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I’m prepared to take some flack for this one… My wife will be starting my car for the next couple of weeks. All mortgage lenders are not the same, and a bad (or lazy, or incompetent) one can cost you not only in fees and rates, but in getting the home you want.
I don’t envy mortgage lenders. With increasing government regulations, company policies, nervous buyers—and yes, difficult real estate agents—they can easily find themselves in Ulcer City. There are some great ones out there, but many are their own worst enemy (with the possible exception of me, if they screw up my deal).
One of the great things about my loan officer is she’s always available when I need a human.
Most real estate agents will tell you that they cringe when they see a large bank or an online lender listed at the bottom of a client’s prequalification form. I’ve worked with some awesome individuals at both, but both have a reputation in the business of being all hat and no cowboy. Promises of great rates and awesome service upfront turn to unexpected costs and voicemail hell more often than not, I’m afraid.
A good lender doesn’t keep office hours. I’m all about reasonable expectations, but if the voice message says “I return calls within 24 hours, or on the next business day,” I can pretty much guarantee a call on 4:59 p.m. on Friday will not get returned until sometime Monday. In some situations, that’s the difference between “congratulations on your new home” and “we’ve accepted another offer.”
Real estate transactions rely heavily on deadlines met, calculations calculated, and promises kept. It’s tough to stay on track when your loan is being bounced around like a warped tennis ball through the virtual halls of a discount online lender.
Bottom line: Get references (and check them), go with a local, experienced, and customer-service-oriented lender, and stay on top of things. The process will probably still have a hiccup or two, but at least you’ll know you’ve got someone who’ll be there when you need a human.