Questions to ask mortgage lenders

Man talking on phone to mortgage lender about his new home
June 20, 2019 | Maggie Tomasek

As the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. When it’s comes time to buy your home, you’re going to have a ton of mortgage questions.

Once you’ve shopped around for mortgage rate quotes, you’re ready to take the next step and get prequalified or preapproved. While you can do a lot of online research, one of the best ways to help you choose a mortgage lender and work your way through the entire homebuying process is to actually speak to your mortgage loan officer or mortgage broker.

So, what questions do you ask your mortgage lender? We consulted with Alliant’s mortgage experts to put together this list of mortgage questions for each step of your homebuying journey.

Questions to ask mortgage lenders during prequalification/preapproval

This likely is one of the largest financial decisions you’ll make, so while interest rates and costs are important, they shouldn’t be the only factor in deciding on a mortgage lender.

  • How long is the prequalification/preapproval good for? Preapprovals have a limited shelf life, so your preapproval could expire before you even find your new home.
  • What do you need to do if you want to change your loan amount or loan terms? After doing additional research and starting to look at homes, you may find that an adjustable rate mortgage is the better option or that your initial home price range was a little too high and need to make changes.
  • How often do their rates change? It’s common for rates to fluctuate slightly from day to day, but those fluctuations could affect your final rate.
  • What is the best way to contact them? You’ll want to be sure you can get in touch with your mortgage lender because you’re going to continue to have mortgage questions as you get closer to closing on your dream home.
  • Do they need your real estate agent’s information? What if you don’t have an agent yet? Some mortgage lenders might be able to recommend a real estate agent. For example, the Alliant Home Rewards Program can match you with a real estate agent in your area.
  • What is the biggest mistake they see buyers making during the mortgage process? Asking an expert can help you avoid any pitfalls.
  • Why should you do business with them compared to other loan officers? What separates their organization from others? Finding a great rate is important, but this is also time for you to actually get to know this mortgage lender and decide if they’re the right fit.

Once you have spoken to the mortgage lender, do a Google search to learn more about the loan officer and the organization. Think about whether the conversation felt right and if you felt comfortable speaking to them. Did they answer all of your mortgage questions? Did they push you to make a decision to apply before you felt ready and well-informed?

Questions to ask mortgage lenders during application and underwriting process

The application and underwriting processes can be nerve-racking, and one way to help make them less stressful is to ask tons of questions so you know exactly what to expect. Ask your mortgage officer about their specific process to ensure a timely and smooth closing.

  • What documentation do you need to provide? With any mortgage comes a ton of paperwork and information you need to supply. Find out exactly what you need so you can pull it together and avoid any hiccups down the road.
  • What are the next steps in the process after you apply? The application is just one of many steps, and you’ll want to know exactly what to expect and when.
  • How often will they contact you with updates about your mortgage? Effective and frequent communication is one key to a great mortgage lender.
  • Will they be your main contact during the processing of your loan application and underwriting? There are many people working behind the scenes on every mortgage, so you’ll want to make sure you know who to go to with any mortgage questions that come up.
  • What do you need to do to make sure this process goes as quickly and smoothly as possible? Similar to knowing what documentation you need to provide, knowing upfront what you can do to move things along will help you feel confident and in control.
  • Where and how do you send in information during processing and underwriting of your loan? There could be a different contact or destination during underwriting vs. the application process, so you’ll want to make sure that’s clear.
  • How is appraisal ordered and who pays for it? Every lender has a slightly different process.

Questions to ask mortgage lenders at closing and beyond

You’re almost in your dream home, so now it’s about the fine details to wrap up closing and ask a few final but vital mortgage questions.

  • Where does the closing take place?
  • What do you need to bring to closing? In addition to a well-rested hand for signing a stack of documents, you’ll need things like a photo ID and proof of insurance.
  • When will you know the exact amount of money you need to bring to closing? Do you have to wire that amount somewhere, or can you bring a cashier’s check? Each situation is different, so you’ll want to know your options.
  • When will your first payment be due? How do you know where to send payment? Often, your first mortgage payment won’t come due until two months after closing. And if you’re working with a mortgage broker instead of directly with a mortgage lender, you might not even know exactly which company your mortgage will be with. Find out how you’ll be receiving your statements and any other information from your lender.
  • Do they sell the mortgage loans after they close? Some lenders will sell off mortgages to different companies, so you could wind up making payments to a different lender altogether.
  • Will you get a survey to provide feedback on their entire process? If your lender doesn’t provide an official customer satisfaction survey, you can still send them your feedback, both good and bad. This information is valuable for lenders to see where they can make improvements, and it also helps you document what you did and didn’t like for when it’s time to get your next mortgage.

Maggie Tomasek is the PR & Content Strategist at Alliant. She began her career as a journalist for newspapers in Utica, N.Y., Des Moines and Cincinnati before moving to Chicago in 2009. Maggie is an eight-time Chicago Marathon finisher and a lifelong creative writer with a passion for comedy. Her mom instilled in her a great sense of fiscal responsibility, and her big sister told her to throw that responsibility out the window every once in a while in the name of life experience. So far, that combination of financial advice has worked out pretty well for her.

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