Scoring the Right Mortgage Lender

Assemble a winning home-buying dream-team worthy of World Cup soccer champions when you follow these steps.

Kallee Feuz Jul 16, 2018

To score the home of your dreams, it helps to have a team of experienced professionals on your side. Your home-buying team may include a real estate agent, a title company and — if you’re financing your house — a mortgage lender.

In soccer terms, a mortgage lender could be compared to a midfielder. The lender operates on both sides of the home-buying process, getting you prequalified for a loan and then setting you up for the game-winning goal.

World Cup soccer only comes around once every four years, but you can assemble a winning home-buying team any time of year. Here are four winning qualities to look for in a top-notch mortgage lender:

Mortgage Lender Quality 1: Communication.

Every soccer player has a unique working style and so does every mortgage lender. As you shop around for home loans, pay attention not only to individual loan officers, but also to organizational personalities.

What is the lending institution’s reputation for dealing with customers? How responsive is the mortgage loan officer? Does he or she communicate the way you prefer, whether online, over the phone or in person?

Keep in mind that the average time to close a home purchase loan was 43 days in May 2018, according to Ellie Mae, and you will likely be in frequent contact with your loan officer before and during the closing process. That’s why it’s important to choose a mortgage lender who is a committed team player.

Mortgage Lender Quality 2: Speed and accuracy.

When a seller accepts your offer on a house, you need a mortgage lender who will be ready to take the ball and run with it like Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. They will have to work under pressure to make real estate contract dates and deadlines, including the financing and appraisal date and the settlement date. 

Ask prospective lenders about the expected timeline for processing a loan. What factors could potentially stall the process? Are loan decisions made locally? Consider the advantages of working with a local mortgage lender who operates in your time zone and is able to meet in person. 

Mortgage Lender Quality 3: Solid numbers.

You can't judge a footballer by a single statistic, and you can’t pick a home loan based on an interest rate alone. Instead, look at the big picture, including origination fees, closing costs, appraisal fees, and the mortgage rate. 

Use a home loan calculator to compare total costs over the life of the loan.  High closing costs and other lender fees may offset a low interest rate, while reduced closing costs often means increased interest payments. To find the best fit, compare loan estimates from several different lenders. Limit your mortgage shopping to a 45-day window to avoid damaging your credit. 

Mortgage Lender Quality 4: Positioning.

Like soccer plays, mortgage loans come in a multitude of configurations: conventional or government-backed, fixed-rate or adjustable — all with different term lengths and down payment requirements.

Unfortunately, not all mortgage lenders are as versatile as Argentine great Lionel Messi. Some financial institutions, for example, may not be in a position to offer a VA (Veterans Affairs) or USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) loan. Ask potential lenders about financing options and find a lender that offers the type of financing that matches your needs.

To learn about Zions Bank’s home loan products and services, visit the Zions Bank Homeowner’s Café. Zions’ team of lending professionals is here to help you get the best mortgage rates and assist you through every step of the home loan process.

Loans are subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. See a banker for details. Equal Housing Lender NMLS #467014

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