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It used to be that lenders mailed out verifications to employers, banks, mortgage companies, and so on, in order to verify the data supplied by borrowers. Nowadays, things move faster. "Alternate documentation" has become more widely used. Alternate documentation means that underwriting answers can be obtained with information supplied directly from the borrower instead of waiting around for verifications to come back in the mail. The following page lists the items you will most likely need to speed the processing of your home loan. Items may differ according to whether your loan is a confoming (Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac), non-conforming (jumbo) loan, government loan, or a portfolio loan. Verifications are still mailed out, but usually as part of quality control procedures. If you talk to a loan officer, he (or she) will probably say the lender they work for is "the best" and give you a list of reasons why. If you meet the same loan officer years later and he works for a different kind of lender, he will give you a list of reasons why that type of lender is better.

Realtors have differing opinions and, as a group, their opinions have changed over time. In the past, most would often recommend portfolio lenders - because they almost always closed the deal. As time passed, mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers became more important, and agents switched along with the changing times. Most often a Realtor will direct you to a specific loan officer who has demonstrated a track record of service and reliability -- or a loan officer who works for a lender affiliated with their real estate office. It is often more important to choose a good loan officer, not the institution. Loan officers have two jobs. One is to be your advocate in getting the loan approved. The other is to deliver quality loans. You want someone who has proven dependable and ethical in the past -- someone you can trust. As for lending institutions, each type of lender has strengths and weaknesses. Quality within each branch or office can vary, depending on the loan officer, the support staff, and a variety of other factors.

Types of Mortgage Lenders
It used to be fairly easy to put a term to a lender that accurately described them and the types of mortgages they originated. Time, the S&L problems of the late eighties, and a maturing marketplace have served to "blend" those differences. Some old adjectives barely apply now and are rarely used.

Mortgage Bankers-A true Mortgage Banker is a lender that is large enough to originate loans and create pools of loans which they sell directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae, jumbo loan investors, and others. Any company that does this is considered to be a mortgage banker. They can very greatly in size. Some may service the loans they originate, but not all of them will. Most true mortgage bankers have wholesale lending divisions. Examples of two of the largest mortgage bankers are Countrywide Home Loans and Wells Fargo Mortgage. One is associated with a bank and the other is not, but both are most correctly classified as mortgage bankers. A lot of companies call themselves mortgage bankers and some deserve the title. For others, it is mostly marketing.

Mortgage Brokers-Mortgage Brokers are companies that originate loans with the intention of brokering them to wholesale lending institutions. A broker has established relationships with these companies. Underwriting and funding takes place at the wholesale lender. Many mortgage brokers are also correspondents, which is why many of them also claim to be mortgage bankers. Mortgage brokers deal with lending institutions that have a wholesale loan department.

Wholesale Lenders-Most mortgage bankers and portfolio lenders also act as wholesale lenders, catering to mortgage brokers for loan origination. Some wholesale lenders do not even have their own retail branches, relying solely on mortgage brokers for their loans. These wholesale divisions offer loans to mortgage brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. The mortgage broker then adds on his fee. The result for the borrower is that the loan costs about the same as if he obtained a loan directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.

In fact, mortgage servicing is where lenders make the real money. The entire system of originating mortgages, including wholesale lenders, mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers is designed so that servicers get loans into their portfolio -- hopefully at a "break even" level -- but often at a loss. Mortgage servicing is where they make their profit.

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