Buying a home is a lot to understand, especially when it is your first real estate purchase.
This part of the First-Time Homebuyer Course aims to help demystify the roles of the entire real estate transaction and mortgage process from beginning to end.
Below, you will find a convenient table of contents that you can reference and use to navigate the content on this page.
The Loan Officer / Mortgage Consultant Role
The loan officer is the primary point of contact when a person wants to finance a home purchase with a mortgage. As part of the home purchase process, this will likely be the first person you speak to when you've decided to explore purchasing a home.
Scott Buehler is here to help! Looking for a Loan Officer in Utah or California? I'm here as your Mortgage Consultant and Mortgage Originator to help you throughout the process. Consider taking my 60-second questionnaire or send a text / call to 435.590.1019 to discuss your home purchasing options!
A Loan Officer (LO), or Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO), is a mortgage specialist registered with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) who may be licensed to conduct mortgage loans in one or multiple states. They may work directly for a bank, credit union, lending company or may be employed as a broker who negotiates with multiple lenders.
Your loan officer is the person you will discuss your financial history with, learn about various mortgage loan programs, identify potential home purchase problems and the person responsible for gathering and verifying all required documentation.
Your loan officer should also be your mortgage consultant. They are your guide to answer any questions, concerns, find your best home loan options that fit your goals and your negotiator! As your consultant, they closely work with your real estate agent, loan processor, loan underwriter, lock desk, closing department and your escrow officer.
The Loan Officer Assistant Role
The tasks of a Loan Officer Assistant (LOA) or Transaction Coordinator varies company to company. Typically, the loan officer assistant will assist the loan officer with document collection, doc verification, client communications, administrative tasks and more.
The LOA is there to help provide a smoother loan experience and to handle many repetitive behind-the-scenes tasks that are required in the loan process.
LOAs may also be assigned other misc. tasks for the loan officer including marketing, outreach, community projects and so much more.
The Real Estate Agent / Broker / REALTOR® Role
Once you go apply for your home loan, submit the required documentation needed, go through your loan officer review and receive your Prequalification Letter, you are ready to begin looking at homes. First, let's start with the definitions:
Real Estate Agent - Someone who has a professional license to help buy, sell or rent all sorts of housing and real estate.
Real Estate Broker - Someone who has taken education beyond the agent level as required by state laws and passed a broker's license exam. This person may also oversee day-to-day operations of an office, oversee all real estate agents of an office and other responsibilities.
REALTOR® - A licensed Real Estate Agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Membership in the NAR comes with access to the real estate market data and transaction management services among other benefits.
All REALTORS® are real estate agents but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.
Your real estate agent will be your representative that helps you find homes within your criteria and budget. This person also closely works with your loan officer to discuss specifics in your qualification to understand your overall budget, estimated loan maximums, whether you need seller-paid closing costs and more.
Your real estate agent is also able to assist in determining the estimated value of a property via comparables (comps). You will lean on your real estate agent as your advisor, local area expert and your representation in home price negotiations. Your buyer agent will also call the listing agent of a home to discuss received offers, price, condition, issues and so much more.
Whether your real estate agent is able to communicate with the listing agent or not, they are also the ones that can draw up your Real Estate Purchase Contract (REPC) to submit as an offer to be reviewed by the sellers.
Are real estate agents required? No, but they are recommended. Please see my house hunting tips and home purchase mistakes to avoid guide! Whether you utilize the services on a real estate agent, a real estate attorney or receive the forms from a title escrow officer, a Real Estate Purchase Contract is required to proceed with a home loan.
The Mortgage Processor Role
A key player in the mortgage process who has multiple responsibilities. Once you have a fully-signed and executed REPC, your Loan Officer will then work with the processor assigned to your loan to gather any explanations needed, verify documentation is complete, accurate and up to date. They also prepare your loan for Underwriting submission.
Depending on the structure of the lending company or preferred loan officer arrangement, you may hear directly from the processor with documentation or explanation requests. The processor may also communicate these needs with your loan officer who will present these requests to you, the borrower.
The processor may also perform many tasks behind the scenes including establishing the relationship of the escrow officer (title), order appraisals, discuss issues / get clarifications with Underwriting, perform Verifications of Employment (VOE) and so much more.
Finally, when everything is considered complete, the processor submits your full loan package to underwriting for review.
I regard the processor as the champion of a mortgage loan. Their expertise and experience is pivotal to the success of a completed home purchase as they are the second layer that can further identify problems or "make things happen" when issues arise. You want a loan officer who has a processor with years of experience!
The Mortgage Underwriter Role
The mortgage underwriter is the person who receives the completed loan package from the Processor.
Underwriters are the financial and mortgage guideline experts that will look at your credit history, income, assets and debt to determine if you are able to afford and repay the loan note.
As a homebuyer, you won't have contact with the underwriter, you'll speak to your loan officer instead. The loan officer or processor will communicate decisions from the underwriter including any conditions to receive final approval (Clear to Close).
It is the underwriter who makes the approval decision on your mortgage application.
The Mortgage Closer Role
Have the Clear to Close and final approval? Congrats, you are in the final stretch!
With final approval, your loan heads to the mortgage closer who will prepare and send your closing documents to the escrow officer responsible for your loan.
These closing documents will outline the final details of your loan, including loan amount, interest rate, term, closing costs and more. You'll receive the preliminary Closing Disclosure at least 3 business days before closing in order to review the details of your loan.
The closer is also the person that communicates with the escrow officer. Closer communications will include the conditions to fund the loan, balancing of title fees, authorize funding, determine the closing date and more.
A mortgage closer may request final audits of the loan prior to funding.
The Title Escrow Officer Role
Escrow officers are responsibly for facilitating the legal exchange of real estate property from one person to another. The escrow officer acts as an unbiased third party that ensures the mortgage transaction is carried out correctly for both the homebuyer and home seller.
Escrow officers also help manage the closing documents and money. When it is time to sign your closing documents, you'll likely meet your escrow officer who will be the person that explains the mortgage documents to you as you sign them. An escrow officer may also facilitate a remote signing of documents through a mobile notary.
The escrow officer works with their title company to provide title insurance which helps protect you, the buyer and the mortgage servicer from a variety of issues that might be uncovered after the transaction is completed. Additionally, an owner's policy of title insurance insures the buyer's ownership rights to the property.
Your title insurance is paid as part of your closing costs on your mortgage. It is a one-time fee that provides coverage that will last as long as you own your home.
Additional tasks of an escrow officer include:
- Holding your earnest money deposit.
- Balancing the loan numbers with the mortgage closer.
- Distributing funds including loan payoffs.
- Searching property records to find and remedy (if possible) several types of ownership issues.
- Submitting your documentation to the county recorder.
- Providing digital and/or physical copies of your loan paperwork.
Title escrow officers are often willing to provide additional services in partnership with Loan Officers. If you believe you will need doc scanning services, off-site doc signing to accommodate special needs or other special needs services, please communicate these needs to your Loan Officer.
The value of Scott Buehler by your side! Now that you understand the many roles of a home purchase, let's move on to learn about the Prequalification Letter or explore my mortgage application walkthrough. I'd be honored and excited if you chose me as your trusted mortgage consultant for your home loan. I'll happily answer any of your questions or concerns throughout the entire process. Start my 60-second mortgage questionnaire to begin!
I'm looking forward to helping you through the home loan process!