Financing in Atlanta>Question Details

Curtis Russe…, Home Buyer in Atlanta, GA

How to Choose the "right" Mortgage Lender?

Asked by Curtis Russell-Kozik, Atlanta, GA Thu Aug 8, 2013

My partner and I have been doing our homework as we prepare to embark on our first home buying experience in Atlanta, GA. There is so much information available and many mortgage lenders who say all the "right" things to obtain business but we've heard LOTS of horror stories if the wrong lender gets the business. What's some criteria that others have used in deciding which mortgage lender to give their business to? We've heard good things about Quicken Loans. Does anyone have an opinion on them? Here's a breakdown of our situation. FHA Loan is our preference, credit score 650 -700 range, $250k -$325k budget, new construction homes are our preference but open to resale single family homes and town homes as well. Any tips are greatly appreciated.

Help the community by answering this question:



First off - congratulations! Even though it may be a daunting task, buying a home here will be a great experience for you.

As far as your situation goes, you have a very comfortable set up for a loan that most offices will be able to accommodate. As Kaci stated earlier, most local lenders have access to programs all over the nation, so the price different will be minimal, and you will drive yourself crazy chasing pennys.

The real help you will need is someone to help guide you through the process to the best loan program that works for your particular needs. Shop around with different lenders, not so much for rate and monthly payments, but for who can build a good relationship with you and will be honest and helpful throughout the whole process.

If you have any questions or would like to just talk about more options or tips, don't hesitate to contact me.


Heather Williams
Cell: 770-355-6035
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 9, 2013

Most lenders offer the same programs. And we all get our rates from the same place. What it really boils down to is finding a loan officer who will educate you about the loan programs and assist in helping you choose one that makes the most sense for your long term goals.

For more information about your specific situation, you may contact me at:

c: 404.465.1766
o: 678.381.2257
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 26, 2013
HI Curtis, you can find info on Quicken Loans and other lenders/banks/brokers via the mortgage rate and lender comparison website
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Aug 26, 2013
So many great answers here! I think the most common and overlooked aspect of getting a mortgage would be all the involved costs.

Too often folks seem more interested in the amount of a monthly payment rather than the entire cost of a mortgage short and long term. A good lender or broker is one that will comfortably answer all your questions and guide you to investment success.

The majority of lenders or brokers have software programs they use that will give you several scenarios of what a mortgage will cost you with just a click of a few buttons. As an ex-banker of fifteen plus years, the numbers and factors that go in to a mortgage loan is not complicated as some bankers would have you believe :).

Thanks for the post and best of luck to you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013
That is a brilliant question. In a perfect world you want a lender who listens, understands, can offer a variety of options as well as good rates to boot. Those are the basics. Then you want a lender who follows through and represents an excellent lending company.

When it comes to my buyers I focus on getting a solid understanding of their needs and wants when it comes to borrowing and then fit them with the best tried and true lender who has consistently brought my buyers through without a scratch.

If I can help you more and if you would like me to recommend a lender to you that fits your needs, please give me a call.

Patricia Queen
BRIGHTSTAR at Keller Williams Midtown
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013
Be sure to get information about mortgages from several lenders or brokers. Know how much of a down payment you can afford, and find out all the costs involved in the loan. Knowing just the amount of the monthly payment or the interest rate is not enough. Ask for information about the same loan amount, loan term, and type of loan so that you can compare the information. The following information is important to get from each lender and broker:

Ask each lender and broker for a list of its current mortgage interest rates and whether the rates being quoted are the lowest for that day or week.
Ask whether the rate is fixed or adjustable. Keep in mind that when interest rates for adjustable-rate loans go up, generally so does the monthly payment.
If the rate quoted is for an adjustable-rate loan, ask how your rate and loan payment will vary, including whether your loan payment will be reduced when rates go down.
Ask about the loan's annual percentage rate (APR). The APR takes into account not only the interest rate but also points, broker fees, and certain other credit charges that you may be required to pay, expressed as a yearly rate.


Points are fees paid to the lender or broker for the loan and are often linked to the interest rate; usually the more points you pay, the lower the rate.

Check your local newspaper for information about rates and points currently being offered.
Ask for points to be quoted to you as a dollar amount--rather than just as the number of points--so that you will actually know how much you will have to pay.


A home loan often involves many fees, such as loan origination or underwriting fees, broker fees, and transaction, settlement, and closing costs. Every lender or broker should be able to give you an estimate of its fees. Many of these fees are negotiable. Some fees are paid when you apply for a loan (such as application and appraisal fees), and others are paid at closing. In some cases, you can borrow the money needed to pay these fees, but doing so will increase your loan amount and total costs. "No cost" loans are sometimes available, but they usually involve higher rates.

Ask what each fee includes. Several items may be lumped into one fee.
Ask for an explanation of any fee you do not understand. Some common fees associated with a home loan closing are listed on the Mortgage Shopping Worksheet in this brochure.


Some lenders require 20 percent of the home's purchase price as a down payment. However, many lenders now offer loans that require less than 20 percent down--sometimes as little as 5 percent on conventional loans. If a 20 percent down payment is not made, lenders usually require the home buyer to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender in case the home buyer fails to pay. When government-assisted programs such as FHA (Federal Housing Administration), VA (Veterans Administration), or Rural Development Services are available, the down payment requirements may be substantially smaller.

Ask about the lender's requirements for a down payment, including what you need to do to verify that funds for your down payment are available.
Ask your lender about special programs it may offer.

If PMI is required for your loan,

Ask what the total cost of the insurance will be.
Ask how much your monthly payment will be when including the PMI premium.
Ask how long you will be required to carry PMI.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013

I think this is a question many buyers think about, but few ask for feedback like you have done. Most lenders perform FHA loans so the loan selection is not really a major concern. I am lender, so you should take that into consideration when reading my comments. Agents I work with say that when they have a client who is buying a home, they would prefer the buyer work with a local lender who has a good reputation in the local community. Some of the reasons for this are the local lenders are more familiar with the idiosyncracies of Georgia real estate and mortgage laws and will have every incentive to take care of a buyer since they want good reviews from the agents involved who will be important to the lender's future business prospects.

National lenders like Quicken are fine, but in my experience they will not be as attuned to the local needs of the realtor, closing attorney's office and loan regulations specific to Georgia. Further, the loan officer you work with will not be as dependent on a good buyer experience since he/she is dependent on local referrals for future business.

Timothy Brown | LPO Manager
EVOLVE bank & trust
11605 Haynes Bridge Road Suite 125
Alpharetta, GA 30009
o. 770.255.3880 | f. 678.935.1156 | m. 678.467.9959
NMLS#: 168281

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013
The horror stories you're hearing may be more misinformation than fact. There are, in all businesses, bad players...but most of them are driven from the industry by the watchdogs (DBF, CFPB and others) of the depository and nondepository lenders.

That said, just look for experience (ask) and don't go calling a dozen places or so and handing out your S/S # (never give if they ask in the intro phone call)'ll eventually get around to the people who will tell you what you want to hear rather than what is.

I've been in the business for over 40 years (10 at FNMA back when they were doing what they were mandated to do back in the 70's) and certainly know what I'm doing. Most of my business comes from referrals from prior customers (in some cases their grown children) so I must be doing something right. Also have several real estate agents I can refer you to so you can find the right personality and professionalism match to your own in your new home search.

References available upon request. Hope this helps allay your trepidations! Call when convenient. I answer this phone # everyday 8a-8p.

Vernon Appenzeller
Capital City Mortgage Investments, Inc
GA mortgage LENDER licensee #7064
NMLS #164510
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013
Hey Curtis - Great Question - check out websites like Kudzu and Better Business Atlanta and see what people are saying about those companies - then pick companies that have a number of positive reviews - normally brokers and small lenders will have better rates and costs then the bigger companies - interview 3-4 loan officers - ask them about their process - ask them about their mortgage plan - do the give you a step by step guide or map for the process- do they offer free float downs if you lock in a rate and your rates drop. I would be more than happy to walk you through any process and answer any questions. One other thing to make sure of - make sure the loan officer gives you their personal cell phone number. As a buyer you may have a question after hours or on the weekend - and its always great to get that question answered quickly esp with $300k on the line. You should also ask about other options besides FHA - because if your scores are in the upper 600s there may be better options. But its always best to talk to loan officers and compare products. Thanks
Brian Berman - Owner of Mortgage Atlanta 678-564-1522
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013
Hi Curtis,

I always usually recommend staying away from the big bank lenders. I have had many of issues dealing with them and hurting my clients.

I recommend Shelter Mortgage. They are one of the few lenders that actually treat someone as a person and deal with them hands on. They walk you through the process are are quick in responding and answering any questions. I've worked with them and my clients on many purchases and have yet to have any issues at all.

If you need any further information I would be happy to connect you with Nancy Grieve or Wayne Teas with Shelter Mortgage.

I'd also be happy to walk you through the home buying process as well. If you would like a consultation feel free to contact me anytime.

Tyler Willis, REALTOR®
Keller Williams Realty Intown Atlanta
621 North Ave NE, Suite C-50
Atlanta, GA 30308
Office: (404)541-3500
Direct: (678)656-5524
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 8, 2013
I've actually been advised by others to avoid the "big banks" when it comes to mortgage lending because that typically is not their primary business and it clearly shows over the course of the approval/underwriting process. My partner and I are definitely looking to work with someone who is willing to treat us like a priority. Since this is a new process for us, having their availability after 5pm and on weekends if necessary, is crucial.
Flag Thu Aug 8, 2013
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