What do you know about your Mortgage Loan Officer?

What do you know about your Mortgage Loan Officer?

All Mortgage Loan Officers are required to register with the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) & Registry. The Registry assigns each Loan Officer a unique identifier number that stays with them throughout their career. Using this number you can review professional background information for a Loan Officer through the NMLS database prior to doing business with them.

The display of an NMLS number tends to lead most people to believe all Loan Officers are licensed. This is far from the true. Only about 20% of Loan Officers are actually licensed, the rest are simple registered.

Licensed Loan Officers are required to have pre-employment mortgage education, must pass criminal background checks, must pass a difficult Federal Licensing test, must pass a difficult State Licensing test in EACH state they wish to do business, and must complete yearly continuing education requirements.

Simply registered Loan Officers could have been flipping burgers last week, and doing Loans today. While their employer may have some sort of internal hiring and training system, there are no mandatory state or federal licensing requirements, and no educational requirements.

Now I am not saying that simply registered Loan Officers are bad people, but when you are working on the largest financial transaction of the average persons life, who would you prefer? Licensed or unlicensed? Another way to look at it is to assume you are sick. Sure, you can go online to WebMD, self-diagnose your illness, go to the pharmacy, buy a scalpel, and attempt self surgery. Or you can go to the Doctor.

So how do you verify if a Loan Officer is Licensed or simply Registered? It only takes minute to find out.

  1. Simply go to www.NMLSConsumerAccess.org.
  2. Enter the Loan Officers Name, or their NMLS #
  3. Click on their name

Scroll to the bottom of the page.

  • If it says STATE LICENSES/REGISTRATIONS, then lists one or more States – They ARE A LICENSED Loan Officer
  • If it says FEDERAL REGISTRATION, then says Federal Mortgage Loan Originator – They ARE NOT LICENSED.

Licensed or simply registered? I think the choice is clear for smart homeowners.

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There are differences in Loan Officer qualifications. Know how to tell who you are working with

Is your Loan Officer Licensed, or simply registered? There is a BIG difference YOU need to understand

Recent changes to the lending industry requires all loan officers to have a tracking number, known as an NMLS number (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry). It should be displayed on their business cards, E-Mail, web sites, all correspondence, and most loan documents.

The display of the NMLS number may make many believe the Loan Officer is licensed. Sadly, this isn’t true, and working with an unlicensed, untrained Loan Officer can cause you many headaches and hassles.

Simply put, Loan Officers at Banks, most Credit Unions, or Mortgage Companies owned by a bank are NOT REQUIRED to be licensed, take classes, pass any tests, take continuing education, or pass any state or federally mandated tests to be a Loan Officer!

CHECK YOUR LOAN OFFICER OUT on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry at http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org

My NMLS # is 274132

It is hard to determine if the Loan Officer is simply registered, versus licensed. When looking up a loan officer, you have to go to the bottom of their NMLS identification page and look under State Licenses/Registrations or Federal Registrationheading.

  • A LICENSED Loan Officer will say “State Licenses/Registrations” and will have one or more STATES listed with licensing information.
  • An UNLICENSED, but simply REGISTERED Loan Officer will say “Federal Registration” and the something like Federal Mortgage Loan Originator.

Who is Best? Banks, Brokers, or Direct Mortgage Lenders?

Now I am not trying to make this into a David versus Goliath story, but I am trying to emphasize the huge differences between Loan Officer training. As the new requirements have been rolling out across the country, many Loan Officers who have been unable to meet the new licensing and testing requirements, and especially those who have failed the new tests, have simply gone to the large banks to work.

Calling “1-800-Big-Bank” to get a loan??? YIKES. Here is a chart to show the differences:

SAFE ACT Loan Officers
(MLO’s)
Bank Loan Officers (RMLO’s)
Have Personal License Yes No
Registered in NMLS Yes Yes
FBI Background Yes No
Fingerprinted Yes No
Surety Bonded Yes No
Pre-Employment education Yes No
8 hours continuing education each year Yes No
Personal Credit checked Yes No
Pass Tough State Test Yes No
Pass Tough Federal Test Yes No
Complaint mechanism’s Yes No
Licensing fees and renewals Yes No
Loan Officer Designation MLO RMLO
NMLS = Nationwide Mortgage Lender System and Registry (Tracking Number)
MLO = Mortgage Loan Officer (Licensed and Trained)
RMLO = Registered Mortgage Loan Officer (simply registered)

I think the choice is clear. Who would YOU rather be working with on the largest financial transaction of your life? A fully trained, licensed, fingerprinted, and background checked Loan Officer – or the untrained, unlicensed, and simply registered Loan Officer at the bank?

The funny part is the cost for the service based on rates and fees are usually about the same, if not slightly cheaper in both rate and costs. Plus non-bank lenders usually close the loans faster, and have more knowledgeable and experienced Loan Officers.

The best S.A.F.E. ACT Loan Officer (non-Bank) analogy I can use is having a choice of working with an experienced CPA to do your taxes vs. you using Turbo Tax to do it yourself, but paying the same price.

Finally, THIS IS A CLEAR REASON why people should follow my #1 mortgage shopping rule: GOOGLE THE NAME OF YOUR LOAN OFFICER before allowing them to handle the largest financial transaction of your life!


Don’t risk losing your Real Estate License

STOP risking your real estate license

Do you unintentionally give legal advice to your clients? Most real estate agents are very aware, and try to stay clear of giving any legal advice. Unfortunately, there are plenty of agents who have crossed that line, and are now facing plenty of headaches and lawsuits.

Have you ever instructed a client to stop paying their mortgage? You’ve given legal advice.

Legal advice is one thing… and rightfully most agents successfully avoid putting themselves in trouble, yet everyday they violate RESPA and the Truth in Lending (TILA) laws by giving mortgage advice.

Yes, mortgage advice. Punishable by a $10,000 fine and jail time!

If you have ever directed a client to a specific mortgage program? Maybe a program offered from “your guy” versus a program from another lender because you simply want to work with your guy versus the unknown loan officer??? Then you are walking a very dangerous line.

Have you ever given mortgage advice simply because you believe you are looking out for the customers best interests? Again, you are walking a fine line.

I have a mortgage originators license. I work 50 hours a week, and have for the last 17-years taking full applications, properly analyzing the clients financial situation, and directing them to the product that I believe best fits them. Even with that, a client can sue me for “putting them in the wrong loan.” You don’t have a mortgage license, and spend most of your time helping people buy and sell homes. Ask yourself. Do you really have any business giving mortgage advice?

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, (RESPA) was enacted to help protect consumers when they buy and sell real estate, and to teach them to be better shoppers.

Prohibited practices for agents include many items. One of the most commonly violated section involves “shared expenses”. RESPA does not prevent joint advertising between two settlement service providers, such as a mortgage company and a real estate broker advertising their services on the same brochure or newspaper ad. However, each advertising party must pay for his share on a proportionate basis.

Another common violation has to deal kickbacks. Kickbacks of any kind are prohibited. Even small promotional items with the agent’s name on them can be considered a thing of value for the referral of business as it offsets the agent’s marketing expenses.

My advice? Learn the phrases “consult a lawyer”, and “consult a licensed mortgage professional” to avoid risking a legal headache and your license.

For more information regarding the Act, you can find it in Title I of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. The act is enforced by the Federal Reserve Board via Regulation Z (12 C.F.R. Part 226).