May 22, 2018

How to Interview Lenders

By J. Mansisidor

Making an informed decision about mortgage products relies on asking the right questions.  The same holds true when selecting a loan officer.  Some topics you may want to explore with prospective loan officers:

Product Knowledge: How knowledgeable is the loan officer about “Doctor Loans” or “Medical Professional” loan programs?  Does the loan officer specialize in working with medical professionals and really understand the unique circumstances that they face, or is the Doctor Loan just a product the loan officer has access to and sells as a novelty when circumstances fit?

Experience:  How long has the loan officer specialized in loans for medical professionals?

References:  Does the loan officer have references available?  Written testimonials are valuable when assessing how past clients feel about the loan officer.

Attention to Detail:  Does the loan officer take time to review your credit, research the area into which you’ll be moving, obtain accurate estimates for fees and insurance up-front, and then offer a quote that is truly customized to you? Relying on a quote that’s not based on accurate information is like trusting a diagnosis that’s not supported by lab work or imaging.

Closings:  Having your loan officer present doesn’t guarantee the closing will go smoothly, but it may be worth asking prospective loan officers how often they typically attend closings.

Product Highlights:  How well does each loan officer explain the relevance of loan products’ features to your situation?  Does the loan officer seem to push the need for a down payment, or weigh the pros and cons of making a down payment?

Availability and Communication:  How easy was it to get in touch with the loan officer?  How responsive was the loan officer?  Can you reach the loan officer and get answers to questions after hours or on weekends?

Differences You Notice:  It’s a good idea to interview a few lenders – both to get an idea of the physician loan programs available and to get a sense for which loan officers seem most knowledgeable and willing to answer your questions.

Be Vigilant:  Notice what different loan officers mention and what they gloss over; if a particular point seems like it’s being overlooked or portrayed as unimportant, you may want to ask for additional explanation or greater specificity.  Take note of the questions the loan officers ask you, and gauge for yourself whether they truly understand your situation and goals.

The old adage caveat emptor – buyer beware – applies to the mortgage industry just like any other.  Research your prospective loan officer: you can check the status of loan officers on line by looking up their NMLS numbers and verifying they are in good standing.  You can use Google or other search engines to check on what customers have to say about loan officers. And, you can ask loan officers about the sites where they’re listed as preferred lenders.

J. Mansisidor is a Senior Loan Officer with Fulton Mortgage Company a division of Fulton Bank, NA.