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What It Takes To Be A Mortgage Expert

In the choppy seas of mortgage finance, you need someone who can navigate the ever changing product guidelines, interest rate environment, and understands your individual circumstance. These professional mortgage originators are worth their weight in gold. Most people enter the maze of mortgages every five years or so, and the industry has evolved so much that it is barely recognizable (and its evolution continues and is likely to appear vastly different five years from now).

The must-have qualities in a loan officer (LO) today are:

1.  Superior Product Knowledge

Knowing all the nuances of the loan product menu is crucial for a loan officer. How will your ability to be approved, your rate and your fees be impacted by your FICO score, Loan-To-Value, or liquid reserves? Being well versed in loan products and being able to see your personal situation as an underwriter is normally a function of experience.

2.  An Educated Opinion On Interest Rate Movements

No one is right all the time. However, I couldn’t imagine working with a loan officer who didn’t have an opinion on where rates are likely to move. Your originator should be in the advice business. They should be able to express their point of view in simple, logical terms. They should site financial data and reports (like inflation and employment data). They should understand the impact of geo-political events. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to decide when to lock in your rate, but don’t you deserve access to the best information possible to make your decision? Shouldn’t your LO provide it?

3.  Understanding Of The Credit Score Model

Your approvability and eventual rate and fees are determined by your Credit Score. You need a LO who knows how to help you get the optimal score. How will paying down a debt affect your score? Should you payoff a collection account before, after or even at all? How about those borrowers with limited trade lines or errors in their credit file?

4.  A Good Working Relationship With The Real Estate Agent

In today’s landscape, with frequent appraisal challenges and the structuring (and re-structuring) of deals, there needs to be excellent communication between the lender and the agent. Great loan officers have an understanding of the position, the responsibilities, and the psyche of the buyer, seller and the agent. The coordination of everyone toward a common goal is important.

5.  Impeccable Listening Skills

It is not a stretch to say every loan is different. You must search for a loan officer who is attentive and engaged. LOs need to ask questions, sometimes very personal questions. They need to understand your financing objectives, your strategy about this real estate acquisition, your current and future income, credit and so on, in order to truly give you the best advice.

In the world today, too many loan officers are “order takers”. You need an advisor. You need an advocate who knows the programs; who has an educated opinion on rates; who can help you get the best credit score possible; who understands the team dynamic between the agent and the lender  and who really listens to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.

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5 replies
  1. Tom Tousignant
    Tom Tousignant says:

    Great points – I would respectfully add they need to also work for a great mortage company that has these three qualities:
    1. The company requires that their Loan Officers are licensed, complete annual CE, and have undergone a background check – through a quirk in the reguations, loan officers at retail banks do not have licenses. (Imagine if only half of the real estate agents, attorneys, or appraisers needed licenses and the rest didn’t?)
    2. The company needs to control the process from start to finish, underwriting the loans themselves and lending their funds at closing.
    3. The company needs more than one outlet for their loans, so they can still take care of unique clients and shop for rates on their customer’s behalf.

  2. Elroy
    Elroy says:

    My loan office from Countrywide had all of those attributes and more, and me along with millions of other buyers got hurt and are still paying. And most LO’s who worked for them are now working for other mortgage companies. This post only touches on the most basic of basics. This isn’t even close to the makings of an expert. There’s so much more to it.


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