Is your Loan Officer State Licensed, or simply Registered?

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.

Loan Officer License

 

How To Check Out Your Loan Officer

Doing a little research on your Loan Officer is rather simple, with these two steps:

  1. Go to NMLSConsumerAccess.org
  2. Do an Internet Name Search
  3. 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.

 

 


Wells Fargo and B of A top in complaints

St Paul, MN:  This isn’t shocking news to us, but it looks like the big banks, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, top the list of consumer complaints – especially for mortgages.

Read the story from the Washington Business Journal at http://tinyurl.com/ljs3csh 

You can avoid a lot of the problems if you understand who you are working with. Always work with an experienced, professional loan officer. The largest financial transaction of your life is far too important to place into the hands of someone who just quotes rates, but is not capable of advising you properly and troubleshooting the issues that may arise along the way. But how can you tell?

80% of Loan Officers are NOT Licensed

CHECK YOUR LOAN OFFICER OUT on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry 

http://www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org

Bank Loan Officers (Registered) versus SAFE ACT (Licensed) Loan Officers?
There is a BIG difference YOU need to understand

Washington has been busy protecting consumers from bad lenders right? Wrong! They have only done half the job, and sadly, the general perception by the public as to who is the better lender choice is completely wrong. Most people feel the brokers and the non-bank mortgage lenders have created all the problems. This isn’t true. Just the opposite. Consider the fact that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and banks make the rules, and the banks review, underwrite, and fund the loans for brokers.

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 incorrectly make consumers believe the Loan Officer is licensed. Only 20% of Loan Officers are licensed. The rest are simply registered. Working with an unlicensed, untrained Loan Officer is not in a consumers best interest.

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

It is hard to determine if the Loan Officer is simply registered, versus licensed. nmls_checkWhen 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 Registration heading.

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

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 and education.  Look at it a different way. If you are sick and go to the Doctors office. Do you want to be treated by the receptionist, or the Doctor?


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!


Shopping for a Mortgage Lender. Inside scoop on how to choose one

Shopping Around For A Mortgage Lender?

Here is THE INSIDE SCOOP on how to IDENTIFY A PROFESSIONAL MORTGAGE LENDER, BROKER, and LOAN OFFICER

HERE ARE FOUR SIMPLE QUESTIONS your Loan Officer absolutely MUST be able to answer CORRECTLY. IF THEY DO NOT KNOW THE ANSWERS RUN, DON’T WALK RUN TO A LENDER THAT DOES!

1) What are mortgage interest rates based on? (The only correct answer is Mortgage Backed Securities or Mortgage Bonds, NOT the 10-year Treasury Note. While the 10-year Treasury Note sometimes trends in the same direction as Mortgage Bonds, it is not unusual to see them move in completely opposite directions. DO NOT work with a lender who has their eyes on the wrong indicators.)

2) What is the next Economic Report or event that could cause interest rate movement? (A professional lender will have this at their fingertips. For an up-to-date calendar of weekly economic reports and events that may cause rates to fluctuate.

3) When the Fed “changes rates”, what does this mean and what impact does this have on mortgage interest rates? (The answer may surprise you. When the Fed makes a move, they are changing a rate called the “Fed Funds Rate”. This is a very short-term rate that impacts credit cards, credit lines, auto loans and the like. Mortgage rates most often will actually move in the opposite direction as the Fed change, due to the dynamics within the financial markets. For more information and explanation, just give us a call)

4) What is happening in the market today and what do you see in the near future? (If a lender cannot explain how Mortgage Bonds and interest rates are moving at the present time, as well as what is coming up in the near future, you are talking with someone who is still reading last week’s newspaper, and probably not a professional with whom to entrust your home mortgage financing.)

One additional important aspect, is also understanding that not all Loan Officers are licensed. Be sure to only work with a licensed professional. You can verify a Loan Officer has a license by going to www.NMLSconsumerAccess.org

Be Smart… Ask Questions, and Get Answers!

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(C) 2011 – Joe Metzler – Mortgages Unlimited, St Paul, MN #274132.