In the 1990’s everyone was crying about how evil lawyers and contractors are. Lawyer jokes were common tales told around cocktail tables and functions. At the turn of the decade, mortgage brokers were added to the list and they too are under a lot of scrutiny and the pun of many jokes.
Are mortgage brokers evil? The answer is simple no. Are there shady mortgage brokers that will try to con you out of your hard earned money? Off course! Every profession has bad apples! Are these bad apples the majority? No, let’s discuss why.
1) Mortgage brokers want your business – Most mortgage brokers work on commission and rely heavily on word of mouth advertising to generate clients. Furthermore, 50% of a good mortgage brokers business is repeat customers; mortgage brokers have an incentive to service their customers properly and keep them in the long haul.
2) The competition keeps them honest – Given the influx of many new mortgage brokers in the last couple of years, the mortgage business is a very competitive field. There are a large number of brokers competing for a small base of customers. Brokers will almost always give you their best rate in order not to loose your business. Remember, brokers don’t get paid until they fund the loan. This is also a good reason to speak to at least four different brokers from different companies, let them compete for your loan and you will almost always shine at the end.
3) The law is there to protect you – God bless America! We have many laws in this country that govern mortgage brokers and let me tell you that the lending laws are not very forgiving in this country. Mortgage brokers will take a lot of heat when they do shady deals and all it takes is one simple complaint. Make sure you get everything in writing from your broker and you will be protected, simply as that.
The Bad about Mortgage Brokers
Mortgage brokers do not fund your loan themselves; they use wholesale lender and banks to find you the right loan and save you money. The problem arises in how they are compensated. Wholesale lenders do not set interest rates, nor do the brokers. The going interest is dictated by the secondary mortgage securities market. How rates are dictated is a discussion by itself, which is unimportant in our discussion.
Lets simple assume the going “par rate” for a 30 year fixed mortgage is 6%. If the mortgage broker funds your loan at 6% the mortgage broker makes zero in commissions. The higher the interest rate they close your loan with, the more commission they receive. Moreover, if they charge you an interest rate below 6%, they have to pay money out of their own pocket to fund the loan, or charge the client what is called a “discount point” to get the rate they want. Luckily the law has a cap on how much of a commission a broker can make on a particular loan. Nonetheless, your goal should be to lower the interest rate as much as possible.
What is the lesson to be learned here, when mortgage brokers quote you a rate, they have room to lower it; unless they gave you par pricing, which is not likely. Given our example above a broker might quote you 6.5%, where the broker makes $2,000.00. If you are a good negotiator you can get the broker to lower the interest rate, where the broker only makes a $1,000.00 on the deal, you will save big bucks!
Be Careful Of the Fees
By law, a mortgage broker is permitted to charge you a fee for finding you the right loan. When negotiating, don’t neglect these fees. Find out what they are and make sure you talk to them about it. Fees are negotiable; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The thing to ask yourself for when looking at fees is, what am I paying this fee for, is it for an appraisal, notary service, processing etc? Is the fee there because something must be done to fund the loan and is nessesary or is the broker just trying to make some money off of me? Remember, the broker makes his money on the interest rate spread between what he charged you and what the “par rate” is. Fees outside of that are considered “Junk Fees” and should be avoided if possible. If the broker, charged you a super low rate, give him a little, they need to make money somewhere.
Pounding Your Mortgage Broker
To successfully get the best rate on your loan with a broker, keep in mind that the broker needs to make a living. If you grind them too much, chances are they will not take you seriously and simply not want to do the loan. Be reasonable, let the broker make money off of your loan and they will work hard to get you the lowest rate. The broker can go back to the wholesale lender and grind them for a lower rate, but if there is no money in it for the broker, there is no incentive.
What I suggest is to speak to a couple of different brokers and let them compete. This has been a very daunting task up until recently; luckily there are many good mortgage lender website online that will analyze your needs and match you up with four of the best lenders according to your situation. What would take days to do flipping through the yellow pages now takes 60 seconds online.