Whether you're looking for your first home loan or you're one of those super-savvy serial refinancers who have been through the process many times, you still have the same problem: How do you source the best mortgage deal possible for you today? There isn't a simple answer to that, but exploring your options might save you some serious sums.
True, some mortgage lenders are generally better than others, but the one that's going to meet your particular needs best isn't necessarily among the list of usual suspects. So how do you find the sweetest deal for you? Well, there are a number of different routes, but basically you can:
Roughly speaking, those are probably listed in the order you should go. But here's a radical idea: Try them all.
This is likely to be one of the biggest transactions you will make in your life, so unless you can afford to pass up potential savings, shop for your loan. Making it clear to your loan officer or broker up front that you're shopping puts them on notice to bring their best deal if they want to earn your business -- and it avoids any embarrassment over turning down an offer that's not in your best interest.
Loan officers and mortgage brokers are professionals who understand theirs is a numbers game, and they expect that many of the inquiries they field won't be money-makers. Remembering who will be making the monthly payments can help you stay true to making your numbers work too. Be especially wary of some mortgage brokers, though. If you end up talking to a broker who won't tell you precisely how he or she gets paid, walk away.
Clearly, basing your financial future on the opinions of one economist may be unwise, but speaking of the famed "fiscal cliff," Mike Fratantoni of the Mortgage Bankers Association warned that any major delays would likely lead to a spike in interest rates. So if you have been putting off buying a home -- or refinancing for the first or nth time -- betting that current mortgage rates will remain low indefinitely, you may want to rethink. And if you do, finding your own "best" mortgage lender may be your smartest move.