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Mortgage Loan Originator Duties and Responsibilities

While the term "mortgage loan originator" implies tasks focused on only the beginning of the loan application process, their core duties actually extend all the way to loan approval and closing. Based on an analysis of job listings and resumes of practicing mortgage loan originators, these duties include:

Maintain Referral Relationships and Approach Leads Although the marketing or sales team of a lending institution may help bring in new loan applicants to some extent, it is often the responsibility of the mortgage loan originator to attract potential borrowers. They do this by cultivating relationships with real estate agents, financial planners, accountants, and others, who then refer their clients to them.

Advise Applicants on Loan Options Mortgage loan originators interview applicants to assess their loan requirements. They are familiar with all of the different kinds of loans available and are able to advise applicants on which option is best suited for their needs.

Analyze and Submit All Applicant's Required Documentation The entire loan application includes but is not limited to documentation from credit bureaus, financial institutions, and employers. Mortgage loan originators gather and analyze each document, ensuring that it is accurate and fulfills application requirements. They then input the application into a system and submit it for approval.

Oversee Loan Process Through Closing Mortgage loan originators monitor the loan application as it waits for approval from the lender. They provide progress reports to their clients, and if any discrepancies should arise between the lender and the potential borrower, they help to resolve them.

Provide Ongoing Customer Support Although mortgage loan originators often receive a commission for each loan they close, the most important element of success is not clever salesmanship, but excellent customer service. They do this by providing education, advice, and progress reports, answering questions, and resolving problems.


Mortgage Loan Originator Skills and Qualifications

Mortgage loan originators study continuously to stay abreast of changes in laws or loan options. They are also passionate about educating and advising their customers on those topics. Candidates must be licensed and registered by the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System in order to work, and employers typically prefer that they have a bachelor's degree in business administration or finance. In addition, successful mortgage loan originators possess the following skills:
  • Banking and lending legal knowledge - a strong understanding of state and federal laws surrounding loans is crucial, both for educating clients on how the process works and for checking the accuracy of applications
  • Accounting experience - in order to advise applicants on which loan is best for them, mortgage loan originators must be able to analyze their clients' finances and understand how that influences their options
  • Salesmanship - although this is only one of several skills needed to successfully close new loans, it is nevertheless vital to have a solid understanding of how sales pipelines work and which techniques help convert leads into clients
  • Service orientation - securing a mortgage can massively impact a person's life, so a mortgage loan originator must always have the best interests of their clients at heart when advising on their options
  • Communication skills - whether communicating with potential borrowers or lenders, mortgage loan originators must be able to discuss complex and sometimes sensitive subjects with clarity and tact

Mortgage Loan Originator Education and Training

Employers often seek applicants with a bachelor's degree in business administration, finance, or a related field; however, it's just as common to see job listings that only require two years of experience in loan origination. In any case, all mortgage loan originators must be licensed and registered according to the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008. This includes 20 hours of education from an approved course provider, plus an exam comprised of a national component and state component.

Mortgage Loan Originator Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the median annual wage for loan officers is $64,000. However, many loan originators are paid on commission, so earnings can vary widely. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $32,000, while the top 10 percent earn more than $135,000. Economic growth and younger generations entering the housing market continue to provide new business opportunities for both aspiring and seasoned mortgage loan originators. The BLS projects that employment for this field will grow 11 percent through 2026, a significant advantage over the 7 percent average of all occupations.

Helpful Resources

There is an abundance of resources to help you begin an emotionally and financially rewarding career as a mortgage loan originator. Here are our top picks to get you started:

NMLS Resource Center - the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) is the official system for recording the licensure of mortgage loan originators and mortgage companies. This official website of the NMLS provides checklists and approved course providers for the licensing process

Loan Officer License - like the NMLS Resource Center, this informative website provides a guide to the mortgage loan originator licensing process, with the added bonus of being more engaging and user-friendly

The SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator National Exam Study Guide - this highly reviewed test-prep book has been updated to reflect the exam content from 2017. While it includes over 400 practice questions, it places a greater emphasis on understanding the material than memorizing answers

The Loan Officer Revolution - author Rick Elmendorf is consistently ranked among the top 1 percent of mortgage originators in America. In this book, he gives readers a chance to look over the shoulder of a top-earning professional. His insights are invaluable for anyone who's looking to elevate their business relationships and strategies

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