How to Choose a Mortgage Lender
by Shawn Carvin, Senior Mortgage Banker
Buying a home is, by far, one of the most important financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. Not to be taken lightly, the choice of who you borrow funds from to purchase a home is equally crucial. Interest rates are important, but should not, necessarily, be the final determining factor in choosing your lender.
Likewise, using the institution where you do all of your local banking or even the name brand advertised on TV every few minutes may not be the best choice you can make. Here are 3 steps to take when you begin searching for a mortgage lender.
1. Ask the right questions.
Questions about rates, points, and fees are important, but asking for more detailed information will be beneficial. For example, ask the lender to describe available loans. Do they answer in a knowledgeable way and in terms you understand?
Ask for references. Any reputable and experienced mortgage lender will have plenty of satisfied customer testimonials to share with other prospective clients. Finding someone trustworthy and reliable is the most important factor when it comes to choosing a lender.
Here are some other examples of questions you may want to ask potential mortgage lenders:
- Can you fund the loan in time for my closing?
- Please estimate and explain your fees.
- Can you provide me with the closing disclosure statements for the last few mortgages you closed?
- When can I expect to see a good faith estimate?
2. Get referrals from friends and business associates.
One of the best ways to find a suitable lender is upon the advice of trusted acquaintances. Family members, co-workers, real estate agents, and financial advisors are usually good resources. Client testimonials are great, but they make an even bigger impact coming from people you know to be credible.
3. Interview potential lenders.
From the research you’ve done, narrow the list down to a few strong candidates. Next, conduct phone interviews. Face-to-face interviews aren’t always possible, as your lender may not be in close proximity — and that’s perfectly fine. The bank right around the corner isn’t always your best bet.
However, it is important to talk with the loan officer who will be helping you. This will tell you a great deal about the way they will work with you over the month or so it takes to close your home loan. Personality styles can make a difference, but more importantly, you’ll want to choose someone who is experienced, organized, responsible, and determined to help you meet your home ownership goals.
Remember that you choose your lender, they don’t choose you. You are the customer, and your lender should work hard for you. Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that you will need to cooperate and work closely with them to supply necessary documents and information upon their request. You, your real estate agent, and your lender are all part of a team working to get you into your new home. Because each of them will be representing you and your interests, choose wisely!