Finding the Right Loan Officer
Before you start search for through Spokane Real
Estate listings, take a moment and consider your home financing.
Financing a home may be one of the most important monetary decisions you will
ever make in your life, so you want to make sure that you work with a lending
professional who brings experience, expertise and sound judgment to the table
here in Spokane,
Broken down to the very basics, a loan officer's job is to guide a borrower
through the home financing process. The loan officer reviews the borrower's
credit, assets, income, financial circumstance and objectives, and determines
which loan products will best suit the client's need. Then the loan officer
guides the borrower through the application and loan process.
But a qualified loan officer is so much more than just a home financing tour
guide. He or she should be a trusted advisor that helps you make a well-informed
decision about your home financing. Like an accountant, lawyer, real estate
agent or financial advisor, the loan officer is part of the continuum of your
personal finances. So you need to make a smart choice. Here are several
- Are they licensed? Loan officers are required by federal
law to be licensed in the state in which they work. To become licensed, a loan
officer must complete 20 hours of coursework, pass both a state and a federal
written exam, pass a background check and have no felony convictions. He or she
must regularly complete continuing education courses in order to maintain a
license in good standing. Many states also pull a loan officer's credit to
ensure they demonstrate financial responsibility. Moreover, Washington State has
separate licensing requirements that a loan officer must adhere to. And if the
loan officer is providing FHA loans, he or she must be licensed by the FHA.
Additionally, more than half the states in the U.S. require an additional
license to offer second mortgages. You should feel comfortable asking if your
loan officer is properly licensed.
- What is their education? At the very least, a loan officer
must hold a high school diploma to be hired as a loan officer. He or she then
receives on-the-job training. Many loan officers may also hold an undergraduate
or graduate degree in a field of study such as economics, business or
- What is their experience? Along with education, experience
is also critical when selecting a loan officer. You want someone who has an
intimate familiarity with the home financing industry, the available products
and how they can affect your decision-making. Ask whether or not he or she has
earned any internal or industry certifications or recognitions for his or her
work and how many years they have been in the business. Ask why you should
select them over someone else. Whether they are new to the business or have been
around for several years, you need to feel comfortable they have the expertise
to guide you towards the best home financing solutions for your particular
needs. A brand-new loan officer is not necessarily uninformed and may make a
great advisor for you as their financing education will be fresh in their
- Who are their referral partners? A smart loan officer will
work with various third-party referral partners, such as financial planners and
real estate agents, to help provide their clients with additional financial
expertise. Ask the loan officer for a list of referral partners and learn more
about those third parties and their businesses. You'll want to work with a loan
officer that can help provide solutions at every step of the process by pointing
you in the right direction to other experienced professionals.
- Do they have references? Ask for references and then
interview some recent clients of the loan officer to learn their opinions on the
loan officer's capabilities. Word of mouth still goes a long way, so sit down
with some past customers and get their candid take on the loan officer's pros
and cons. This will give you an idea of what to expect should you choose to work
with that particular loan officer.
- What is their responsiveness and how do they communicate?
Ask the loan officer how frequently he or she communicates with clients and what
is the typical means of communication. Ask what types of information you should
expect to receive, as well. Also, get a good idea on how responsive he or she
will be to your queries. Ask questions such as, "If I have a question about the
loan terms, how quick will you get back to me?" You want to make sure you'll be
satisfied with the loan officer's customer service.
- What are their core business values? This is a powerful
open-ended question to ask because the answers can vary widely from loan officer
to loan officer. Are they committed to customer service? Do they want to get you
the best possible rate? Do they want to deliver flexible terms? No two lending
professionals will give you the same response. Make sure the loan officer's
responses match your needs.
Last but not least, you are ultimately looking for a partner and trusted
advisor to help you make a very complex decision. Seek out a Spokane, WA loan
officer who is asking you questions about your finances and your future goals.
This will demonstrate that the loan officer is trying to determine a loan that
will fit not only your home, and not only your finances, but one that will fit
your life. If your loan officer is asking those fundamental questions, then
you've probably found the right one.