Mortgage Help: Find the Best Mortgage Lender by Asking the Right Questions

When buying a home, you might be answering many questions, but your lender should have all the answers when you’re looking for mortgage help. They’re the subject matter experts, after all.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau recommends comparing multiple mortgage lenders and loan options before settling on one. With so many “fastest,” “quickest,” and “lowest” options, how do you find a lender who will give you the mortgage help you need? By asking the right questions and knowing—or at least having an inkling—of what the right answers sound like. 

Below, you’ll find a few questions we suggest asking to help you understand how well the lender is connected to the local area and how well they can manage projects and relationships. These queries go beyond interest rates and down payments and can help you zero in on the right lender.

“Why should I choose you instead of a mortgage broker?”

This question can help set the tone when seeking mortgage help and give you immediate insight into a potential lender. An experienced mortgage officer or lender will immediately recognize the opportunity to help someone with their home-buying needs.

So, what’s the difference between mortgage broker and lender? A mortgage broker helps people find the best lender for their needs. A direct lender is a credit union, bank, or other financial institution that determines your qualifications for the loan and funds it if you do. Direct lenders can often make quick decisions and offer faster closing times, hands-on mortgage help, and more. Some lenders will work with you even after the loan is approved, helping you with different parts of the home-buying process.

“What home loan option do you think is best for me?”

Ask this question to see how well the lender truly understands your needs and the variety of home loans available. Beyond offering a more typical 30-year fixed-rate home loan, a lender should also discuss options that make the most of your purchasing power. For example, a well-versed mortgage expert should discuss the benefits of a VA home loan if you’re a veteran. Or, if you’re planning to stay in your new home for five years or less, an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) might be the right tool to get you a lower initial interest rate. In a high-interest rate environment, a home loan officer might suggest a 2-1 buydown program to lower your interest rates for the first two years of your mortgage. 

Even if you know what kind of home loan you want, ask this question. The mortgage consultant may suggest the same type of mortgage you were already thinking of, ensuring that you’re all on the same page. Or they may offer a different kind of loan that they believe is better for you, which might be one you haven’t thoroughly considered. The lender should be able to tailor their response to reflect your current needs and goals.

“What is your experience and reputation in the community?”

A key advantage of working with a lender with a solid community presence is their local knowledge and reputation. An experienced, respected lender in the area where you want to buy will probably know other real estate professionals who can help make the process easier. Their connections can often make a difference regarding the appraisal process, answering questions from the seller’s agent, or making the best offer possible. And the benefits of working with a local lender go beyond signing on the dotted line. Even after the loan has closed, getting in touch with the local lender is simple.

“What is your track record of success?”

The best mortgage lenders have financed countless loans in the area and have learned to expect the unexpected. They can anticipate issues before they arise and know how local, regional, and state regulations could impact you. If there are any problems, they’ll find alternatives and solutions. In short, they’ll move heaven and earth to hold up their end of the bargain.

Asking the right questions can shed light on a mortgage officer’s success in securing mortgages for buyers like you. For instance, you can ask how many people and families the organization has helped become homeowners in the past year. Or find out how long it usually takes to close a loan after applying. In addition to getting facts and figures, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals to speak to other borrowers about their experiences.

“How flexible can you be with the mortgage help I need?”

You need a lender who understands that buying a house isn’t an emotionless transaction. Instead, it’s a profoundly personal, significant life event that deserves its due. And, like any life event, there may be some hiccups along the way. Your mortgage lender should be able to help when life happens—whether you’re welcoming a new family member or have an unexpected event or loss of income.

“How easy is it to talk to you?”

Communication should always be a top priority when assessing lenders. It’s key to transparency and trust in the loan process. A seasoned mortgage lender knows the emotions and anxiety that come with a mortgage and will keep you in the loop every step of the process.

Ask your potential lender about how they communicate. How often will they keep in touch, and in what way? Who will you be talking to? Do they have a reliable support channel? Is it easy to book face-to-face meetings? What about when the loan is closed? Will they be there for you when you’re considering refinancing or buying your next home?

“How does your organization give back to our community?”

While some lenders focus solely on their clients, those with a track record of community involvement will be even more committed to your success. If a mortgage lender goes above and beyond to make the place where you plan to live better for everyone, they won’t just see you as a financial opportunity. Instead, they’ll view you as a new neighbor they care about.

When choosing the right lender, don’t be shy about asking questions to get the mortgage help you need. You should be in the driver’s seat of your home-buying process, which means acquiring as much knowledge as possible and doing your research. Applying for a mortgage is one of the most important decisions you will make, so ask away!