Ian R. Lobas
Your local bank is typically not the best source for home mortgages so you are wise to look for alternate sources. Good local direct lenders are your best bet for no nonsense competitive home loans. That means that the whole loan approval process will be completed in house and not there will not be another company actually funding your loan.
If you do not have a friend or family member that can refer you to a reputable source, I would HIGHLY recommend that you have a sucessful real estate agent suggest one. The benefit of having a professional refer you is that the lender has had the opportunity, typically over years of transactions, to demonstrate that they are competitive, responsive and honest. The down side to a lender not doing a GREAT job for a consumer that a successful agent has refered to them is the loss of potentially hundreds of futher loans. After all the average consumer will only need to finance homes 5-7 times in their lifetime. Good agents can provide that many leads to them in a few months.
I would be happy to provide you with a referral if you think it would be helpful