Turn on your TV and it’s hard to miss the ads for mortgages and refinancing. As the dollar signs roll by, promising low rates and more savings, you can’t help but wonder: what’s the catch?
Our founding team has bought and sold over 20 homes. That’s a lot of mortgages. What we’ve learned is that there often is a catch. Work with the wrong person and you risk missing your closing date or, even worse, losing your dream house. You could get treated rudely and completely fleeced at closing, when you have no choice but to sign on the dotted line. Buying a home is complex and emotional – the last thing you need to be asking yourself is if you can trust the loan officer on the other side of the table.
It’s one of the reasons we created Maxwell: to help homebuyers like us connect with reputable loan officers who work and live in our communities. As we’ve built the company, we’ve come to admire the great loan officers we meet. They manage countless details of your loan, not to mention frequent regulatory changes, tight timelines, and demanding customers.
We have a few tips on how to cut through the syrupy slogans and smiling faces. In fact, these are the five factors we ask every homebuyer on Maxwell to evaluate the loan officers they meet through our platform:
- Communication: When you get a mortgage, the lender will dig into some of your most intimate financial details. After all, you’re asking them to give you hundreds of thousands of dollars. Christina Whelan, one of our loan officers from Cornerstone Home Lending, says it best: “I may be asking a homebuyer for a lot, but I also know it makes them uneasy or it comes as a surprise. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, but I always take the time to explain to the homebuyer why we need certain information and how it’s going to ultimately help them get into their home. I keep them and their agents up-to-date so they’re never in the dark.”
- Responsiveness: It’s 5PM on Saturday. You just walked through your dream home and want to move on it before anyone else does. “Nights and weekends? Of course,” says Taryn Bellavance one of our loan officers at Eagle Home Mortgage. “I know that’s when my homebuyers are making decisions together and may need my counsel. Email, text and phone me any time. Then let’s work hard to close on that financing as quickly as we can!”
- Organization: A loan officer tracks a lot of moving parts – documents, processes, regulations, rate trends, financial details, and third parties like appraisers. “Being a loan officer is a little like sitting in a cockpit – there dials, switches and flashing lights,” says Frances Wehner at SWBC Mortgage in Denver. “If we’re going to hit that closing date, it’s my role to understand what’s happening and make sure it all happens at the right time, with as little turbulence as possible!”
- Knowledge: One of the reasons a loan officer is so important is that home financing is just so complex. You’ll want someone like Mike Heldt from American Pacific Mortgage managing your mortgage. “Homebuyers don’t want to hear a bunch of big mortgage words and acronyms like 203K, CHFA, FHA and 1003,” says Mike. “They want to buy a home and I get to help them meet their needs with the best program. My favorite part of the job is understanding a homebuyer’s goals and dreams and then making sure they are comfortable with the mortgage offering we select. I’m not just helping them buy a house. I’m building lifelong trust.”
- Advocacy: It feels like it takes a village to buy a house. Listing agents, buying agents, inspectors, loan officers, underwriters, appraisers, processors, title companies, and government officials. Who is on your side? “I’m on your side,” says Nick Stewart from Liberty Home Loans. “You’ve saved money for years and dreamed of owning a home. I’m here to help make that happen. I regularly go-to-bat for my customers to take the pain out of the homebuying process. Sometimes we just need a creative solution to a big question. I really enjoy it!”
At the end of the day, it’s really hard to know anything about the guy at the other end of that TV commercial 800 number. Especially along the dimensions we outlined above. When you use Maxwell, you get to pick the loan officer that meets your needs. You can read reviews from other homebuyers, check out their endorsements from local real estate agents (and even your agent), and select a loan officer who will knock it out of the park on all five of the dimensions above. It really is that simple!