When you go to McDonald’s and order a hamburger, you know exactly what you’re going to get. All McDonald’s burgers have a certain sameness, no matter if you order the single, the double, or the one with cheese. McDonald’s has one beef burger with certain variations. If you want more gourmet choices, you need to go to a more upscale restaurant. Which usually costs more.
True enough, but what if you could get that better burger at the same price as McDonald’s? Would you choose to go there instead?
When you walk into a bank or credit union, it’s a lot like walking into McDonald’s: they have their own loan products to offer and nothing more.
It’s “one flavor fits all.”
If you don’t fit into their mold, you’re out of luck.
On the other hand, if you choose to do business with a full service mortgage company or a mortgage broker, that loan officer has a whole smorgasbord of loan products to offer. This is because he or she can shop a variety of wholesale mortgage lenders to find the best (and least expensive) one to fit your situation.
Do You Know About Wholesale Lenders?
Many people don’t know there are wholesale lenders. When you walk into your local bank, that is retail. Did you know that your bank might also have a wholesale division? Those offices are often located in a high rise building or tucked inside a sprawling business park.
They don’t advertise on radio or TV, and they do business with the public. You have to be a broker representing a client to get a loan from them.
They may have different or more generous underwriting guidelines. Sometimes they offer better interest rates, too.
Having a “Plan B” Option is Better!
Not long ago, a home owner came to me asking for an FHA Streamline Refinance. I sent the loan application through our own in-house lending, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out. If I’d been working at a bank, that would have been the end of the story for the home owner. But because I can also shop wholesale lenders and broker out loans, I was able to find the perfect match. The home owner is lowering her interest rate by a full 1% and saving a significant chunk of money as a result.
The Best Mortgage Lenders
Call me biased if you like, but I favor having more loan choices.
Sure, the job is easier when you’ve got only one menu to choose from, one set of loan products. But that’s not always best for the consumer.
When I first started working in the mortgage business in 1999, I worked for a direct lender that had only one set of loan products. It was a good way to learn the basics and get started. But after a year and a half, I had to move on and up. I needed to be able to offer more choices in order to serve more people. Now I work at Cherry Creek Mortgage Company, a full service mortgage lender. I like having more choices to offer.
Thank you for stopping by my blog. I appreciate each and every reader.
Just in case you’d like to know, I am state licensed in California and Washington. (NMLS License 1284134) You can learn more about me here. There’s a “Meet Carolyn Warren” section at the bottom of that page.
Bank, credit union, broker, or direct lender? What is the difference, and where is the best place to get a home loan? Having worked for a national bank, a broker, direct lender, and having interviewed with a credit union, I can provide some insider information. Here are some facts most consumers don’t know.
A mortgage broker shops wholesale lenders to find the best option for your loan. Think of a travel agent shopping airlines for you. Some people assume that using a broker costs more–a middleman fee–but that is not true. Because brokers go to wholesale lenders, they can often find you cheaper financing than if you go directly to your retail bank.
Brokers are required by federal law to obtain a loan officer license from the National Mortgage Licensing System. This means they must attend classes in lending law and requirements, then pass a rigorous test that about 30 percent of applicants fail. They must also be fingerprinted and pass a background investigation and credit investigation.
A direct lender uses their own money to lend rather than broker out to wholesale. Using in-house underwriting is sometimes an advantage for closing faster and for getting a more streamlined approval.
Loan officers working for a direct lender must obtain their NMLS license, passing all tests and background checks, the same as for a broker.
A bank also uses their own money, but typically, they do not close faster or easier. In fact, the large banks are usually slower and have tougher underwriting requirements to pass. It is not unusual to be asked for more documentation in the 11th hour, requiring getting an extension on the loan.
Loan officers at a bank do not have to get a NMLS license. They do not have to pass an NMLS test. They do not get fingerprinted or have a background investigation. I personally know of a case where a woman who was under investigation for loan fraud waltzed into a big bank and was promptly hired.
Everything above that applies to a bank also applies to a credit union. Some credit unions have excellent pricing and service, but others have horrific service. One popular West Coast credit union that I interviewed with has a bad business model. They have application takers in their branches, then those applications get passed on to a regional loan officer who handles dozens of branches. So the person you met with in the branch is not your actual loan officer, nor does that person have any training in mortgage loans. I’m sorry, but that is not my standard of service when it comes to something as monumental as buying a house.
FULL SERVICE MORTGAGE LENDER
I’ve saved the best for last. A full service mortgage lender has their own money to lend (like a direct lender) but can also broker out when needed. This gives the most options and the most flexibility.
Loan officers must meet all NMLS licensing requirements and pass all investigations and checks.
Personally, I work for a full service mortgage lender, and I like having more choices for my clients. I am state licensed in WA and CA, so I have taken state courses for both states, and have passed state tests as well as the big national test. I was fingerprinted twice and have passed all background tests, including an annual credit investigation.