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Helpful Hints: Choosing a Mortgage Lender/Broker

Two keys areas for mortgage loans

 Mortgages aren't much different. There are plenty of lenders selling them, making a mortgage loan seem like a commodity item. But you can use this dizzying array of sellers to your advantage. Start your shopping by focusing on two key areas:

  1. Make sure a lender is reputable. Check out how long they've been in business, and make sure they don't have any complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

  2. Focus on closingcosts and rates. Ask lenders to detail closing costsand rates. Take time to scrutinize the differences across the board between lenders. 

  3. Using these two items as your focus, you can start shopping in the marketplace.

Types of mortgage lenders

Mortgage bankers: These organizations typically control the loan throughout the whole process, from underwriting to servicing to selling on the secondary market. The bigger the bank, the worse rates they provide, thanks to the volume game.

Mortgage brokers: Brokers sell the loans for lenders. These operate in similar fashion to mortgage bankers. They generally have the best rates and service.  Basically, they're the "storefront" in the loan distribution network. Ask friends and associates for referrals when looking for a broker, or search for one online.

Savings and Loans: These organizations use savings from private investors to provide mortgages. They are some of the largest providers of home mortgages in the country.

Credit unions: These operate in similar fashion to mortgage brokers. Because they're member-owned, they generally give good rates and service.

Seller-financed: A seller of property can provide financing to a buyer. Be careful with these types of arrangements, and make sure a lawyer reviews all documents.

You'll find that rates across the board are relatively comparable, because they're priced in relation to interest rates set by the Federal Reserve Board. None of this really matters to you, the consumer. All you really need to be concerned with is the rate and the closing costs.