A mortgage broker’s job is to help you find the best mortgage rate, terms and conditions for your mortgage. And what’s even better is they get paid by the lender, not by you.
When searching for a broker, it’s always a good idea to start with a recommendation. Friends and family are usually happy to refer you to the brokers that they used to secure their mortgage, or if you already know a real estate agent, they’re usually able to set you up with a broker before you start looking for property. If you’re starting your search from scratch, however, not to worry. You can fill out the form on the right of this page to find a mortgage broker near you who will secure the best mortgage rate available.
Many brokers are independent, but there are also a large number who belong to various groups such a franchises, broker networks, or so-called “super-broker groups”. Broker networks are the companies that mortgage brokers work under, and brokers working as part of one of these operations use a brand name and are sometimes able to get bonuses or increased commissions from lenders that offer incentives for companies that sell large volumes of their loans.
Once you’ve found a few brokers, you’ll want to meet them and have a discussion about your needs. There are a few things that you’ll want to know about any prospective mortgage broke to determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for you.
Questions to ask your prospective mortgage broker:
- How do you get paid?
Like with any professional service, there are people who are looking out for your best interests and people who are looking out for their own best interests. Brokers are generally paid close to the same amount by every lender, so they shouldn’t be biased when helping you, some lenders do offer bonuses or special incentives for brokers or offices that give them more than a certain amount of business. Lenders may also pay a higher rate to brokers who sign clients to a longer term. You’ll want to understand why your broker is recommending particular mortgages for you and whether or not the options make a difference when it comes to how much your broker gets paid.
- What types of mortgages do you specialize in?
A seasoned mortgage broker will probably have experience with clients with a wide range of financial situations, and will also have worked with a variety of lenders in order to accommodate the needs of these clients. Even so, you might want to dig a little bit deeper if your situation is anything but straightforward, such as being self-employed, buying a property for your investment portfolio, or having a non-traditional source of income. This is especially true if you think you may need private funding
, as private lenders tend to be a little more loosely regulated. You want to make sure that your broker is well-versed with the kind of mortgage that you’re going to need and the type of lenders who will be able to provide you with that mortgage.
- How long have you been in the business?
Longer doesn’t always equal better, and there are plenty of brokers who have been in the business for a short period of time and have better contacts and relationships with clients and lenders than brokers who have been in the business for decades. Still, the longer you’re in any business, the more experience you have, and the mortgage industry is no different. A broker who has worked with a significant volume of deals over the years knows the hiccups that may (and inevitable will) arise, as well as the easiest ways to resolve them.
- How accessible are you?
Whether or not your broker is working independently or within a larger broker network, they will often be accessible outside of the standard workday hours. This is especially important during the final mortgage approval process, when lenders may require documents with little notice. If, for example, a lender tells your broker that they need a certain document from you before noon the next day but your broker doesn’t check email after 5 p.m. and you only get the message the morning of the deadline, your financing could be in jeopardy if you can’t get the document in time. Ask that your broker will be able to answer an email, phone call, or text anytime during your process, and relay information to you in a timely manner.
- May I have some references?
If you found a mortgage broker through our search as opposed to through a family member or friend, you’ll still want to get some references. Your broker may tell you that they close a high volume of deals each year, but when you talk to former clients, you may find out that they felt pressured into a particular mortgage product, or that the fees associated with their mortgage wasn’t explained very clearly, or that their broker went away for a couple of days during the pre-approval process
without telling them. A good question to ask a reference is whether or not they would recommend their broker to other people after their mortgage experience. If the answer is no, then your search should continue.
- How many lenders do you use?
Mortgage brokers will have a panel or list of mortgage lenders that they regularly use or have access to. More mortgage lenders means more choice, but remember that quantity isn’t everything – a good broker may well whittle the available list down to which ones they know have the best rates, the lowest fees, the most competent services, and the quickest turnaround times. Just because they have access to scores of different lenders doesn’t mean that they need to compare all of them for each mortgage application, but you still want to know that your broker has relationships with several different kinds of lenders such as banks, monoline lenders, credit unions, and private lenders in order to get competitive mortgage rates and terms.
- Do I feel comfortable with this broker?
The process of getting a mortgage can be complicated. Not only do you want to work with a professional who is competent at and well-versed in everything mortgage-related, but you also want to feel comfortable forking over and discussing all of your financial information, and asking your broker any questions that you have during the process. This is true whether you’re new to the process or if you’re renewing or refinancing your mortgage. Each mortgage product is different and each lender has different rules, so you can’t be expected to know the ins and outs of each product. Your financial goals are also important to the process, and a good broker will ask you about your short-term and long-term financial goals, and get a mortgage that best fits your needs. If something about a broker rubs you the wrong way, then don’t use him/her. Trust yourself and your sense of character.
One last note: Mortgage brokers are required to be licensed in the province(s) in which they’re securing mortgages for their clients. This licensing comes after a series of courses and exams that ensure the broker has the appropriate education necessary. You want to choose a broker who is licensed where you are buying your property.