What Questions To Ask When Shopping For A Loan Officer

Having a good loan officer on your side can make all the difference when you are shopping for a loan — be it for your first home purchase, for refinancing an existing mortgage, or for getting a home equity loan. A loan officer (sometimes called a loan specialist, mortgage consultant, or loan representative) can be very useful in helping you to understand the different loan products on the market and in helping you apply for a loan that suits your particular needs.

Find An Experienced Loan Officer
Not all loan officers are created equal. Some are in the business to make money and have little experience – you want to stay away from these inexperienced newbees – especially in these times when qualifying and getting a loan is much more difficult than it used to be just a few years ago. Seasoned experienced loan officers who are in this business as a career and know what they are doing can go a long way to saving you from a nightmare experience and a nightmare loan program.

How Will You Help Me Get The Right Mortgage?
So, how do you find the right person to help you in these matters? Here is a list of basic questions you can ask to help you determine who you pick to assist you.

Is there a particular type of loan product in which you specialize?
How will you go about assisting me in finding a home loan that will best meet my financial situation?
Are there any other real-estate professionals — such as agents or closing attorneys — with whom you work, or whom you would recommend I get in touch with?

What Are Your Mortgage Qualifications?
Because of the cyclical nature of the mortgage and real estate business, loan officers come and go. Many states in the U.S. do not require loan officers to be licensed to be able offer different loan programs. Although this is changing, the mortgage industry has a long way to go to catch up to insurance agents, real estate agents, and attorneys. All of these professions need licenses. With this in mind, the length of time someone has spent working in the business might not be the primary indication of the loan officer’s abilities you do want to ask a few of these questions to help you decide if they know enough to help you:

What training do you have in this field?
What other background or experience do you have that is specifically relevant to working as a loan officer?
Is there another area of expertise or piece of background information you have (such as work in another financial-world application) that gives you unique insight?

How Available Will You Be – How Will We Communicate?
As anyone who has been in any sort of relationship knows all too well, communication is key. In working with a loan officer, it is important to state from the beginning what your expectations are as to what the person’s availability and responsibilities will be in this regard. You want to find out how they will communicate with you and when. These questions can help to do so:

How often should I expect to get updates on my loan’s status from you or your office?
What are your normal hours of operation?
In the event that I need to reach you during off-hours, is it okay to contact you? Is there a different phone number or email address to use for such situations?
Do you have any upcoming business-travel or vacation plans I should know about? Is there any other reason you can foresee not being available between now and the time my loan closes?
Will you be responsible for staying in touch with any involved agents and parties who are involved in this transaction?

It’s important to pay attention not only to what answers the candidate gives, but to how he or she answers. Is he or she patient and making sure you understand all of the answers? Do you feel comfortable with this person? Compatibility is key, so make sure to trust your instincts above all else.
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