per month, but over the course of the loan, the borrower saved $83,880. If you can afford a bigger payment, looking into a 15-year fixed mortgage may be a good idea.

Because there’s less time for the loan to be exposed to risk, interest rates for 15-year mortgages are usually lower than that of 30-year fixed. The rate can be around a quarter to a whole percentage point less.

How about something in-between?
If you like the lower payments of the 30-year mortgage but the faster payoff of the 15-year mortgage, consider getting something in between like a 20-year mortgage. There are a lot of different options when it comes to home loans. It’s best to speak with a local loan expert to see what would work best for you and what your payments would be like with each option. Together, you can find the best path forward for your financial goals.

What’s a barndominium?

A Barndominium a trendy new type of home that’s gaining popularity. They’re usually defined as an energy-efficient low maintenance metal building you can live in. Think of a warehouse or metal barn with the inside transformed into living quarters. That’s a barndominium. Sometimes they have an attached shop, horse stable, or garage. Sometimes not. The exterior gives homeowners a sleek farmhouse look while the interior can be any style possible.

People love the barndominium because they offer a lot of advantages over traditional stick-built homes:

  • Cheaper and quicker to build
  • Open concept floor plans
  • Energy-efficient metal roof
  • Low-maintenance metal exterior
  • High vaulted ceilings
  • Option for an attached shop

How much does a barndominium cost?
Like anything real-estate related, costs vary based on location and material costs. However, for a rough comparison, a standard house is between $100 to $200 a square foot and luxury and custom homes ran closer to $200 to $500 a square foot to build in the United States in 2020.

Barndominiums “shells” – the exterior walls and roof – are significantly less expensive than those of stick-built houses. Often they’re available as kits which are constructed upon a rectangular concrete slab. Costs range from $70 to $95 a square foot for a more DIY builds and more for ones built by a licensed builder.

How to finance construction for one
There are two ways to build a barndominium – and whether you’ll get financing depends on how you build it.

Option one is to hire a builder to assemble and complete your barndominium. To finance this, you’ll need a short-term construction loan financed through most home loan lenders. Once your home is built (or if you buy an already built one) you’ll need to apply for a traditional mortgage.

Option two is to built it yourself. Most home lenders won’t finance DIY construction. However, some companies that manufacture barndominium shells will offer their own financing. These shells contain the frame, exterior doors, windows, and roof. Beyond that, you will have to finance the additional items needed to complete your home such as electricity, plumbing, walls, flooring, insulation, etc.

Regardless of how you finance your build, be sure to check your land’s zoning and covenant requirements. It’s fairly common for subdivisions to have restrictions on sheds, garages, or other metal structures (which might include your barndominium). And make sure your barndominium will fit on your lot too. Barndominiums are typically larger than other structures, so you’ll want to double-check your home won’t be larger than allowed and will fit on the land you selected.

Do barndominiums hold their value?
So far, those that have sold recently seem to keep their value. They’re growing more popular across the U.S., and you can even find them listed under their own filter on Zillow. Beware, though, that one of the things that makes them appealing is their distinctive design. But it also may make them harder to sell since they’re too unconventional.

When you’re ready to crunch the numbers to see whether a barndominium would be a better option than a stick-built home, contact your local Man Mortgage home lender. They can help you decide whether you’d qualify for a construction loan or if it might be a wiser choice to get a stick-built home.

Top interior design styles

How can you recognize some of today’s popular interior design styles? It’s probably not possible for someone to redo their entire home to fit the style, but you can always be inspired by these trends. Once you know a style you like, it’s easy to work with what you already have or buy a few accent pieces to freshen your room’s look.

This style is very popular in cities where old factories have been converted into living spaces or restaurants. It works great if you have huge windows, exposed ductwork and brick, and concrete or rustic wood flooring. Repurposing items as furniture is a big part of industrial-style. Think of using metal piping for table legs, rustic wood for table tops, old machinery parts for decorations, and repurposed industrial lighting fixtures. To make the spaces a little more comfortable, leather chairs, sheepskin floor rugs, and neutral-colored furniture are added.
DIY industrial style designs  

To decorate in a modern style, stick with sharp edges and smooth surfaces. If your space has ceiling beams, concrete, or brick those elements should be exposed. Remove your window curtains so that natural light and the outdoor scenery shines through. Materials are natural – wood, metal, leather, wool, and linen. And, it’s important to keep the color pallet neutral colors.
20 stores that sell modern furniture

It’s the polar opposite of minimalism. It’s been described as a rainbow of color, texture, and styles. Put your antique armchair by your new favorite sofa. Add toss pillows made from your great grandmother’s hand embroidered pillowcases. Hang your wedding photo next to a series of paintings you got on vacation. Put your collection of antique crystal decanters together on a shelf. This style is about showing off your objects and sharing the stories they tell about your life.  
See maximalist décor ideas

Unlike modern design, it’s a way of life more than just a style. To be fully minimalist, you’ll need to declutter and sell or donate anything you don’t use or need. It’s uncluttered, monochromatic, and simple way of living. It works great for open floorplans, lots of light, and well built furnishings. In a minimalist room, the decorations aren’t the focus. The focus may be on a beautiful view from the window, the people in the space, or the architecture. Nothing is added as an embellishment.
Steps for the beginner minimalist

It’s a combo of art deco and old Hollywood. It’s opulent and a little over the top. It’s full of textures that beg to be touched – faux furs, velvet, and knits. Shiny brass and gold accents sparkle. A glam room would have classic furniture, glass or marble topped tables, crystal decorations, velvet toss pillows, rich colors, and sheer curtains.
How to get a glam look in your home

This trend really took over while we were quarantined during Covid. It is about nostalgia, rural life, a slow pace, agriculture, with a splash of fairy-tale. It features traditional crafts like baking, gardening, knitting (all activities that became popular during quarantine). A cottagecore living room would have soft colored walls, nature-themed art, a few antique items, a hand-knit throw, potted plants, dried herbs in a basket, and a stack of books on an end table. You get extra cottagecore points if you display something you made yourself.
7 creative hobbies to take up this year

Housing market update: July 2021

Home prices are up nationwide with the median price of $374,400. Overall 769,000 houses were sold and 330,000 new homes are available (source). See below for more home and mortgage stats from May 2021.

How much does it cost to buy a house?
It’s getting very difficult to find any homes listed under $150,000, and in May, it was very difficult (but not impossible) to even find a home under $199,000. Home prices vary greatly by region, but nationally, home prices since last May have increased (17.95%).


How long are houses staying on the market?
May 2021 had an average of 16 days on the market (down 58% in since May of 2020). If we figure each house spends 10-ish days in inspection, appraisal, and completing contingencies – that means a house was on the market an average of six days before it moved to pending.

The number of days between when a home was listed on the market until the seller signed a contract for the sale of the property.

How long it takes to close a home loan
If we just look at purchase loans, it took Mann Mortgage an average of 43 days to close a loan. That’s 10 days faster than the national average of 53. Overall, in the past year, loans are taking longer to close this past May than they did in May 2020.

This is the time it takes from the loan application to its funding.

Interest rate on a mortgage
It’s not as low as it was a few months ago, but interest rates continue to be historically low. Jun 1, 2021 saw an average of 2.88% on a 30-year fixed loan, which is still incredibly low.


Homes under construction
In May, 100,600 privately-owned housing unit permits were issued. That’s up from 67,500 in May 2020. One-unit houses are still the most popular with 5+ unit houses still representing a large portion of new builds.


If you have any questions about the market or wonder what your interest rate might be, reach out to your local Mann Mortgage lender. They can give you the scoop on your local market and what you can do to pay off your mortgage faster, reduce your interest rate, or find a new home for your next step in life.

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