Research lenders on NMLS consumer access
Before you sit down and talk to a lender, make sure you’re prepared. Do research. Read up online about how mortgages work, what to look for, what to watch out for, and what can either cost or save you money. Get an idea of what you’re looking for in a home and what you need to borrow before you have a meeting with a lender. Also, research individual lenders before you talk to them.
Part of your research should include going to the National Mortgage Licensing System and Registry consumer access site and seeing what’s available on particular loan officers that you’re considering working with. Very importantly, the NMLS’ consumer access system should alert you to any disciplinary actions taken against given lenders, which should inform your choice of whether or not to work with them.
Ask about their experience and credentials
Depending on where you live, individual mortgage lenders or agents may or may not have to undergo a certain amount of training or licensing. It’s possible that the individual agent you’re talking to might be a seasoned veteran, but it’s also possible that they might have never originated a loan before. Just as homeowners should interview realtors, you should ask your potential lender about their experience, their process, and what insight their time in the market has given them.
Another thing to look for in a lender is one who seems interested in tailoring a loan to your needs. Don’t settle for an agent who’s just trying to get you to sign onto a one-size-fits all type of loan. Instead, find a lender who asks you questions, who’s looking into what you want and need, and who can actually deliver a loan that works for you.
Get a good faith estimate
After you’ve talked to a potential lender, obtain a good faith estimate (GFE) from them that lists the terms of your potential mortgage loan and look over what it will cost you. Also be sure to ask about who will service your loan and whether your loan will be sold or not. The GFE will also include whatever fees your lender will charge for their services, such as fees for appraisals, credit reports, and loan application.
Lenders are required by law to provide you with GFEs, and armed with that information you can make an informed decision about who in your area can provide a mortgage that suits your needs.