Mortgage Advice

Why Finding a Loan Officer is a Lot Like Finding a Friend

August 23, 2013

If you’re in the process of buying a home, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your mortgage loan officer. In fact, over the next couple of months, you’ll probably spend more time talking to them than you will some of your own friends and family. That’s not a bad thing—a quality loan officer communicates and follows up, not only to ensure the process goes well, but to also answer any questions you may have. Just like you wouldn’t jump into a relationship with just anyone, you want to make sure you choose a loan officer you’re compatible with—someone who will take the time to listen to your needs, do whatever it takes to make you happy and steer you in the right direction.

When finding a loan officer, these are the qualities you should look for:

Enjoyable to work with. Buying a home will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting times in your life. Yet, the length of time between the moment you fall in love with your dream home and the time you receive the house keys can take anywhere between 30-90 days, or more—and that doesn’t even count negotiations with the seller. Because of the tediousness nature of getting a loan, you’ll want to find a loan officer who can keep the anticipation of buying a home fresh and exciting. Whether they do simple things like call you every couple of days to update you on the status of your loan, catch up on conversation or simply send you handwritten notes, the most personable loan officers will find small ways to make your home buying experience enjoyable throughout the entire process.

Good listener. One of the most important qualities in a friend—and a loan officer—is the ability to be a good listener. You want to find someone who will take the time to listen to your needs and give you honest feedback and advice. While it’s common to look for these traits in your real estate agent, it is an especially important quality in a loan officer, as their listening skills could potentially save (or cost) you thousands of dollars. Loan officers who actively listen to their clients will be able to pick out small details in a conversation and use them to recommend a mortgage strategy that enhances your financial goals and helps you save (or even earn) money with your mortgage.

Dependable. When choosing a mortgage loan officer to work with, it’s important to find someone who will do whatever it takes to make you happy and close your loan on time—no matter what! Whether the closing process is smooth and simple or stalled by unexpected factors, you want someone on your side who will go out of their way to ensure contract dates are met. In today’s competitive housing market where sellers have the upper hand, you can’t afford (literally) to risk missing a deadline. If a lender fails to meet contracted closing dates, the dream house you just spent months looking for could be sold to someone else, and you will be left to start all over again.

Patient. As I mentioned in my previous point, there are a lot of factors that can stall a loan from closing on time. When several parties are involved in the transaction, it can be hard to get everyone to work in unison. Although this can cause some stress and lead to an assortment of frustrated emotions, a calm loan officer who is patient (and encourages others to be patient) will be able to work with all of the parties involved in the process and ensure the transaction works out in everyone’s best interest. Remember, your loan officer is not just talking to you, but to any number of different people involved in the transaction.

Trustworthy. Make sure they are looking out for your best interest, not their own. From a loan officer’s perspective, it should be about helping homeowners get into a loan that’s right for them, not about closing the sale. An honest and trustworthy lender will not think twice about talking homebuyers out of a larger loan and into a smaller one, or turning down a refinance that doesn’t benefit the homeowner. What’s more, you need to feel reassured that you are locking in on an interest rate that is your best option and not one that could change in a moment.

Caring. Lenders who actually care about your homeownership goals won’t treat you any differently because of your past financial history. Although they might not be able to approve your loan based on lending regulations, they will extend their help by counseling you on how to improve your financial situation so you can be approved for a loan later down the road. This is why your loan officer should care enough to explain the process and not just usher you out the door because you can’t help them with their bottom line.

Throughout the home buying process, you must remember that you are not bound to working with a bad loan officer. If you feel you’re not getting what you deserve, speak to a supervisor or move on altogether. By doing a little research before beginning the purchasing process, you can skip all of the hassle and pick a loan offer that provides you with the support you need.