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Higher Rate, More Fees For “Service”?

Would you pay a higher interest or more lender fees if you thought you would receive better service during your loan process?

That is the question home buyers were asked in a survey by Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting. People in the 18 to 35 age group said yes, they would pay more for better service.

The two areas of most frustration were (1) slow loan processing, and (2) lack of communication for what was going on with the loan.

As a mortgage industry insider, here is what I’d like home buyers to know.

First, you do not have to pay more for better service. In fact, paying more will not buy you faster processing and more communication. To get better service, you need to choose a better lender.

Second, you will not find out who will give you the best service by asking the question, “Will you give me good service?” Or, “What is your service like?” All salespeople — including loan officers — are going to tell you what you want to hear. Promises of “great service” mean nothing.

Instead, ask specific questions and then listen to your gut instinct. For example, ask, “What is a realistic closing time?” If the answer is more than 30 days, you know this is a lender with slower service than others. If the answer is, “We do 60-day rate locks,” you know this is a lender with slow service who is trying to tell you slow service does not matter.

Another question you can ask: “What is your system for keeping me  updated during the loan process?” The loan officer should give you a clear, specific answer and not dance around the subject. Pay attention to your gut instict.

Another good question: “Will you personally be handling my loan all the way through the process to closing, or do you hand it off to another team member?” If the loan officer tells you the loan is handed off, you know that no one individual is going to care about your overall service, because each team member is responsible for only a small segment. No one individual is responsible for making sure you’re happy. When a loan officer handles the loan from start to finish, that person has a greater incentive to provide timely communication and good service.

Personally, I would never work with an “assembly line” type of lender. Nor would I recommend one.

I am a fan of mid-size and small lenders — both banks and mortgage brokers. I find that on average they close loans faster. But to be fair, it’s not the lending institution but the individual loan officer that makes the most difference. There are also top-service loan officers at large banks, and loan officers who are lazy about service at smaller companies.

A great loan officer — the type I like to call Mortgage Stars in my books — will not charge more for providing the excellent service and communication you should receive.

As always, thank you for stopping by to read my blog. I welcome your opinion, and you’ll find the Comment link at the top of this post.

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