Three Questions You Must Ask Your Loan Officer
Written by: Carey Pott
It's pretty easy to isolate the good from the bad in a lot of
professions: a dentist laughing gleefully every time you flinch,
a plumber demanding payment up front while your knees disappear
underwater, a real estate agent who never returns your call or
is constantly dragging you to inappropriate houses. You wouldn't
let any of these hang around long enough to do any real damage.
A loan officer is a little bit harder to quantify, largely
because the bad ones often don't show their true colors until
late in the house-buying process.
Still, you may gather a few clues from thoughtful interviews of
any you are considering. Yes, you should interview a loan
officer (or a real estate agent, for that matter) just as you
would any potential employee or contractor. This person will be
every bit as important to you over the next few months as your
secretary, babysitter, or auto mechanic.
Without further ado, here are the three questions you MUST ask:
1) What hours are you available?
The right answer to this question is "Whenever you need me".
Real estate takes place during weekends and evenings and you may
well need to get hold of your mortgage person at some very
awkward times. Your loan officer will be ungrudgingly available
to fax you a revised preapproval letter or answer questions even
if it is the Fourth of July.
Most of the time a good loan officer will be able to keep you
up to date with what's going on and answer your questions during
normal work hours. Most importantly, a good loan officer will
always make themselves available when you're signing the loan
documents. This is the most critical point of the loan and the
time when you're most likely to have questions, so they NEED to
be available while you're signing.
2) How do I reach you outside of office hours?
A good loan officer will give out his/her cell, home phone, or
beeper numbers for emergency use. There is a responsibility on
your part to not abuse this access. If you are making an offer,
7 PM on a Sunday is not too late for a call, but 9 PM probably
As we mentioned above, a good loan officer will make himself
available for you whenever you need him and will make sure he's
available at all times. Being a loan officer is somewhat similar
to being a doctor - if you do your job right, you can get
everything done during normal working hours. However, if
emergencies come up or a patient desperately needs you, you need
to make sure they know where to find you.
3) Do you have coverage for times when you are not available?
Everybody needs a break and busy loan officers usually have
reciprocal coverage agreements with like-minded colleagues. Make
sure you have those phone numbers and instructions for when they
should be used.
A good loan officer will make sure you know well in advance
that he's going to be away for a certain period of time and that
you will be covered while he's gone. They will typically try to
time things so that none of the really important items come up
while they're gone and will have one of their trusted coworkers
cover for them while they're gone. No one will know your
situation as well as your loan officer, but try to be patient
while they enjoy some well-deserved time off.
Some Final Thoughts:
More than anything else, try to use common sense when picking a
loan officer. If someone starts giving you rates right away on a
30-year fixed loan, without asking any questions about your
situation, there's something missing. They should be able to get
a good idea of your situation and have you answer the questions
they need to know in 10-15 minutes, then give you a good idea of
how they can help.
Particularly in the case of refinancing, the loan officer
should ask what you are trying to accomplish and help you figure
out the best way to accomplish that. Only when he has these
answers can he guide you to the most appropriate products or
even advise you that perhaps now isn't the time.
About the author:
Carey is the Publisher of Home Experts Online.
Home Experts Online offers people the opportunity to learn from
experts around the world on topics related to purchasing, owning
and maintaining a home.
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