Many home buyers get their loan straight from a bank, perhaps one where they already have a checking account. Which is fine, but know this: “Lenders only offer their product,” says mortgage broker Ken Crichlow of First Rate Funding in Albany, NY. Even Quicken’s Rocket Mortgage, for all its speed, offers only Quicken loans, which is a bit narrow to say the least.
Brokers, by contrast, can present you with all your loan options, from a variety of lenders. And since shopping around is key to finding the best deal, odds are a broker will deliver a more ideal loan than one bank or app ever could.
Yes, you can compare multiple lenders on your own, but that’s a time-consuming proposition—one that brokers can take off your shoulders and manage with ease. They can fill out your paperwork, tell you where to sign, and handle all the negotiations with lenders. What’s more, many have relationships with certain banks that enable them to speed up the whole process. So, if you’re in a rush or short on time, using a broker is akin to hitting the accelerator and having your own Uber driver combined.
Should you get a fixed or an adjustable interest rate? A 15- or 30-year loan? That will depend on many variables, from your income to your credit score to how long you plan to stay in the home. Brokers can help you weigh your options and find a loan that’s right not just for any old home buyer, but you.
“Brokers can look at your specific characteristics and match your application to the best lender given your circumstances,” says Crichlow. This can particularly come in handy if you’re a less-than-ideal or abnormal candidate.
Are you receiving a large cash gift for the down payment, starting a new job, or making a large purchase? All of these can be hurdles to conquer, and warning signs for a bank, if not handled properly. Or, if you’re struggling with poor credit or eager to take advantage of a federal program like FHA or USDA home loans, you might struggle to find a lender that offers those directly to consumers. That’s where brokers can step in and pave the way, and continue offering support right on up to the day you close.
So if the very idea of getting a mortgage makes your blood pressure rise, the extra attention could be worth every penny.