Without question, the #1 thing I’m asked daily is what separates me from the rest of my peers in my industry. It’s a fascinating question actually, and one that I can easily answer. After all, I’ve been doing my job for a long time. I mean a long time, like pre cell phones long time. You don’t have a career for almost twenty years in the same industry and not pick up a few tricks of the trade along the way. Sadly though, Big Brother started to implement in 2010 and then re-implement every month thereafter it seems like, banking rules and regulations that substantially leveled my industry’s playing field. The vast majority of loan officers are now under federal rule and supervision and no longer have the authority to make special exceptions for a mortgage transaction. Basically, we are all selling the same product in terms of mortgage rates and fee structures.
In layman’s terms, all loan officers are exactly the same, but different. I’m making the assumption that all loan officers are competent in their job and know how to read guidelines and can interpret a rate sheet. So as to say we are all exactly the same is to reference that we all have the same product to offer you as the client. So how do we stand out, how do we differ? What makes one loan officer more qualified to help you through the lending process better than any other? Now we get to my easy answer: Go with your gut.
The only real tangible difference between loan officers has nothing to with the actual product they are helping you navigate. In fact, you can make an argument that the only true way a loan officer can differentiate themselves from the pack is by displaying qualities that have nothing to do with lending at all. The process of choosing a loan officer should be treated like making a new friend. Who could possibly be better at working for you in your best interests than a friend (unless you are lucky enough to have a mortgage professional in the family)? As you go through your mental checklist of great friend qualities, here are some additional questions I’d might ask in the interview process for your new lending friend and some normal answers:
How long have you been in the mortgage business? Based on sweeping changes in the industry, and through no fault of their own, mortgage professionals may have been required to change employers if their old company didn’t survive the mortgage crash. Spend less time focusing on them being with one company for twenty years and more time with knowing that the mortgage professional has been in the industry for twenty years. Still though, they should have been working for their current employer at least a year or more so they can get familiar with their policies and procedures.
Do you have any special expertise? If you know you will need a VA loan, ask them if they are an expert in that program. Ask them generally as well what they are an expert in. Having an expertise in the program or situation you will be encountering will go along ways in ensuring the process is smooth for you. Think of it as a like interest for a friend. You’re ahead of the game.
What could potentially cause a loan to be denied or delayed? It’s good to know the hurdles before hand so all involved can be adequately prepared and realistic expectation can be met. Ask questions about timelines, processing docs needed, expectations, etc. Get everything out there so both parties can move to a smooth closing.
Can you explain any potential fees and current interest rates? Your loan officer should be patient in explaining all potential fees and their relationship with available interest rates. If they are skipping past this part, or answer hesitantly, it can be a red flag that they are aren’t knowledgeable about them, or are not being truly honest with costs and rates.
In the end, the only thing that separates an individual loan officer from their peers, is your gut reaction. The most crucial questions though are reserved for you. Once you have spoken to the loan officer, how did they make you feel, are you comfortable with this person? Could this person be a friend of yours, do you trust them with your important information? Do you feel they will return calls promptly and act in your best interest? Was the banker responsive and able to answer your questions quickly? When choosing your loan officer, go with your gut reaction to these questions. And it’s why all loan officer are exactly the same, but different.