Best mortgage lenders for current environment

Hi BPN fam, 

Curious your opinion on mortgage lender options. Does the current Berkeley market still require a very engaged, local and known quantity mortgage lender? Or are the national options (Rocket, Better, etc.) or credit unions worth also researching? Thanks for any thoughts. And, if local is still absolutely the way to go, always appreciative of suggestions based on recent good experiences. 

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Surprisingly, bank of America gave us the best mortgage rate as compared to MPR Financial in Berkeley. And then BoA took it upon themselves to lower our rate at some point, most likely bc better rates were available and they didn’t want us to move our debt elsewhere. So check with your bank and compare. MPR said they couldn’t beat the rate BoA was offering. 

Hi! Good question. I'm an agent in Oakland/Berkeley/El Cerrito/Richmond. In my opinion, things are reverting back to the highly competitive seller's market more and more every day that passes right now. But I think it all depends on what type of property you are trying to buy. Are you looking for the highly desirable fully updated 3bd/2ba 1400+ sf home? If so, I'm seeing multiple offers and therefore I would suggest using a local lender who can close in 14-17 days and who will fully pre-underwrite you prior to writing offers (which will help you feel more comfortable waiving loan contingency hopefully). If you're willing to purchase something a little less "turnkey" than you might still get to use a different type of lender, with the hopes that that lender can get you a better interest rate. 

Someone I started working with during the softened market is Fred Grise' out of New Jersey (of all places!). He worked extra fast for my client. Fully pre-underwrites prior to writing offers. And has been able to quote lower rates.

Fred Grise'
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage | 200 Schulz Drive | Red Bank, NJ 07701
Tel 732-284-0658 | Cell 718-644-8664
fred [at] (fred[at]wellsfargo[dot]com) |

Oh, also forgot to mention my go to local direct lending mortgage banker is JVM Lending. They've never let me down!

Yes, your offer will carry more credibility if you use an engaged, local, known-quantity mortgage professional. The national options you mention may not be able to provide a high level of service, nor will they know the local market, which could make it harder to get your offer accepted.  

The mortgage industry has been changing a lot over the past several decades. Mortgage brokers and mortgage bankers used to be able to offer competitive rates. Mortgage brokers could access multiple lenders (banks and non-banks) to find the best terms for their clients. Mortgage bankers (non-banks) could offer competitive loans using their own funding sources; then they would sell the loans and repeat the process. Mortgage brokers/bankers who knew the local market could help you get your offer accepted, while offering competitive rates and good service.

However, this all started to change gradually after the financial meltdown of 2008, and now the big banks are your best option for lower rates, faster closing times, and jumbo (high balance) loans. All of the leading banks have closed their wholesale divisions, meaning mortgage brokers can no longer access them, so mortgage brokers have very few markets to go to now. The mortgage bankers either: (1) are not committed to jumbo (high balance) loans, a necessity in the S.F. Bay Area, or (2) have such high overhead that they can no longer compete on rates. The major banks are now committed to offering loans at competitive rates using their own in-house loan officers. A local loan officer at a big bank is probably your best bet since they will know the area and can offer good rates.  

Note: I am not recommending any specific lender here, but rather, writing about my knowledge of the mortgage industry. If you search “biggest banks in America” you will find the top five or so direct lenders to consider. You could also consider credit unions, which will vary depending on their size and focus, and they usually require a membership.