Smart buyers get the best possible mortgage for their new home. But that is a process that starts early and requires you to ask the right questions in the right way and at the right time. So when you are first thinking of potential lenders, here is exactly what you should say on the phone to each of them to get the best possible results.
#1. How long have you been working in your field? On average, how many loans to do process per month?
Experience matters (to a point). Look for someone with at least a few years experience, though beyond 5 years, more isn’t necessarily better. The big exception is if you happen to have a really complex financial history, in which case someone who’s been in the business longer may know of more “work-arounds” you can consider.
#2. Do you specialize in a size or type of loan?
You want someone who is familiar with what you feel you need. If you already know you will likely need a large (or “jumbo”) loan, say above $400,000, or a VA Loan, you will want someone who understands the intricacies of that type of loans (and can customize accordingly). Don’t contact lenders without being at least vaguely familiar with mortgage options in general, otherwise you may get pushed towards the types of mortgages a lender happens to offer, not those that make the most sense for you.
#3. Can you help me understand how you will get paid if we work together?
This one is a biggie. You want a transparent and straightforward answer to this question. If you are talking to a correspondent lender or a mortgage broker, and they say “The lender pays me, not you,” you should politely reply that in that case it would only be logical that the bank’s fees would be baked into the mortgage itself, either through higher interest rates, origination fees or yield spread premiums. And those are the fees you would love some clarity on. If you are talking directly to a bank, believe it or not, the question is still valid. Your bank will still likely charge you an origination fee, and in this case you should ask to have it “broken up” into its component parts (i.e. sometimes origination fees are made of up several fees, like a “doc prep fee” or “courier fees”). You’ll want to know exactly what goes into that fee and why.
#4. How available will you be to me during this process if we work together? Can I contact you directly going forward?
Great service matters. Look for someone who will make themselves available to you as much as is reasonable. It is also helpful to all parties when expectations of communication are discussed at the beginning of the process.
If you need a referral to one of the many great loan officers in our area, please don’t hesitate to contact me!