As a mortgage loan originator, we all do it. We look at our existing mortgage company partner and wonder, “Am I in the best place to succeed”? The lending arena, even in big cities, can be pretty interconnected so it’s relatively easy to know who’s hiring and who’s not. Plus, you probably have friends and buddies who are MLOs. And of course, you keep an eye out on your competitors. It’s human nature to want to know if the grass is greener on the other side. Before you make a move, read on to discover what you need to find out about any potential partner.

If you’re considering switching companies, the first thing you should do is make a short list of the lenders you’d like to check out. Then, compare those to each other and your current company. Rather than looking at advertising about how each company is the top in their market, do some of your own research. Ask the people “in the know.”

Title Companies – are a wealth of information. If you have a favorite title company and escrow officer, that’s your first place to start. Ask, “How do their closings go?” Find out if the company you’re considering had any loans that fell out of escrow. You ask what type of loans they generally do or if they specialize in a particular niche. During the conversation jot down the names of any loan officers and look them up on Zillow. The more you can find out about a company and its staff, the better.

Realtors – ask any real estate agent about mortgage loan officers, and you’ll get an earful of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Initially, it’s good to let the realtor talk about their experiences with local lending, in general, to loosen up the conversation. Once you get their overall point of view, you can ask about a particular company. Find out if they’ve worked with any other mortgage partners you might not have thought of. You may be surprised by their answer. They could know local lenders you’re not familiar with that you should consider taking a look at.

Ask your realtor which companies offer strong pre-approvals to borrowers. That in itself is such a selling point for both buyers and realtors wanting to work with you.

Promotion & Marketing – this is a big one and probably should be heavily considered when checking out potential employers. The best way to find this out is to visit the websites of each prospective lender and see what you can find out. Sometimes it isn’t easy to tell at first so you might have to do a little searching – when in doubt check out the website sitemap under careers. It’s a good indication if the company provides professional branded and co-branded flyers. Some of the more media savvy lenders have whiteboard content and podcasts. Look at the lender’s website from a prospect’s point of view. Does it look modern and clean?

Is it easy to navigate? Do they offer personal websites for their LOs that highlight their expertise and help the prospect get to know them personally?

Along with promotion, see if the company is on the cutting edge of technology to make it easy for a borrower to apply online and upload their documents.

Turn over – find out how long the top employees have been with the company. Mortgage loan originators can be a bit transient, so a better indicator is to see how long the executive and administrative staff have been there. Often you can see from their profiles on the website. Another place to find out more is LinkedIn or the NMLS. The NMLS site shows how long loan originators have been with a specific company. A good source to see how well a company supports their MLO’s brand marketing is on their social media sites. Originators stay with companies that have and know how to market competitive programs like 100% financing with USDA loans and 14-day fast track programs.

One of the main reasons originators give for leaving a company is that their products aren’t competitive with other lenders and local banks. That is an important point. And if you live and work in the St. Louis, Missouri, Overland Park, Kansas, Godfrey or Glen Carbon, Illinois you’ll want the right mix of products to offer besides conventional and FHA. Having niche products like USDA & VA 100% financing, first time home buyer programs, reverse mortgages, and HELOCs can round out your pipeline and give you an even flow of closing loans no matter the market.

Compensation – of course, you’re going to want to know about the pay structure. But don’t fall into the same trap, “rate shoppers” do. You know the ones we’re talking about – all they care about is rate, and they don’t take into consideration everything else like the smoothness of transaction and the ability to close on time.

One of the significant variables in compensation is whether or not leads are provided. If they are, your chances of success are much higher. That is especially true if you’re new to an area – having leads to call could mean the difference between paying your bills or not.

Whether you’re currently doing a search of “MLO jobs near me” or just dipping your toe in the water, feel free to call George DeMare at Endeavor Capital Mortgage at 636-256-5903. We invest in our mortgage loan originators to help them build success and a strong income.