Here is a few tips for you guys when it comes to mortgages. (ok, more than a few)
#1: The difference between retail and wholesale. Retail is your banks, credit unions and direct lenders (some big direct lenders would be Quicken, Guaranteed Rate, Fairway, etc). Wholesale is your mortgage broker. I shouldn't have to tell you which is going to end up giving better rates and cost on average.
#2: The bigger the Bank the more they usually suck. UNLESS you are your typical FBG rolling in cash. If you are, then the big and regional banks that have wealth management departments will be very aggressive in offering jumbo loans. They basically use it as a loss leader. They will give you a great deal and then get you into their wealth management where they make all their money off of you. When it comes to mortgages, a jumbo is pretty much the only time you want to talk to a bank. Otherwise, avoid banks though sometimes your smaller banks will have a pretty good deal.
#3: If you see them advertising on TV, I promise you, they suck. Quicken spends ridiculous amounts of money on advertising. Why? Because the people who don't know better who have done loans with them before and almost always got bent over are paying for this marketing machine. Plus, they are pretty much the slimiest lender out there. Over and over and over again hearing clients tell me "they said X to me" and in reality it is "Y". They also typically will start off with what seems like a great rate and then charge 3 points in origination charges. DO NOT go to Quicken (aka Rocket Mortgage) or one of the slim ball VA lenders like Veterans United or New Day.
#4: I love credit unions. Huge fan of them. I belong to two of them. CU's are usually your best bet for checking, savings, car loans, personal loans, equity loans or lines, etc. However, one area that they are not usually your best bet is mortgages. The reason is mostly about scale. There are some large CU's but most are still relatively small. They do not do enough volume to be efficient and the large loan amounts take a big chunk of their reserves. Go ahead and check with your CU, they can offer some good deals, I have seen it and they will still tend to beat banks and direct lenders but not usually the best bet.
#5: Rate is not the end all be all of doing a loan. You have the rate which of course is important but there are also fees and origination charges. A typical game that is played is showing a great rate but then when you compare to another lender you see that you are really PAYING for that great rate. Often times as a broker, I am able to match the rate and give a credit versus the origination points they are charging. Be mindful of that.
#6: Use the Loan Estimate! Wherever you go, when you get the Loan Estimate, shop it to other lenders. You can just send it to the lender and let them come back with their offer or you can put more work in it and just shop and compare rates. What happens if you do? Worst case, you get the peace of mind that you are getting a good deal. Best case, you save yourself thousands of dollars!
#7: Your current lender is not going to make it easier than going to another lender. They will need to get all new docs or if it a streamline another lender can do a streamline as well.
#8: Unless you hate yourself and want to throw your phone away forever do not go to a website that 'shops' loans. First of all, they don't really. All they are doing is selling the leads to lenders. Second, you will get bombarded by phone calls and wish you never even heard of Lending Tree or whatever else.
#9: Always shop lenders. Mortgage brokers do the shopping for you accessing multiple lenders and getting wholesale pricing.
#10: Don't make assumptions about what you can or can not do with a refinance. Talk to someone who actually knows. They can go over your options after figuring out your situation and your goals. I have seen some bad thinking in here that is costing people significant money.
#11: The better your credit score the better your rate. You are going to top out around the 740-750 area. So, don't worry about getting an 800 credit score.
#12: If you have more debt other than the mortgage/equity loan or line then you might be better off refinancing all the debt into the home.
#13: DO NOT listen to Dave Ramsey when it comes to mortgages. He is a dolt when it comes to mortgages, gives horrible advice and then sends his followers to Churchill mortgage because he gets paid advertising from them. It disgusts me. People trust him and he sends them to a crappy retail lender because he gets a big check from them on top of giving really HORRIBLE advice that ends up costing people tons. Just ignore him when it comes to mortgage advice.
#14: If you are getting a mortgage, don't do anything stupid like deposit a bunch of cash into your account or buy a new car or change jobs. Anything to do with your job, credit and income can cause problems for the loan. Yes, I don't care if you are doing the same job for more money- I can't close your loan on time now. (real life situation, I was able to save the loan but this ding dong couldn't get through his head that most lenders would have killed the deal and it was all our fault somehow that we couldn't close on time).
#15: Realize that the vast majority of down payment assistance programs are pushed by lenders who do them and realtors who want you to buy a home with them as free money is NOT. Why do they pitch it like that? Well, why wouldn't you use a lender or realtor who is offering you free money?! This is the way that most of them work... they are set up to give money in a form of a forgivable loan or silent second or another such form. You must keep the loan for an extended period of time 5-7 years is most common. Once you do (meaning you can not sell or refinance that loan) then you are free! Here is the thing... that 3-3.5% of the purchase price that they gave you jacked up your rate. I have calculated the differences- not from different lenders but from lenders that I know using a program, the rate you would get with them without the DPA and the rate you get with it... and let's say you got $10K from them... that $10K ends up costing you $30-40K over the period that you did PLUS potentially an opportunity cost of refinancing as I have done for all my clients who listened to me last year and now that rates have dropped are realizing large savings. There are true grants out there (where there is no ties to the money) but most of these also have a higher rate. I have access to some of these programs but only have done one in the last few years and that was after being sure to explain everything in detail and the real cost to the client (side not, the plan was to refi them later which we plan on doing in a couple of months).
#16: If you are veteran, first responder, medical profession- the great sounding program (Homes for Heroes is the largest one) where you get money back isn't as great as it sounds. I promise you. The realtor part of it is actually a good deal for you but the lender side where they typically pay for your appraisal (around $400-600) is likely costing you a ton of money in the rate and cost of the loan. These are usually retail lenders who have lot's of extra cash (there is a reason why they have to charge higher rates and fees/origination) that pay into these programs, which are relatively expensive (for a lender about $1800 a year for Homes for Heroes just to be part of their program and that is it). You can still shop the lender. DO SO!
#17: First time home buyer programs are usually marketing schemes. There are some benefits offered if you are doing a conventional loan which anyone can have access to. Other things are usually the DPA programs (see #15) and should be avoided. Your third cousins best friend's dog's breeders brother who got $10K free money to buy a home is more times than not money that cost them.
#18: Most loans over 80% loan to value that doesn't have mortgage insurance is costing you in a higher rate. If you are doing conventional loan, you can get rid of the MI later. If it is baked into the rate it is there for life of the loan.
#19: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY if you are building a home PLEASE understand that the builders preferred lender that they are going to give you $10K in free upgrades for using them is going to cost you much more money than the $10K they are 'giving' you. Here is how this scheme works. The free upgrades actually are going to cost them maybe $2K if that to do. In return for you using their preferred lender and getting absolutely bent over they are going to get a nice big fat check worth alot more money. The builder and the lender will laugh at you sitting in the model house counting your money you just forked over as they watch you move in.
#20: A realtors 'preferred lender' can be good or can be bad. There is no way to tell. Here is how it works in the industry. Retail lenders who tend to charge more have bigger budgets to spend on marketing. They will 'partner' with realtors and pay for the realtors marketing (also sponsor things like their meetings, or holiday party, or conferences or whatever else) and in return the realtor makes them their 'preferred lender' so the realtor will refer you to them when you are not already using a lender. Now, you can also have 'preferred lenders' that don't do that stuff and the realtor has found them to be a good lender. (side note here, in the average realtors eyes, a good realtor is one that closes deals and does it on time and not so much about rate and cost) For example, I am several realtors 'preferred lender' but do not spend money on them and it is really based on them knowing I can get more loans approved, close on time and give their clients great deals. Overall, NEVER get loan advice from a realtor unless they are the rare ones that are licensed for lending and actually know what they are talking about (that is significantly less than 1% of them)
#21: You don't need 20% down. Don't keep waiting to buy when you are spending money away on rent. Every month you pay someone else's mortgage (paying rent) is money you will never see a dime of again. As an owner you are building wealth. Think of it this way... landlords are landlords for a reason. They are not losing money and on top of it are gaining equity. For most Americans, their 'wealth' is almost exclusively in their homes. Not retirement accounts or stocks etc but built up equity from paying down principle and appreciation of their homes which is historically pretty consistently 5% over periods of time (including booms and crashes).
#22: You don't need perfect credit to get a mortgage. You can do a FHA loan with a minimum credit score of 580 with as little as 3.5% down of the purchase price.
#23: When picking a good realtor find out these things about them: A) Do they do this as a full time job or is it a side gig or something they do when they are bored etc. You want a full time realtor for the experience and focus. Trust me. The exception on this would be a semi-retired realtor but honestly, they are usually ones to pass on as well. You want someone who knows the market, is sharp on negotiation and has good contacts. B) How long have they been doing the job. Experience counts for sure. But I rather go with a rookie doing it full time than someone been doing it 10 years as a part time gig. C) What is their availability. You want someone that will be available on your time tables and not theirs. D) How many houses have they sold or closed on? It will give you an idea about how productive they are. But keep in mind, someone who isn't as productive might be hungrier and more flexible to you versus someone who is doing tons of volume.
#24: Always get an inspection done from a good inspector. Do not skimp here. A good inspector will give you very important info on the home even if there is nothing to be concerned over and potentially catch a very big problem. Keep in mind even the best inspectors will not be able to find out anything and everything wrong with a house. Find out of they do mold and radon testing or not and if it is extra if they do. I would go ahead and do it. Keep this in mind, this is usually the largest financial transaction of your life so far. Do you want to be penny wise and dollar foolish on it?
#25: If you are military or a vet. Run away from supposedly veterans lenders like Veterans United and New Day (and more but those are two big ones) THEY SUCK. Even good places like USDAA (who does insurance well), Navy Fed, may do a lot of good for vets in other areas but are not the best in mortgages.
#26: As I will get to soon... brokers are better. This is true for insurance too. I see insurance quotes often and I personally did my own shopping where I shopped 10 carriers plus one insurance broker. The broker easily won out. Plus, the big carriers suck if you end up with a claim. I have a whole personal story about Allstate sucking big hairy monkey balls. On top of it all an agent at a large carrier has NO sway on anything on a claim. A broker actually does (as counter intuitive as that seems) because they can tell the insurer that if they don't do something right that he will not send that insurance company any more business. The captive agent has no choice.
#27: If you are in a rural area, check out a USDA loan. You can finance up to 100% but keep in mind, you actually might end up better served doing a FHA loan depending on specifics.
#28: Brokers are better. They weren't always... they use to be a pack of scumbags and slimballs who would screw over their own mothers for an extra 20 spot. Before 2008 I had plenty of chances to be a broker and would not even though I would have made 3 or 4 times more than I was making because again the vast majority were nastier than moldy dog poo with worms in it. That being said, even back then you could get a better deal from a broker IF you knew what you were doing and could protect yourself. Otherwise, you could get screwed so badly that it would make going to Quicken seem like a good deal. In fact, I actually used a broker on both of my home purchases even though at both times my wife and I worked at banks. That is right, when bankers want to do their loans- you know who they come to? Brokers. Things have changed and really the consumer advocates are now brokers and the things they use to do before that would screw people over are things that can not be done now. Not only are you going to get a better deal at a broker the vast majority of the time but you are also not going to get screwed over. Plus they have options that banks, credit unions and direct lenders don't have to get you approved if you have a harder to finance situation like a business owner, bad credit, recent major credit event (foreclosure, bankruptcy, etc) etc. Also, brokers can close quicker than other lenders on average. How do you find a broker? Well, you can ask me, I know brokers throughout the country. I have no problem connecting you to one (and if you are wondering, by regulation and the risk of losing my license, I can not get paid for referring you to a broker... it is purely out of help you out) or if you want you can check out www.findamortgagebroker.com oh... and if you are in Illinois, I can help you directly. (a few other states indirectly too)
#29: You are not locked in to a lender with a pre-approval. Unscrupulous lenders who tend to overcharge will have a lot of nasty little tricks that they do to keep you stuck with them. Fear is one of the big ones backed with lies. That fear will be to tell you that you can not change lenders once you have an offer accepted from a pre-approval or you can lose your earnest money. FALSE! Or that you will end up not being able to close on time with another lender (a favorite of retail loan officers to say about brokers when broker turn around times are actually quicker than retail). Your Loan Estimate is provided to assist you as the consumer to not only better understand the true costs of the loan but to be able to shop your loan around or the best options for you and then be able to compare them as close to apples to apples as possible. Don't let liars overcharging you win!
Hope this helps guys.
Best of luck.