Across the country, there is a lack of homes for sale . and as a buyer, you may be frustrated that doors are being shut in your face – literally and figuratively – when houses you are interested in sell quickly.
In order to get ahead of the competition and be prepared to make an offer quickly so you don’t lose out on your dream home, there are several people who should be part of your home-buying team: realtors, appraisers and attorneys, just to name a few.
Most buyers also will need to enlist the help of a mortgage loan officer, a crucial team member who can, in some instances, be the X-factor when it comes to the success of your home-buying efforts. Think of a mortgage loan officer as the quarterback of the lending process: he or she leads the charge to help you secure a mortgage and serves as a liaison with underwriters.
Kyle Sweger, a PNC mortgage loan officer based in Chicago, has worked with more than 750 buyers over the course of his career.
“As a home buyer, it’s important to find the right mortgage loan officer,” he said. “Buyers should do their homework on potential team members when beginning the home search process. The mortgage loan officer’s goal should be to help you get to the closing table with a smile on your face.”
Here are Sweger’s tips on what to look for in a potential mortgage loan officer.
1. Personality matters
Are you the type of buyer who enjoys exchanging pleasantries and chatting with someone you can count on to ask about your family vacation? Or do you want to get down to business from the get-go?
“Chemistry is important, as this process relies heavily on trust and transparency – from both sides,” Sweger said. “If you walk away from your initial conversation feeling uneasy about the mortgage loan officer, you might want to work with one of his or her colleagues or find another lender.”
It can be a long process, so you want someone you feel comfortable working with for the long haul.
2. Communication is key
From the outset, you should expect to work with someone who spends a good portion of the initial conversation walking you through the entire buying process. Your prospective mortgage loan officer should be able to explain terms like purchase contract, appraisal and title. This is especially important for first-time homebuyers, Sweger added.
If you decide on a lender but find you’re constantly chasing down your mortgage loan officer to remind him or her about outstanding items or you find you have to repeatedly ask the same questions, there’s something amiss.
“While you should feel comfortable reaching out to your mortgage loan officer at any point in the home buying process, they should take the initiative to regularly check in with you and keep you updated on where various items stand,” Sweger said.
How often you communicate with your mortgage loan officer usually depends on the length of your closing period. For example, Sweger estimated he checks in with homebuyers who are building a home every two to three weeks over the course of several months. On the other hand, when a settlement date is within 30 days, he will touch base with the buyer every day or every other day.
3. Willing to go the extra mile
“Most homebuyers initiate the lending process by first asking about interest rates – but that’s the second-most important thing you should be asking,” Sweger said. “The most important thing is: Do I trust this mortgage loan officer to get me to the closing table on time?”
4. When it comes to real estate purchases, timing is critical
“You may have hired movers and painters, and perhaps your child is switching schools due to the move,” Sweger said. “You want to be working with a mortgage loan officer who communicates with you about your timeline and any possible hiccups. Otherwise, there could be a subsequent domino effect on other areas of your life, which may make the interest rate the least of your concerns.”
While there may be some small differences among lenders’ rates, they all generally will be close to one another.
If you’ve already started the lending process with a mortgage loan officer and feel that you’re not receiving adequate service, you can request a different point of contact with the same company. However, by doing so, it is possible you will be asked to fill out a new application. If that happens, any fixed rate you had already locked in with your previous loan officer may reset. Your rate could fluctuate depending on whether rates went up since you originally submitted your application.
While the home buying process can be stressful and overwhelming, having a competent, engaged mortgage loan officer can make things infinitely easier, smoother and – most importantly – more enjoyable!
Find the PNC mortgage loan officer that’s right for you »
Kyle Sweger is a PNC mortgage loan officer based in Chicago.
Contrary to what most people think, first-time homebuyers can put down as little as 3 percent toward their home’s down payment with certain types of loans.
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