Begin by getting specific recommendations not just for mortgage lenders, but also for a specific loan officer. Talk with family members or co-workers or with a real estate broker who you have some level of confidence in. The latter is probably your best source. Real estate brokers have repeated experience with many loan officers. They know which ones know what they’re doing and do a good job time after time. While your interests and that of your real estate broker may be at odds in many contexts, you both have a vested interest in your working with a first rate loan officer and with a mortgage company that does the job right.Meet with that local loan officer and tell them everything you know about your financial situation and your plans for the property and the loan. Work through the options and decide on one or two loan programs that seem to make sense.Get a Good Faith Estimate from that loan officer. This is a standardized written statement outlining the fees that will be charged by the lender and by the title company. Ask the lender to specify which of these are lender fees and which are title company fees, fee that the lender really has no control over.Once you know what loan program or programs you’re likely to use, and once you know what the lender fees are for each program, call your loan officer and ask what the interest rates for those programs would be if you locked today. Then call several other loan officers who someone has recommended to you and ask them for their rates on those programs and for a Good Faith Estimate of fees. Make sure you get all these rates on the same day or your comparison will be meaningless, since rates will change on a daily basis. Compare rates and lender fees to verify that your lender’s rates and fees are competitive. You may even be able to use the competitive bids to try to negotiate lower fees with your lender.
Assuming the mortgage lender you started with is competitive on rates and fees, complete the loan application process and stick through the rest of the transaction unless you have serious reasons to do otherwise.