Searching for an exciting new career in the residential mortgage space? Become a mortgage loan officer (MLO), and you may be able to move one step closer to achieving your career goals.
Loan officers are prevalent across the United States and offer mortgage guidance to homebuyers. These professionals are happy to support homebuyers in any way they can, and in many cases, will help make an individual’s homeownership dreams a reality.
Here’s a closer look at some of the key questions about loan officers and why you may want to consider pursuing a career as an MLO.
What Is a Mortgage Loan Officer?
Let’s face it: the U.S. housing market often serves as a boom-or-bust sector. Although the number of homebuyers and home prices declined during the Great Recession, the housing market has rebounded over the past few years. As a result, the demand for loan officers may continue to rise in the foreseeable future as well.
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported that 654,000 new single-family houses were sold in July 2016, up 12.4 percent month to month and 31.3 percent year to year. Furthermore, the median sale price of new homes in July was $294,600, along with a supply of 4.3 months at the current sales rate.
Clearly, the U.S. housing market appears to be a buyer’s market in 2016, one that presents numerous opportunities for homebuyers across the country. The housing market also delivers ample opportunities for MLOs, as these professionals sell home mortgage products for a bank or credit union.
An MLO is tasked with soliciting home mortgage product sales that correspond to various loan quality and production goals. He or she must provide referrals for mortgage lending opportunities and may boast a broad professional network that may include builders, real estate agents, and other referral sources.
In addition, an MLO participates in business-related development opportunities regularly. These opportunities enable an MLO to serve as a lending resource and promote homeownership throughout a community.
An MLO may partner with a Mortgage Loan Associate (MLA), and together, the pair may be better equipped to guide homebuyers on loan options. This partnership could empower an MLO in several key areas, such as:
- Loan Process – MLAs possess a comprehensive understanding of loan origination, closing, processing, underwriting, and more. Thus, they can deliver additional insights into the end-to-end loan process.
- Referrals – Working with an MLA may help an MLO establish new business referral sources.
- Client Mortgages – An MLO and MLA can collaboratively review a client’s mortgage needs.
Typically, an MLO will respond to customer queries and referrals, along with performing interviews with potential borrowers. He or she is responsible for analyzing financial and credit data to determine whether a homebuyer is a viable loan candidate. Plus, an MLO may help a customer establish financing objectives as well as provide him or her with advice on home mortgage products and pricing.
An MLO must possess a firm understanding of lending programs, along with policies, procedures, and regulatory requirements. This background guarantees that an MLO can serve as an effective guide for homebuyers, i.e. someone who can ensure that these buyers can find the right mortgage product at the right price consistently.
Offering exceptional customer service is a crucial part of an MLO’s day-to-day responsibilities. Buying a house can be stressful, and few homebuyers possess extensive knowledge of lending programs and related information. As a result, an MLO is expected to remain open to questions and be ready to answer homebuyer queries without delay.
An MLO is required to comply with state and federal policies. Also, this professional must adhere to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, a regulation that was enacted by Congress in 1975 and requires lending institutions to report public loan data.
What Are a Loan Officer’s Day-to-Day Responsibilities?
Ultimately, a day in the life of an MLO can be both challenging and exciting. In most cases, no two work shifts are ever identical, and an MLO may interact with dozens of builders, homebuyers, and real estate agents who can help him or her succeed.
An MLO’s day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Fostering and maintaining relationships with business referral sources
- Exploring new mortgage lending opportunities
- Discussing a customer’s loan options throughout each stage of the loan process
- Reviewing training materials and other resources to stay up to date on loan programs and policies for both internal customers and external business partners
- Processing loan applications to fulfillment center partners
- Delivering outstanding customer services throughout the loan process
- Evaluating the loan process from beginning to end
- Providing ongoing updates to customers and business partners
- Accomplishing production goals set by a lending institution
- Completing all MLO training as required by a lending institution
An MLO’s primary objective is to originate loans and ensure they are processed correctly. At the same time, this professional must ensure that a borrower is fully supported throughout the loan process.
What Tasks Do Loan Officers Perform?
MLOs frequently wear many hats on a daily basis, and some of their everyday tasks include:
1. New Business Development
From cold-calling to various networking activities, an MLO must develop and foster a business referral network. Also, an MLO will participate in community initiatives to promote homeownership and ensure borrowers understand the ins and outs of the loan application process. These activities enable an MLO to promote a bank or credit union’s home mortgage products and connect with prospects and customers.
2. Support With the Loan Application Process
Buying a home can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor, and one that no homebuyer should be forced to undergo without support from an MLO.
Homebuyers will meet with an MLO to discuss their credit and financial data and determine their financing requirements. An MLO can offer tips and insights to ensure a homebuyer understands how much he or she can afford, based on credit and financing options that are available. When an MLO meets with homebuyers, he or she can highlight home mortgage products based on homebuyers’ needs, too.
Moreover, an MLO can explain home mortgage product guidelines, identify opportunities to sell additional products, and act accordingly. He or she also will collect loan documentation and provide this information to a Mortgage Loan Coordinator to ensure all loan conditions are met.
3. Loan Management Assistance
After a borrower chooses a home mortgage product, an MLO will need to remain available to provide continuous loan management assistance.
Usually, an MLO will work with a number of loan management professionals, including:
- Mortgage Loan Coordinator – Responsible for identifying any issues that may arise during the loan process.
- Mortgage Loan Associate – Monitors and collects on loans.
- Sales Assistants – Provides additional support throughout the sale of a home mortgage product.
An MLO will keep a borrower informed about the status of his or her loan. He or she may serve as the first point of contact for a borrower, and must be ready to aid this customer in any way possible.
4. Professional Development Training
A lending institution may provide regular professional development training that an MLO will need to attend. This training ensures an MLO can maintain their current knowledge of lending programs, policies, and regulatory requirements.
Professional development training also ensures an MLO can perform his or her day-to-day tasks quickly and efficiently, along with addressing his or her job concerns. This training will guide an MLO through all aspects of the sale process and could help an MLO achieve his or her professional goals.
What Skills Do Mortgage Officers Need?
Unfortunately, becoming an MLO is unlikely to happen overnight, and you will need to possess skills in many areas before you can begin a career as an MLO.
Some of the key skill areas for MLOs include:
- Computer Skills – MLOs must be able to perform database management. As such, they will need to know how to use the Microsoft Office Suite and other computer technologies for database management, along with accessing and reviewing credit and loan status updates.
- Time Management – For MLOs, there is often a lot that needs to be done in a given day with limited time and resources available. Therefore, MLOs need to possess time management skills to ensure they can stay on track with everyday tasks and perform multiple tasks at the same time.
- Communication – Perhaps the most important skill for an MLO, communication is paramount. An MLO will be required to connect with multiple parties, day after day. An MLO needs to be able to communicate effectively across multiple platforms and share his or her ideas clearly and effectively.
- Analysis – Financial data can be complex, and MLOs must possess an in-depth understanding of this information to provide borrowers with the right options. An MLO must be willing to mine financial data, along with explaining how this information may affect a homebuyer’s ability to receive a loan.
- Interpersonal – An MLO may encounter stressful situations at times. But with the right interpersonal skills, he or she will be able to overcome any problems along the way. An MLO needs to remain open and empathetic, and by doing so, will be better equipped to maintain a positive outlook.
Of course, an MLO must possess a thorough understanding of home mortgage products as well as mortgage processing, underwriting, and closing. An MLO also will need to know about government lending policies and federal regulations relative to real estate lending.
How Much Do Loan Officers Make?
Education plays a pivotal role in an MLO’s salary. And with the right education, you’ll be better equipped to earn a lucrative annual salary for years to come.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the 2015 median annual salary of loan officers was $63,430 — or more than $30 per hour — on a national level. This agency also noted the number of loan officer jobs was 303,200 in the United States in 2014, and this figure could jump 8 percent between 2014 and 2024.
A loan officer’s annual salary may be commission-based, as well. In some instances, loan officers are paid on a commission-basis, which means that how much a loan officer earns depends entirely on his or her day-to-day efforts. This also means that a loan officer’s annual salary may fluctuate depending on the state of the housing market and other economic factors.
How much a loan officer earns often depends on the level of education that he or she receives, too. Typically, a standard loan officer requires only a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS. On the other hand, MLOs must be licensed and require education that ensures they understand the ins and outs of lending.
Why Should You Become a Loan Officer?
Recently, U.S. News and World Report ranked loan officers among its top 20 business jobs. The demand for MLOs continues to grow nationwide, creating ample career growth opportunities among loan officers. And with a rapidly improving U.S. economy, the average annual salaries of loan officers may increase accordingly, giving you the opportunity to earn a steady income as a loan officer.
There are many reasons for you to consider pursuing a career as an MLO, including:
- Job Stability – Why settle for a career in a field that lacks growth opportunities? Instead, becoming an MLO may make it easier to find a job that you can enjoy for an extended period of time. There is tremendous job stability in working as a loan officer, and with the housing market’s recent boom, the demand for loan officers is expected to increase accordingly.
- Flexible Schedule – Want a job where you have the flexibility to earn as much as you’d like? Pursue a career as an MLO, and you can enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule. Many MLOs work on commission, which means how much you earn is based on how well you engage homebuyers and sell home mortgage products. Or, if you want to earn as much as possible, you can always pursue a regular 9-to-5 job as an MLO.
- Superior Work-Life Balance – Work can be stressful, especially for those who face tight budgets and deadlines every day. And if you’re overworked, you may struggle to maintain the ideal work-life balance as well. Conversely, loan officers consistently rank among the best business jobs in the United States, thanks in part to the perks and stability that they provide. Thus, you may be better equipped to work hard and enjoy life to the fullest extent if you pursue a rewarding career as an MLO.
- Positive Interactions – Becoming an MLO may be the perfect career choice for a “people person.” MLOs connect with homebuyers and help them accomplish their homeownership goals. After you help a homebuyer secure his or her perfect house, you can take solace in the fact that you helped this individual secure his or her dream residence.
- Simple to Get Started – Just about anyone can pursue a career as an MLO. There usually are minimal education and experience requirements for standard loan officers, and continuing education opportunities are readily available to help you build your skill set so you can become an MLO in no time at all.
Ready to pursue a career as an MLO? StateCE offers continuing education classes that are approved by the Nationwide Licensed Mortgage System (NLMS) and cover a broad range of relevant mortgage topics. That way, you can learn about extensive mortgage licensing requirements on both the state and national level.
To learn more about our mortgage loan originator continuing education classes, please contact us today at 877-603-4073. Or, you can browse our course catalog online today.