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Home Buying 101: What to Look for in a Mortgage Lender


If you're planning on financing the purchase of a home, the first step in the home buying process is to talk to a mortgage lender. But finding the right lender with the best loan programs isn't as simple as opening up the phone book. Here are three important factors to consider:

  1. Reputation and Customer Service- Perhaps the easiest way to find a lender is to ask people you know who have recently purchased or refinanced a home. They can refer you to individuals with whom they've had a good experience, and steer you away from those they have not. If you already have a few loan officers in mind, contact them and ask to be pre-qualified. Take note of their attitude, attentiveness, response time and familiarity with different loan programs. A mortgage loan officer or broker who exhibits good customer service is one you're more likely to maintain a relationship with going forward and who can inform and assist you when it's time to refinance.
  2. Experience- When comparing loan officers or brokers, look at both the amount of time they've been in business and the number of loans they've closed. Make certain they are licensed in the state where you are looking to purchase. Use to verify employment history and licensing.
  3. Access to various types of loan programs- There are three types of lenders:
    1. Direct Lenders- these are banks, mortgage banks or financial institutions who lend their own money. Loan officers who work for direct lenders can only offer you access to loans from their institution, but because they underwrite the loans in-house, may have quicker turnarounds and more control over the approval process.
    2. Brokers- brokers don't actually lend money. Instead, they shop your loan to direct lenders until they find funding. The underwriting and approval of the loan is done by the lender, which means the broker has no control over the process.
    3. Correspondent Lenders- a mix between lenders and brokers, correspondent lenders can either fund your mortgage themselves or shop your loan to a direct lender. Even if they fund your loan through another lender, they complete the underwriting and approval process in-house, giving you the flexibility of a broker and the speed and control of lender.
Ultimately, the individual you choose should offer you the best customer service, most competitive rates, and lowest fees. But most importantly, they'll get the deal done. At the end of the day, a lender you trust to come through at closing is a lender worth your business.
Here are three outstanding lenders that we trust to serve our clients:
Quicken Home Loans
Eric King
Atlantic Coast Mortgage
Kristi Hardy
First Home Mortgage
Mike Farrell


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