Find the perfect mortgage expert: 5 things to look for
Buying a new home is one of life’s biggest and most important decisions. Not only is it important that you find the right mortgage product to suit your specific needs, you also want the right person to guide you through the process. As you shop for a home loan that features a low rate and full transparency, you should also shop for a loan officer (LO) who demonstrates high aptitude and full accountability.
Below are the five qualities to look for during your preliminary research and conversations with new LOs:
If the LO is intent on controlling the conversation, seeking to establish your income and debt off the bat instead of answering your questions, leave him or her talking to a dial tone. A good LO listens first—understanding your needs and establishing a rapport—before getting into the loan details. Further, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as it takes for you to understand a given concept. If there is any hint of disdain, dismissiveness, or condescension, move on with your search. If your questions are answered affably and thoroughly, you might have a keeper.
Do you trust your wedding-day hairdo to a manicurist? Do you let a buddy’s nephew remodel your kitchen or work on your car because he’s ‘good with his hands’? If the answer to these questions is a firm ‘No’, then apply the same logic to buying a home. You need to know how much the LO knows, because buying a home is a complex transaction. If you perceive pauses and stall tactics over the phone after you ask questions, it’s probably a quick Google search that’s providing you answers instead of the person you’re talking to. Each of your questions should be answered with confidence and clarity, and without hesitation.
The most frequent source of customer frustration during the home loan process can be summarized in two words: Going Dark. Unanswered emails and ignored phone calls inevitably sour the relationship, making what can be an already strenuous process downright miserable. An LO who works with a proactive support system of trained professionals spends less time attending to administrative duties and more time helping customers, a luxury that independent LOs don’t have. The essential principle behind Guaranteed Rate’s POD model is to allow the LO to accommodate the customer with the most important commodity in any industry: Time.
In the mortgage industry, referrals are everything. If a close friend or family member makes a strong recommendation, you can probably feel good about retaining that person as your home loan expert. If your referral comes from a stranger at a cocktail party who gives you unprompted advice on how to organize a covert militia in the hills of Appalachia, you may want to take it with a few healthy grains of salt. Further, if your initial conversation with a prospective LO goes well and you get a good feeling from the dialogue, follow up with an online search to see what other people have to say about performance and personality. If the internet is packed with negative testimonials, you should probably keep the search going.
A good LO is not just an industry expert who provides knowledge and insight, but is also an advocate who will support, guide and encourage you every step of the way. For many people, securing a home loan inevitably creates feelings of uncertainty and vulnerability: It is an evaluative process requiring the submission of personal financial information to strangers, who in turn have the power to affect your life based on that information. An LO who is affable and endlessly positive makes a potentially stressful experience more bearable. During the initial dialogue, listen for reassuring language and a carefree, conversational tone. More than anything, let your intuition tell you if you’re making a new friend or merely enhancing someone’s stat line.
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