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couple applying for home loanA home is most likely the most important investment that you will be making in your life, so it makes sense to take the time to find just the right loan officer for you and your family. Plus, finding a good loan officer usually also means finding a lender that has competitive mortgage rates and closing cost. Here are some steps to finding a loan officer who is experienced and who will give you the home buying experience you’re looking for.

Assess your needs.

Before looking for a loan officer who will be able to answer to your needs, it’s important to know what your needs as a home buyer are exactly. Ask yourself a few key questions:

Am I a first-time homebuyer?
Am I refinancing an existing home loan?
What does my credit score look like?
How much money can I put toward a down payment?
What kind of mortgage do I need? (FHA? Jumbo? Veteran Affairs? Conventional?)
What is my income?
What kind of income do I receive? Is it dictated by commission, freelance work, or bonuses?

Answering these questions will help you understand where you stand as a home buyer and will prepare you to discuss your mortgage with a loan officer. It can also help you find a loan officer who is experienced in handling your type of situation.

Interview them.

It’s perfectly appropriate to interview the person who might be underwriting or securing your mortgage before making a commitment to them. After all, you would interview your realtor before doing business with them, wouldn’t you? Ask your potential loan officer some key questions:

How long have you been a licensed mortgage loan officer?
How many FHA mortgages (or whichever type of mortgage you need) have you done?
What is your current processing time for this type of mortgage?
Will I be working with you throughout the process, or with a loan processor?
What is your fee? Can you explain all potential fees to me?
How many lenders do you deal with?
Do you have any special expertise (such as with VA loans)?
What is your NMLS ID number? (More on this in a moment.)

These questions should give you a good feel as to whether or not the loan officer is prepared to meet your needs. Beyond these questions, you should of course ask yourself how comfortable you feel with the loan officer, whether you are treated as a person or as a number, and how responsive the loan officer is to your questions and concerns.

Do some research.

It’s also a good idea to do some research on the loan officer you are considering working with, beyond what you gather from your interview. You can, for example, type a loan officer’s NMLS ID number into NMLS Consumer Access to look them up in the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. Then, you can see what their record shows or if there are any complaints listed. In addition, be sure to follow up with any references to ensure that the loan officer is a good fit for you.