How to become a mortgage broker in 6 steps

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Real estate agents tend to get most of the recognition when it comes to helping consumers buy their new homes. But a lot of other important players are involved in making a home purchase happen — including the mortgage broker.

Depending on how many mortgage loans they broker and the state of their individual real estate market, a mortgage broker can make a cushy living.

Mortgage brokers have to undergo specific training to do their jobs, but a higher education degree is not required. Those with an aptitude for hard work and client relationships can find great success over the course of their career.

Here are a few things aspiring brokers should keep in mind, and the six specific steps they should take to earn the job title.

What is a mortgage broker?

A mortgage broker originates mortgage loans by working with both homebuyers and multiple lenders. Mortgage brokers might work for a brokerage firm or a bank, or they might be an independent contractor.

Some consumers might prefer to work with a mortgage broker over a loan officer because it’s a broker’s job to help borrowers find the loan that best fits their situation, even if that includes a less-than-pristine credit history.

What do they do?

Mortgage brokers work with both clients and lending companies to find mortgage loans for homebuyers.

  • Part of this process is completing due diligence on potential borrowers, including learning about their financial history, getting a credit report and verifying their employment.
  • Mortgage brokers then present this information to lenders, usually applying for preapproval on behalf of the client, and then review the best loan options with the client.
  • A mortgage broker is also expected to make sure that offers from lenders are aligned with all local and federal laws.
  • Throughout their relationship with the homebuyer, the mortgage broker must also ensure that the borrower understands the process and completes all necessary documentation.

Skills

Good with numbers

Mortgage brokers must be savvy when it comes to finances. They should have a thorough understanding of concepts, such as budgeting, saving, managing money and investing.

Strong at building relationships

Cultivating and maintaining relationships is also a big part of being a mortgage broker. Therefore, mortgage brokers should work on their interpersonal and communication skills in order to maintain good working relationships, which can come in handy when negotiating.

Detail-oriented

Because they may manage a number of clients at once, they should also be detail-oriented and able to juggle multiple deadlines.

How long does it take to become a mortgage broker?

The length of time to become a mortgage broker will vary depending on whether or not the prospective broker decides to earn a higher degree, which is not required. However, obtaining a two- or four-year college degree in a field like finance or business administration — or even continuing on for a master’s degree — can help build relevant skills and give a broker leverage to earn a higher salary.

After that, an aspiring mortgage broker will need to take the following steps:

1. Pre-licensure course

Complete a pre-licensure course from an approved provider (typically 20 hours) to learn about mortgage origination, ethical issues and federal and state regulations.

2. Pass the exam

Pass a licensing exam administered by the National Mortgage License System (NMLS) by scoring at least 75 percent on each portion of the exam.

3. Get a bond

Mortgage brokers must get a bond as a guarantee to their clients that they’ll follow all regulations and best practices in the trade. How much the bond is for will vary by state, and a broker will have to pay a percentage of the total bond amount based on their own financial history, credit score and past business deals.

4. Submit an application

Finally, aspiring mortgage brokers will submit an application and fee. As part of this process, they’ll also need to receive a criminal background check. New mortgage brokers who are also opening their own brokerages will need to submit their business plans and other details to the NMLS. State-specific guidelines vary, however, and can be found on the NMLS website.

5. Build a network

Since mortgage brokers’ business depends a great deal on relationships with different lenders, real estate agents and other professionals in fields adjacent to real estate, it’s important to start forging those relationships right away. Creating lasting relationships with clients — who have the potential to become repeat clients — is also very important.

6. Continue training

A mortgage broker’s training isn’t over after he or she passes the exam. Brokers must take at least eight hours of training every year to renew their licenses, but exact requirements vary by state.

Salary

Mortgage brokers easily make an annual salary higher than the average personal income in the U.S. of $63,214, according to the latest data from World Population Review.

Many factors can contribute to how much a mortgage broker makes per year:

  • Geographical location
  • What kind of company they work for (or if they choose to be an independent contractor)
  • Whether or not they receive commissions or bonuses

According to a survey of 143 salary reports from Indeed, mortgage brokers earn an average base salary of $101,997 and earn an average commission of 2.25 percent for each loan they originate.

PayScale reported an average base salary for mortgage brokers at $64,630 per year, however, with typical bonuses between $2,000 and $50,000 and commissions between $12,000 and $178,000, based on data from 57 mortgage brokers.

Meanwhile, Glassdoor reported an average salary of $133,650 per year with an estimated additional pay (including bonuses, commission, tips or profit sharing) of $57,820 per year.

Tips

Gain experience

Even before obtaining a license, it can be very helpful for aspiring mortgage brokers to get an entry-level position at a mortgage brokerage or other lending institution to learn some tricks of the trade and start making connections within the industry.

Don’t stop learning

Stay in touch with the latest industry regulations and trends by keeping up on continuing education courses and reading up on industry news.

Practice resiliency

Finally, train yourself to be resilient in order to better deal with whatever the housing market may throw at you. Whether it’s rising interest rates, a rush on homebuying or otherwise, be prepared to switch gears quickly and stay calm.

The job of a mortgage broker isn’t an easy one — but it can be very rewarding for individuals who seek out the proper training and have a natural aptitude for numbers, relationships and fast-paced work.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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