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Mortgage brokers

Finding the perfect house may be difficult, but choosing the right mortgage loan can prove to be even more challenging, especially for first-time borrowers. While the mortgage process may seem daunting, finding a knowledgeable and reliable mortgage broker can conveniently simplify and expedite the process. A mortgage broker will help you navigate the mortgage system and will match your financial needs with a suitable mortgage from a selection of lenders. The key is choosing the right broker. You will need to have a basic understanding of the mortgage transaction process in order to compare various brokers across multiple criteria. It is also important to note that this comparison only includes mortgage brokers who are registered to originate loans in California.

People often confuse mortgage brokers with lenders. Essentially, a mortgage broker is a loan provider who serves as a liaison between you and mortgage lenders. A mortgage broker offers the loan products of various lenders, while a mortgage lender provides the actual loan money. Mortgage brokers do not loan money; instead, they work with you to help you find appropriately-matched mortgage loans. Typically, a mortgage broker will learn about your particular financial situation and then shop around for the best loan deal from lenders offering the particular type of loan you need. Brokers usually work with numerous lenders, attempting to match the right lender with your profile. Since they have so many lenders from which to choose, brokers are more likely to find loans for borrowers with special needs, such as bad credit, than individual lenders.

Mortgage brokers will accept your application and seek to lock in rates and terms with lenders. They also provide required state and federal disclosures. Additionally, brokers will gather all the necessary documents, including credit reports, employment verification statements, asset disclosures, and property appraisals. Once an application file is deemed complete, the mortgage broker submits it to the appropriate lender, who then handles loan approval and disbursement. A broker earns commission in exchange for bringing borrowers and lenders together. You usually pay the broker’s commission indirectly, in the form of closing costs or additional loan points. The mortgage broker will receive payment when the loan is closed.

While the process of obtaining a mortgage loan is complex, the basics of the transaction can be understood by even the most inexperienced borrower. And having a basic understanding of the mortgage process will prove to be beneficial when you meet with a prospective mortgage broker – it will go a long way as you discuss and compare your loan options with him or her. Here are the fundamental concepts of obtaining a mortgage loan that you should compare:

  • Loan Term : All mortgage loans have a term of repayment, which is the number of years that your payments will last. Your mortgage term can have a significant impact on your interest rates and monthly mortgage payments, making it a critical element to take into consideration. The most common options are the 15-year and 30-year mortgage terms; however, some loans may have terms for 10, 20, and even 50 years. The choice between a short- or long-term mortgage involves a simple trade off. Basically, the longer you borrow the money for, the more interest you’ll pay. The other side of this is that the longer you take to pay back the loan, the less you have to pay each month. You will have to determine which loan term is best according to your particular financial needs.
  • Interest Rate : The interest rate is the amount it will cost you to borrow the money, making it one of the most important factors in your mortgage. Interest is denoted as a percentage of the loan amount. You can choose to have a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage loan. With a fixed-rate mortgage, you won’t have to worry about the interest rate changing throughout the life of the loan, which means your monthly mortgage payment will never rise. While this offers some relief, you can end up paying a bit of a price for it, depending on the current mortgage rates. An adjustable-rate mortgage, on the other hand, carries more of a risk because your monthly mortgage payment will change according to market fluctuations. Yet this type of mortgage is very attractive to borrowers because the initial payments are significantly lower than those of a conventional fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Fees and Points : Aside from the interest rate, you also have to be aware of all the fees that may be incurred as a result of obtaining a mortgage. This can include a wide array of charges, ranging from loan application fees and origination fees to credit check fees and appraisal fees. It is also important to know the number of points, or discount points, on your loan. A point is a form of pre-paid interest that reduces your overall interest rate and therefore your monthly mortgage payment. One point is equal to 1% of the loan amount, so one point on a $150,000 loan would be $1,500, and two points on a $300,000 loan would be $6,000. Essentially, the more points you pay upfront, the lower your rate of interest and vice versa.

Now that you have a better understanding of the basic mortgage transactions, you are more prepared to compare mortgage brokers and ultimately find the best one for you. Here are the most important criteria to consider as you weigh your options:

  • Loan Type : You should first determine which loan type is best for your financial needs. Not all brokers handle all types of loans, so it is important to narrow your options to just those brokers that specialize in your preferred mortgage loan. There are various types of mortgage loans, but the two most popular options are fixed-rate mortgages (FRMs) and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). In a FRM, the interest rate and your monthly mortgage payment will remain the same throughout the entire life of the loan. The term is typically for 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. The biggest advantage of having a fixed-rate mortgage is knowing that your interest rate and monthly payments will never increase. You can also budget more easily because the monthly payments remain the same throughout the entire length of the loan. However, the interest rates of fixed-rate mortgages are higher than the interest rates on other types of loans, so the monthly payments are usually higher. With an ARM, the interest rate and monthly mortgage payment will only remain the same for a set period of time, after which they will adjust based on an index. This type of loan is therefore considered to be riskier because the payment can change significantly. But in exchange for the risk associated with an ARM, you can be rewarded with an interest rate lower than that of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Mortgage Loan Programs : Mortgage brokers often work with banks, since they are the most traditional lenders and typically offer the largest loans and best interest rates. But you’ll need a great credit score if you want the broker to secure a mortgage from a bank. If your credit has seen better days, then you may want to talk with the broker about other options. A number of federal, state, and local agencies offer programs to help those in need of assistance, which can include loans, down payment assistance, or subsidized building costs. Taking advantage of these programs can drastically reduce the cost of owning property, so carefully examine each type to see if one is suitable for you. Just be aware that applicants must meet a strict set of guidelines in order to qualify for these special loan programs.
  • Broker Reputation : It is also imperative to review each broker’s background and credentials. You will want a broker who has been in the mortgage business for several years and who works for a reputable company. See if his or her company has a high rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or any awards from influential business leaders like J.D. Power and Associates. It is even beneficial to see the monetary settlement and complaint ratings awarded by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Little complaints, multiple awards, and favorable BBB ratings show that the company has high standards for its business practices as well as its employees.

A mortgage is a long-term commitment and a big responsibility, so it is imperative to find a broker who has your best interests in mind and who can provide you with the best solution. Once you find the right broker, you can be assured that your concerns will be handled properly and that you will get the attention and service you require. Never settle for anything less.

Read the sections below for more information on how to choose a California-registered mortgage broker, or head back to the search results page to start comparing your options now.

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