I was working next to a newly hired loan officer. He was brand new in the business. A potential client asked him, “How much experience do you have?” Not wanting to say “two weeks,” he replied, “Five years.” Later, I asked him how he had five years experience when he was brand new and had not yet done his first loan.
“I was counting my experience playing baseball,” he said. Then he laughed.
The take-away is that it is important how you phrase your questions when interviewing loan officers. As a professional who has worked in both retail and wholesale lending since 1998, and as the author of Mortgage Rip-Offs and Money Savers, here are my suggestions.
Questions to Ask Your Loan Officer
- Tell me about your experience in the mortgage business. (Leave it open-ended so you can get the most insight into their experience.)
- How long does it take to close a purchase loan (substitute that with refinance, if applicable) with your company? (It takes longer to close a refinance, so be specific.)
- Everyone says they have “great service.” What do you do that is better than other lenders? (If they are truly great, they should give you a very specific answer, not simply dance around the subject with meaningless rhetoric.)
- What will you do if something unexpected happens in the middle of the process that threatens to sabotage my loan? (This is an excellent question to ask, because getting blindsided is no fun, and it happens more often than anyone likes to admit. It’s also a question I’ve never seen on anyone else’s list of questions, probably because the writer is not in the business himself/herself, or because they don’t want anyone asking that question.)
- Will you please give me an estimate worksheet that shows the terms of the loan? (This is an entire chapter in my mortgage books, so I won’t repeat the how and why here. Suffice it to say all the writers who tell you to call and ask what the interest rate is, are wrong. That approach will lead you to the biggest liar.)
If there is another important question you’d like to see on this list, please post it in a comment by clicking on comment at the top of this post.
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