Is your Loan Officer State Licensed, or simply Registered, and how can you tell?
You are about to do the largest financial transaction of your life, a home mortgage loan. What do you know about the person handling it, the Loan Officer? For most people, the answer is basically nothing, and that should scare you. Many people assume the person answering the phone is a licensed Loan officers, but this simply isn’t true the vast majority of the time.
While all companies offering mortgage loans must have a license, until the passage of the SAFE ACT in 2008 in response to the housing industry collapse, few Loan Officers had a personal license. This wasn’t generally a huge problem until the real estate boom began in earnest around 2000, when it seems like everyone was a home builder, a Real Estate Agent, or a Loan Officer with zero schooling, training or experience. As we all know, lots of these people ended up creating a a huge mess in their wake.
With the passage of the SAFE ACT, Congress took steps to tighten licensing and training requirements for Loan Officers. All can agree, this was a great step in the right direction. Unfortunately, Congress blew it by only requiring a small portion of Loan Officers needing to meet the strict new law requirements.
Differences in Loan Officers
Under current rules, Loan Officers at banks, credit unions, or mortgage companies owned by these entities are NOT REQUIRED to have a personal license. Rather, they simply have to register in the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing and Registry System.
Loan Officers at non-depository lenders, like brokers and non-bank mortgage companies are REQUIRED to have a personal license.
How To Check Out Your Loan Officer
Doing a little research on your Loan Officer is rather simple, with these two steps:
- Go to NMLSConsumerAccess.org
- Do an Internet Name Search
- Your gut feeling
On the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry web site, you are able to enter the Loan Officers name. The system will tell you how long they’ve been a Loan Officer, what company they are OK’d to work for, any disciplinary action, and if they are personally licensed, or simply registered.
Here is a screenshot of my personal NMLS record, which shows I am a Licensed Loan Officer in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.
Here is the bottom part screenshot of a Loan Officer who is simply registered. You’ll notice it says Federal National Loan Officer instead of listing states they are licensed in.
Next, Do an Internet name search in your favorite search engine.
Do you get any hits? What are they? What do you see? Nothing? One link to a company web site? Multiple hits on multiple sites?
Does the Loan Officer appear to be highly respected and quoted with lots of links? A great blog with great informational posts? Probably a good sign of a professional. Can’t find anything, or maybe just a listing on the company web site? Probably not a comforting sign.
Finally, trust your gut feeling.
While being simply Registered doesn’t make someone bad, and being Licensed doesn’t make someone good, it does help you understand more about who you are working with.
If you see they are simply registered, and have been a Loan Officer for six months, that probably wouldn’t be who I would pick to handle my largest financial transaction. Especially as I think back over 20-years ago when I started as a Loan Officer. I didn’t know anything, and it took years to gain the needed experience.
If they’ve been a Loan Officer for 10-years, but have been at 10 different companies, you should ask why? Keep getting fired?
On the other hand, regardless if they are registered or licensed, do they seem knowledgeable. Do they seem to have your best interest in mind? Do they return e-mails and phone calls in a timely manner?
Personally I think the choice is clear.
Who would you rather have working on your largest financial transaction. A Loan Officer with a licensed they must maintain or risk losing it, with years of experience, or someone who is simply registered or new?
While true Loan Officers at banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies owned by banks and credit unions are NOT required to have a personal license, and many will tell you if you ask about their background how they are not required to have a license. Understand there is nothing preventing them from obtaining one. My opinion is if they really are professionals, prove their dedication to the industry by obtaining a personal license and giving the client a level of comfort.
If you are buying a home or refinancing a home in Minnesota, Wisconsin, or South Dakota, and you’d like me to handle your home loan, call me at (651) 552-3681 or just click on this link to Apply Online.