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What makes a great loan officer?

CAKE! Communication--Ability--Knowledge--Experience

Working with a great loan officer is far more important than the choice of a lender and will determine if your home loan experience is smooth sailing or a gigantic hassle. A loan officer who lacks any of these CAKE qualities has a greater chance of keeping you poorly informed as well as a tendency to make mistakes that cost you time, stress and money.

Communication skills

The mortgage process is a mystery to most people since at most, they only experience it every few years. And let's face it, getting a home loan is not a ton of fun--it's more a dentist style experience where the process is endured to get to the result.

That's why top notch communication from your chosen loan officer at the beginning and throughout the process will alleviate much of the stress and hassle most home buyers experience. The skill of great communication is the most common of all these loan officer traits--in fact most have good communication skills. Whether they put forth the effort to keep you well informed and possess the integrity to put your needs first is the question -and one that will determine your satisfaction with the loan process. Your first communication with a loan officer will be very revealing. If that first encounter is a confusing mish-mash to you-- without patient, fully explained details --I would look for a different loan officer. Your first impression is almost always accurate--and that will determine your satisfaction throughout the process.

You always have a choice as a consumer, and no one deserves to be in the dark on one of your biggest financial decisions. Demand clear concise numbers and answers to questions--or find another loan officer!


This is less common- with about half of active loan officers lacking true ability. Ability is part experience, along with the hard work behind the scenes to gain deep knowledge and the unique traits of a quick processing, analytical mind. A running joke in the lending biz is the best loan officers never stop thinking and aren't happy unless they're juggling a dozen tasks at once.


Deep knowledge is developed over time while experiencing lots of different loan scenarios --especially overcoming complex problems and unique deal killer issues. Putting forth the effort to stay on top of ever changing loan guidelines loan officers need to be aware of is vital.


I remember way back to my first days as a loan officer, struggling to understand how everything fit together and what to do to make sure loans didn't fall apart. When I was stumped or felt like I failed, I would devour loan guidelines for hours and study every aspect of what happened well after quitting time--to make sure I never made that same mistake again. I repeated this process for my first year plus--of studying failures or just being frustrated I didn't have a deep knowledge about something -and then I started to notice how much easier it was to solve problems and explain solutions to my customers and co-workers.

I had become a loan nerd, a student of the loan industry, soaking up and learning everything I could. I also realized that many long time loan officers in that first company I worked at did not share my passion and looked to others to solve problems since they lacked that capacity themselves. I realized back then that years of experience means nothing if you don't put forth the effort to absorb and learn as much as you can --with the goal to be as good as you can possibly be.

Decades later, having owned my own company and managed and trained hundreds of loan officers--when I look back, only a handful of these hundreds of loan officers could do it all and were truly very good--maybe 10%. Most, 50-60%, were average at best, making mistakes and needing co-workers to assist in solving problems to get loans to closing. And a third or so, were not and never would be any good in the loan biz.

So to sum it all up--you have a choice on the loan officer who assists you when buying that new home or on your money saving refinance. Ask lots of questions, demand detailed answers--and Choose wisely!

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