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Shopping for a mortgage can be one of the more arduous steps in buying a home. A mortgage broker can simplify this process by connecting homebuyers with appropriate loans, preparing application materials and guiding the borrower through underwriting and closing. Plus, unlike loan officers who work for specific banks, mortgage brokers have access to a wider range of mortgage products—which means borrowers may be able to get more favorable interest rates.
Working with a mortgage broker is a great option for anyone who wants to remove some of the legwork and headaches from the mortgage process. But brokers can be especially helpful for first-time homebuyers who need extra support.
Keep in mind, though, that mortgage brokers work on commission and may have preferred lenders that don’t always offer the best interest rates. Therefore, if you have experience buying and financing real estate and feel comfortable shopping for a mortgage yourself, you may save money by working without a broker.
What Is a Mortgage Broker?
A mortgage broker is a licensed and regulated financial professional who acts as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders. Brokers identify loans that meet borrower needs and then compare rates and terms so the homebuyer doesn’t have to. Mortgage brokers have the ability to offer mortgage products from a network of lenders and provide access to a greater range of products than loan officers, who are limited to their own bank’s offerings.
Mortgage brokers then guide clients through the application and underwriting processes, often by compiling application materials, pulling the borrower’s credit history and verifying income and employment information. Finally, mortgage brokers work with everyone involved in the transaction, including the real estate agent, underwriter and closing agent, to ensure the loan closes on time.
Mortgage Broker Vs. Loan Officer
Mortgage brokers are financial professionals who work with a number of lenders to offer a wide range of loan programs to consumers. These brokers match borrowers with specific lenders and loan programs that best meet their needs for a fee or commission.
A loan officer, on the other hand, works for an individual bank or other direct lender and can only sell mortgage products offered through that institution. For this reason, mortgage brokers give clients access to a much broader array of lenders—including lesser-known institutions that may offer more favorable terms than well-known, brick-and-mortar banks.
How a Mortgage Broker Works
Perhaps you want to buy a house and you don’t have an existing banking relationship or aren’t satisfied with the rate offered by your current mortgage lender. You can call a mortgage broker who works with multiple lenders to help borrowers identify the best loans and rates from a broad range of loan programs.
Using a mortgage broker can also save you a tremendous amount of time. Rather than contacting several lenders individually and poring over complicated loan offers, you simply work with a broker who determines how much loan you’re likely to qualify for and handles all of the legwork for you.
Brokers then help the homebuyer compile the necessary documentation and shepherd them through the application and underwriting process. Upon closing, the mortgage broker earns a borrower fee or lender commission of between 0.50% and 2.75% of the total loan amount—depending on the broker’s fee structure and whether they’re being paid by the mortgage lender or borrower.
How to Choose a Mortgage Broker
Applying for a mortgage can feel like an extremely personal and invasive process, so it’s important to find an experienced broker who makes you feel at ease and who has your best interests at heart. Start the search for a broker early in the home-buying process so you have time to find a broker who can identify the best loan for you and help you through application, underwriting and closing.