Of course, you always want to be careful with whom you choose as a Mortgage Consultant, but especially when you are dealing wth FHA, you want to be sure that the Mortgage Consultant you use actually knows what he or she is doing. Although FHA guidelines should be the same everywhere, underwriters still go by their gut feelings on many borderline issues especially if you are on the edge of the maximum debt to income ratios or some other requirements.
An amateur loan officer or careless processor can easily botch your loan file and if it gets denied, then the denial and the reasons for the denial go on your record. This means that even if you change to another lender, your FHA case number must be transferred from the previous lender along with that record. This doesn't necesarily mean that your loan will be impossible to approve elsewhere, but it can make it much harder and cause more stress at the very least and it may prevent your loan from being approved on time for closing at worst case.
Do you have a realtor that can refer you to a trusted Mortgage Consultant who can do FHA loans? Do you know anyone else who has obtained an FHA loan and who can refer you to someone? I would try those options first.
Another fault are the way rates are advertised and offered to borrowers. Fees can be very high... initially you'll receive a Good Faith Estimate that is light on details but sounds great on rate. Items like escrow impoundment, title work, and transactional taxes are often omitted until your application is in.
A third fault is you will work with a daisy chain of low level staffers. One will take your application and quote the lender's lowest rate. A second will "process" your loan and request documents from you. A third may call to "counsel" you about a change in rate/fees from the initial offer once the lender has your documents.
None have the authority, knowledge, or responsibility that comes with being a mortgage banker or licensed mortgage broker.
Lastly, no reputable lender or bank charges up front fees just to obtain a credit determination. An up front application fee is the surest sign of one thing: The lender turns down so many applications that they must collect a fee to cover the costs of operating the call center.
Try your bank first. Also ask your Realtor for a recommendation. Realtors have just as much interest in working with a reliable low cost lender as you since the Realtor earns nothing until the purchase closes. Good Realtors secure their incomes by working with proven professionals for the ancilliary services (like a lender) needed to close. Trust your bank and your Realtor. Ignore desparate lenders offering the moon via radio, TV, and internet.
Call Nancy Everett at 818.755-1000 who does FHA loans all day long and can answer your questions directly. Why risk you loan with someone you'll never meet and is probably not the person that will working on the loan?