When you apply for a home mortgage, you’ll work with a team of professionals that will help you select the right loan product, gather the proper documents, verify your information, and approve your loan. One of the people you’ll work with is a mortgage loan officer.
But what is a mortgage loan officer, and what do they do?
You might picture loan officers as corporate suits doing the work of big banks. But when you work with a local lender, your loan officer will be a member of your own community. Their mission is to help neighbors like you purchase their dream home.
September is National Mortgage Professional Month, and we’re celebrating! To learn about day-to-day life and what inspires professionals in this line of work, we spoke to our own loan officers here at Amplify Credit Union.
The Duties of a Mortgage Loan Officer
In short, a mortgage loan officer— also often referred to as a loan originator or MLO— helps a homebuyer navigate financing from beginning to end.
If you’ve purchased a home before, you probably worked with a loan officer. At the beginning of the loan process, they will help a borrower get pre-qualified and choose the right loan option. Once the borrower is ready to buy a home, the loan officer will guide them through the application process. Post-closing, the MLO will stay in touch with the borrower to make sure they have everything they need.
But the job involves so much more than simply taking and processing loan applications. Brandon Rains puts it this way: “The application is only step one; MLOs make it a complete application and get a rate locked in. Even after the borrowers close on a house, we stay in touch with homeowners to make sure they have what they need.”
Here are just some of the things that a local loan officer does for borrowers.
1. They understand the needs of the borrower.
One of the biggest things that a loan officer does is listen, which allows them to truly understand a borrower’s needs and unique situations.
“We listen to what a borrower's goals and expectations are,” Alex Cardona says. “The situation really varies from person to person— sometimes they’re buying a fourth house, and sometimes it’s their very first. Listening to financial goals is really important.”
Courtney Eckert agrees: “We really take the time to understand what goals our borrowers have, whether it’s reducing a monthly payment, paying off a loan faster, or consolidating debt. We want to make sure they’re improving their financial situation.”
2. They work to get loans approved.
A big advantage of working with a local lender is the flexibility that they provide. The reasons are complex, but here’s the basic idea:
- Big banks and online lenders don’t keep your mortgage after it’s issued—they typically sell that mortgage on. The bank or lender has to follow strict requirements to make sure they can find a buyer willing to take the loan. They’re trying to maximize their profit—even if it means disqualifying some folks who would otherwise be eligible for a mortgage.
- A local credit union is much more likely to keep your mortgage—not sell it to the highest bidder. Credit unions don’t have the same overly strict borrowing requirements, so they can work with borrowers to get them approved.
“One of the most important functions is figuring out how to get difficult loans done,” Ian Craig explains. “Because our underwriting is in-house, we have the ability to look at the specific details of a homeowner and make a calculated decision. This is not standard—a lot of other lenders won’t be able to grant a loan because they have to worry about the narrow requirements for reselling.”
This means that if a certain aspect of your financial picture isn’t quite up to par, you won’t necessarily be denied a loan. A local MLO can help find you a solution.
3. They educate borrowers.
Finances and lending aren’t always a straightforward process, so another big aspect of a loan officer’s job is educating borrowers and presenting information to them in a way that they understand it.
Todd Stiles explains Amplify’s philosophy like this: “We want to provide education and information for the borrowers that allow them to make an informed and intelligent decision on whatever financing they decide on,” he explains. “A good mortgage officer knows the questions that the borrower doesn’t know to ask.”
For instance, somebody might technically qualify for a $500,000 loan, but their payments might not be within a comfortable range in their budget. Here, the question is not just “How much do they qualify for?” but “How do I get their monthly payments to an amount that they are comfortable paying?” A mortgage officer will be able to explain how a mortgage will impact the borrower— not just give them a sheet with numbers.
“I want to give every piece of advice they need, so at the end of the transaction, the borrower leaves the title company with no regrets or second thoughts,” Stiles says.
4. They coordinate with other parties in the homebuying process.
If the homebuying process were a symphony orchestra, your mortgage loan officer would be a conductor. Mortgage paperwork must go through a number of departments and sometimes even other companies. Working with title companies, appraisers, insurers, flood certification companies, processors, and underwriters can take some major coordination. Though there can be a lot of moving parts, an MLO’s job is to make sure that the process is fluid.
“Every loan is different—there is almost always a nuance or challenge that throws up an obstacle that an MLO has to work through,” Stiles notes. However, even when presented with challenges, a good loan officer will keep the borrower at the heart of every decision.
What You Should Look for in a Mortgage Loan Originator
So what traits should you be looking for in a mortgage loan officer?
Gary Reimers recommends that you find an MLO that can check several boxes. “A good MLO needs to have skills in time management, problem-solving, responsiveness, and transparency,” he explains. “They also need to have the flexibility to meet the needs of their customers and be able to wear different hats to get the job done.”
A good mortgage loan officer does much more than help someone purchase property— they help their customers get into a home that they love.
Finding a Mortgage Loan Officer to Help You
Finding a trustworthy mortgage loan officer starts with choosing the right lender. A local lending institution—like your friendly neighborhood credit union— is a step in the right direction.
Here at Amplify, we want everyone to find the home they love and need. Our mortgage loan officers are ready to work with you to find the right loan. Contact us today for expert, local, and individual guidance.