According to a 2004 study by Wholesale Access Mortgage Research & Consulting, Inc., there are approximately 53,000 mortgage brokerage companies that employ an estimated 418,700 employees and originate more than 50% of all residential loans in the U.S.. The mortgage broker industry is regulated by 10 federal laws, five federal enforcement agencies and over 49 state laws or licensing boards.
Mortgage brokers participate in more than 68% of home loans originations. The remaining 32% is retail done through the lender's retail channel, which means the lender does not go through a broker.
The banks have used brokers to outsource the job of finding and qualifying borrowers, and also to outsource some of the liabilities for fraud and foreclosure onto the originators through legal agreements.
During the process of loan origination, the broker gathers and processes paperwork associated with mortgaging real estate.
Difference between a mortgage broker and a loan officer
A mortgage broker works as a conduit between the buyer and the lender, the loan officer typically works directly for the lender. Most states require the mortgage broker to be licensed. States regulate lending practice and licensing, but the rules vary. Most have a license for those who wish to be a "Broker Associate", a "Brokerage Business", and a "Direct Lender".
A mortgage broker is normally registered with the state, and personally liable (punishable by revocation or prison) for fraud for the life of a loan. A loan officer works under the umbrella license of their current institution. Both positions have legal, moral, and professional liabilities to prevent fraud and fully disclose loan terms.
Typically, a mortgage broker will make more money per loan than a loan officer, but a loan officer can utilize the referral network available from the lending institution to sell more loans. There are mortgage brokers and loan officers at all levels of experience.
A large segment of the mortgage finance industry is commission based. Potential clients can compare a lender's loan terms to those of others through advertisements or internet quotes.
In the 1970s, mortgage brokers did not have access to wholesale markets, unlike traditional bankers. Today, mortgage brokers are more competitive with their access to wholesale capital markets and pricing discounts. A mortgage broker has lower overhead costs compared to large and expensive banking operations because of their small structure. They can lower rates instantly to compete for clients. On the other hand, larger companies are less competitive since they provide their sales representatives their fixed rate sheets. Loan officers often cannot reduce their companies' profit margin and may be higher or lower than the marketplace, depending on the decision of managers. Thus, mortgage brokers have gained between 60-70% of the marketplace.
Mortgage brokers can obtain loan approvals from the largest secondary wholesale market lenders in the country. For example, Fannie Mae may issue a loan approval to a client through its mortgage broker, which can then be assigned to any of a number of mortgage bankers on the approved list. The broker will often compare rates for that day. The broker will then assign the loan to a designated licensed lender based on their pricing and closing speed. The lender may close the loan and service the loan. They may either fund it permanently or temporarily with a warehouse line of credit prior to selling it into a larger lending pool.
The difference between the "Broker" and "Banker" is the banker's ability to use a short term credit line (known as a warehouse line) to fund the loan until they can sell the loan to the secondary market. Then, they repay their warehouse lender and obtain a profit on the sale of the loan. The borrower will often get a letter notifying them their lender has sold or transferred the loan.
Brokers must also disclose Yield spread premium while Bankers do not. This has created an ambiguous and difficult identification of the true cost to obtain a mortgage. The stricter Broker disclosure requirements, especially the Good Faith Estimate, can often create the illusion that they are charging more to obtain the exact same mortgage when compared to a Banker, when in fact they may cost the same or the Brokers offer may even be less costly. This topic has been hotly debated on Capitol Hill and state level judiciary committees.
Also See: Predatory lending & Mortgage fraud
Sometimes they will sell the loan, but continue to service the loan. Other times, the lender will maintain ownership and sell the rights to service the loan to an outside mortgage service bureau.
Secondary market influence
Even large companies with a lending license sell, or broker, the mortgage loan transactions they originate and close. A smaller percentage of bankers service and keep their loans than those in past decades. Banks act as a broker due to the increasing size of the loans because few can use depositor's money on mortgage loans. A depositor may request their money back and the lender would need large reserves to refund that money on request. Mortgage bankers do not take deposits and do not find it practical to make loans without a wholesaler in place to purchase them. The required cash of a mortgage banker is only $50,000 in New York. The remainder may be in the form of property assets (an additional $200,000), an additional credit line from another source (an additional $1,000,000). That amount is sufficient to make only two median price home loans. Therefore, mortgage lending is dependent on the secondary market, which includes securitization on Wall Street and other large funds.
The top wholesale institutions are Federal National Mortgage Association, and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly referred to as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, respectively. Loans must comply with their jointly derived standard application form guidelines so they may become eligible for sale to larger loan servicers or investors. These larger investors could then sell them to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to replenish warehouse funds. The goal is to package loan portfolios in conformance with the secondary market to maintain the ability to sell loans for capital. If interest rates drop and the portfolio has a higher average interest rate, the banker can sell the loans at a larger profit based on the difference in the current market rate. Some large lenders will hold their loans until such a gain is possible.
The selling of mortgage loans in the wholesale or secondary market is more common. They provide permanent capital to the borrowers. A "direct lender" may lend directly to a borrower, but can have the loan pre-sold prior to the closing.
Few lenders are comprehensive. That is, few close, keep, and service the mortgage loan. The term is known as portfolio lending, indicating that a loan has been made from funds on deposit or a trust. That type of direct lending is uncommon, and has been declining in usage.
Improved consumer laws
The laws have improved considerably in favor of consumers. A mortgage broker must comply to standards set by law in order to charge a fee to a borrower. The fees must meet an additional threshold, that the combined rate and costs may not exceed a lower percentage, without being deemed a "High Cost Mortgage". An excess would trigger additional disclosures and warnings of risk to a borrower. Further, the mortgage broker would have to be more compliant with regulators. Costs are likely lower due to this regulation.
Mortgage bankers and banks are not subject to this cost reduction act. Because the selling of loans generates most lender fees, servicing the total in most cases exceeds the high cost act. Whereas mortgage brokers now must reduce their fees, a licenced lender is unaffected by the second portion of fee generation. This is due to the delay of selling the servicing until after closing. Therefore, it is considered a secondary market transaction and not subject to the same regulation