choosing a mortgage lender

Does your mortgage lender pass the test? 4 ways to pick a good one

Bethany Ramos First-Time Homebuyer, Getting Prequalified, Home Buying, Industry Professionals, Loan Officers

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Updated Aug. 29, 2018.

You’re reading this on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, so you’ve already discovered the wonderful convenience of technology. Most prospective homebuyers are well-aware that they can “window shop” for houses online. But did you know you can also “window shop” online to find top mortgage lenders and make the right pick?

Technology is on your side: Here’s how to use it

If you want to buy a house, or sell and buy a new home, you’ll need a home loan to make it happen. Home loans are also called mortgages and come with their own unique terms, pricing, and rates. To get a good deal, it’s important to compare top mortgage lenders and all the services they offer so you can find a monthly payment you’ll be happy with.

Because of the ease of digital communication (and our current tech takeover), top mortgage lenders are investing in technology like never before. More technology means fewer errors and speedier transactions to offer a higher level of customer service. But interestingly, Fannie Mae reported based on a 2016 analysis of recent mortgage borrowers in their National Housing Survey® that homebuyers like you are still looking for a human connection.

Up to 35 percent of mortgage lenders are under the impression that talking to a real person is less important when getting a home loan, but borrowers disagree. A startling 90 percent of home loan borrowers still want phone or in-person communication when making an important investment like a mortgage.

Using technology to not only to buy a house, but to cross-check and compare mortgage lenders before you decide on a home loan, could lead to higher long-term satisfaction with your mortgage choice. But you also want to find a “real,” local lender who cares about helping you find the right house at the right price and can walk you through the process.

4 pro screening tips to make sure you’re working with the right lender

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You wouldn’t take medical advice from someone without medical training. And we wouldn’t expect you to settle for subpar advice about choosing a great mortgage lender. We’ve been in the mortgage business for a long time — over 30 years. Even after all this time, we’re still going strong.

We maintain a 100-percent commitment to on-time closings without compromising our Core Conviction: transforming individual lives through lending. Meaning, we want to get you home as much as you do and help you have a good time while doing it. We also offer more mortgage programs than many other lenders and utilize our investment in technology to give our borrowers the “icing on the cake” — including fast, secure online or app prequalifications; instant updates of real-time loan pricing; quick mortgage rate lock options; and an industry-leading underwriting goal of two business days.

From our decades spent helping people like you get into their dream homes, here’s what we’ve learned about choosing the right mortgage lender:

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1. Always shop around.

choosing a mortgage lender
You don’t have to take our word for it. The Federal Trade Commission agrees that it’s wise to obtain quotes on multiple mortgage loan programs. As you’re requesting rate quotes from the dozens of lenders available online, look out for the extras. Like a lender who offers a free app with quick, remote prequalifications that will tell you how much house you can afford and automatically send you your free credit report to help you understand your buying power.

Use our app to get prequalified for a loan, search for houses, and organize your loan docs, all in one place.

If needed, a good loan officer can also work with you to get your credit healthy. Higher credit often yields a lower monthly mortgage payment. Having a fair (versus a good) credit score could also tack on an extra $21,000 to a 30-year mortgage, a 2018 Zillow borrower analysis found.

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2. Check on their social media presence.

choosing a mortgage lender
The same way you’d Google-sleuth a new pediatrician for your kids or a new hairstylist, we encourage you to check out the social media presence of any mortgage lender you consider. Fannie Mae also highlights borrowers’ desire for a personal touch coupled with a need for online communication. Sixty-one percent of future borrowers want to chat with their loan officer over the phone, and 53 percent would prefer an in-person visit. Only 49 percent of borrowers would rather communicate online.

Get both of your needs met by seeking out a real, personable lender with a digital footprint. Read Facebook reviews. Look at what they’re talking about on Twitter and LinkedIn. See if a lender’s online presence is customer-focused (yet still personalized to the borrower) to make sure they’re a good match.

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3. Ask your realtor what they think.

choosing a mortgage lender
There’s a symbiotic relationship between lender, realtor, and client. If you come to us first to get prequalified, as we recommend you do since you’ll find out how much you can afford before you start the house-hunt, we can refer you to a realtor we’ve successfully worked with in the past.

You can also ask your realtor for a referral to a mortgage lender — or for their input on your top pick. As Freddie Mac noted in a realtor survey conducted in 2016, 84 percent of real estate agents have a preferred group of lenders they refer to their buyers. And at least 76 percent of buyers “always or often” use these mortgage lender referrals. Cross-checking referrals is one effective way to vet the lender you select.

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4. Look for a one-stop shop.

choosing a mortgage lender
The mortgage rates you’re quoted by different lenders matter, and the “extras” matter too. We suggest seeking out a mortgage lender that does it all in-house. Providing access to hundreds of loan products nationwide, as well as in-house processing, underwriting, and funding, means a lender can help you get to closing day on time.

Likewise, look out for a mortgage lender with a 100-percent commitment to on-time closings — as close as you’ll get to a guarantee in the ever-changing mortgage biz. Other features like first-time homebuyer and down payment assistance programs, extended mortgage rate locks for up to 270 days, direct lending without a mortgage middleman, constant communication and personalized attention to detail, and the option of 15-minute closings may not be the industry norm but are offered by a small selection of top mortgage lenders.**

These extras are prime examples of the personal touch almost all borrowers are looking for. And you can’t find them just anywhere. Ellie Mae’s annual Borrower Insights Survey for 2018 also confirms that while, understandably, 42 to 51 percent of borrowers in all age groups want to be able to shop for mortgage rates online, many borrowers want more. Up to 64 percent of borrowers define “digital mortgage” as the convenience of e-signing mortgage documents. Fifty percent expect to receive regular loan status updates. And 43 to 46 percent say a digitally-capable lender should offer online portal communication and electronic closing.

Have your mortgage your way

With the latest advancements in technology, you can have it all when it comes to your mortgage. So, start smart. Find a top lender who offers fast-track online mortgage prequalification — a feature Ellie Mae says up to 61 percent of borrowers are looking for.

Don’t stop there. Make your final decision by looking for a tech-savvy lender who also offers the human experience 90 percent of borrowers want. A lender who responds quickly, sends regular updates about your loan status, and communicates over the phone, in person, and online has the full package and is likely to win your trust. As the majority of borrowers say, this personal touch beats online convenience every time.

*During local business hours.

**Some closings may take longer than 15 minutes and not all loan products may qualify. Not a commitment to lend. Borrower must meet qualification criteria. Equal Housing Opportunity.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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