How to Choose the Right Florida Mortgage Lender for You

How to Choose the Right Florida Mortgage Lender for You

The Mortgage HUB
The Mortgage HUB
Published on November 28, 2023
Florida Mortgage Lender: FI

How to Choose the Right Florida Mortgage Lender for You

The process of buying a home can be overwhelming, especially when it comes to securing a mortgage loan. Choosing the right Florida mortgage lender or Florida mortgage broker can make all the difference in finding the right mortgage and getting the best possible interest rate.

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As the Florida real estate market continues to boom, there is no shortage of Florida mortgage lenders to choose from. These mortgage companies all offer a wide array of loan programs such as Conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans. However, finding the right one can be a challenge.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what to consider when selecting your Florida mortgage lender or mortgage broker.

What is a Mortgage Lender?

It can be confusing to distinguish the difference between a bank, a mortgage lender, and a mortgage broker. However, there is one simple way to tell them apart. A bank is primarily an institution that provides depository accounts like a checking, savings, or money market but they also offer mortgage loans as an additional financial service to provide to their clients.

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A mortgage lender does not offer any other financial products other than mortgages, they fund the loan themselves and often sell it shortly after closing to a bank or a loan servicer to collect the monthly payments. Finally, a mortgage broker does not lend money. They are allowed to originate loans with many banks and multiple lenders simultaneously. 

Mortgage brokers can provide consumers access to the best mortgage lenders like Rocket Mortgage, Caliber Home Loans, United Wholesale Mortgage, and Freedom Mortgage with just one loan application making the mortgage rate shopping process simple and stress-free.

The Pros and Cons of Working With a Bank

Working with a large bank to secure a home loan can offer numerous benefits for the right buyer. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential drawbacks and common misconceptions that may arise when dealing with a bank.

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Competitive rates and low fees

This is one of the most attractive aspects of working with a bank, they often provide low mortgage rates and fees  allowing you to save money on monthly mortgage payments and closing costs. But these low rates and fees do come with a sacrifice which we will discuss in the cons section.

Local Presence

While the mortgage process can be conducted entirely online, some consumers find it appealing that banks have numerous branch locations. However, it is crucial to note that many large banks do not house their mortgage departments within their banking branches. Instead, these departments are usually centralized in separate locations, rendering the advantage of having multiple branches insignificant.

Strong Brand and Reputation

Banks, especially long-established ones, often carry a strong brand name and reputation that instills a sense of trust and reliability in consumers. Their history of successful transactions and customer service, coupled with their regulatory oversight, can provide a sense of security for those using them to obtain a home loan.

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This can make buyers and homeowners believe they are in capable and trustworthy hands. It’s pivotal to remember, though, that a strong brand and reputation don’t always equate to an infallible experience; it’s still essential to do your research and search for reviews.

Retention of Servicing Rights

One significant advantage of working with a bank for your mortgage is their tendency to retain the servicing rights for a longer period. This means that the bank is likely to continue being your point of contact for payment and administration of your loan for a considerable period, rather than selling your loan to another financial institution. 

However, it is important to note that just because your bank collects your existing mortgage payment it does not mean they own your mortgage. Most loan products are government-backed loans. This means that agencies like Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae purchase most of the conventional loans that banks originate and Ginnie MAE purchases the FHA and VA loans originated. 

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Longer Processing Time

Banks often cut costs in their operational structures and this is one of the components that allows them to provide low rates and closing costs. As a result, the mortgage application and approval process can take longer. The bank’s operations department, responsible for processing your loan, can be overworked due to the high volume of transactions they handle daily.

This high workload can lead to delays in the entire process, extending the period between your application and the closing. Therefore, if you’re working on a tight timeline, which is the case for most transactions in the Sunshine State, it’s important to factor in these potential delays when deciding to go with a bank for your home loan. The seller’s real estate agent will consider this factor when evaluating your offer in comparison to those from individuals working with lenders in Florida or mortgage brokers instead of a bank.

Less Experienced Loan Originators

A common drawback with larger banks is that they often do not provide competitive compensation to their loan originators. This leads to a higher proportion of less experienced loan originators handling customers’ transactions and is another reason why they often can provide low mortgage rates.

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However, buying a home is often the most significant financial decision a person will make. It’s important to recognize that less experienced originators may not have the comprehensive understanding and expertise to appropriately handle such substantial transactions, especially for clients that derive their income from self-employment.

Additionally, they may not understand how to accurately pre-approve clients causing issues once the loan enters the underwriting department. Therefore, when deciding to go with a larger bank for your home loan, it’s crucial to consider the experience level of the loan originators that the bank employs. I recommend you ask for references and reviews from the originator’s past clients. 

Conservative Lending Practices and Overlays

Banks are traditionally known for their conservative approach towards lending, primarily to mitigate potential risks. This cautious approach can extend to conventional, FHA, and VA loans, where banks may apply what are known as “overlays”. Overlays are additional requirements or stricter guidelines set by the lender beyond what is stipulated by the housing agencies.

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For example, if the minimum credit score requirement for an FHA loan is 580 as set by the agency, a bank may impose an overlay, raising this requirement to 660.

This ensures an additional layer of protection for the bank against defaults but may limit borrowing opportunities for prospective home buyers with lower credit scores. Similarly, for conventional and VA loans, banks may apply overlays related to debt-to-income ratios, property types, or down payment requirements. Therefore banks may not be ideal for clients in a specific financial situation looking for a traditional mortgage.

The Pros and Cons of Working With a Lender

Florida Mortgage Lender: LPC

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Working with a direct lender in Florida offers numerous benefits for home buyers, but it’s crucial to be aware of the potential drawbacks. Additionally, it’s worth noting that several of the largest mortgage lenders nationwide have branches or mortgage loan originators operating as Florida Mortgage Lenders.

Experienced Loan Originators

One of the significant advantages of working with a Florida lender is their team of seasoned loan originators. These professionals come with a wealth of experience in the Florida real estate market, and the mortgage products they offer.

Their extensive knowledge and insights into local trends can prove invaluable in providing personalized mortgage advice. Furthermore, experienced loan originators are adept at navigating the complex mortgage landscape, ensuring a smoother loan approval process and potentially expediting the journey to homeownership.

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They are well-equipped to work with first-time homebuyers. Hence, choosing to work with Florida lenders can enhance the overall home-buying experience by mitigating potential pitfalls that may take place at a bank with a less experienced loan originator.

In-House Underwriting

Another important benefit of partnering with a direct lender is that many of them have in-house underwriting teams.  Underwriters conduct a detailed review of the loan application, income, assets,  credit history, title, property appraisal, and more to ensure that the scenario meets the guidelines for the specific mortgage loan program.

In-house underwriting is often seen as a way of having a higher level of control and coordination throughout the loan process. The ability to communicate directly with the underwriter can also help novice loan originators pre-approve clients by allowing them to discuss a complex scenario with them before issuing the pre-approval.

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But keep in mind that the underwriter doesn’t make the guidelines for mortgage loans, they just follow them.

The guidelines for FHA loans are set by the FHA and for a Conventional loan, they are set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which are the agencies that govern these products. So a knowledgeable and resourceful loan officer gains little to no advantage by having an underwriter in-house.

Strong Brand and Reputation

Like Banks, many lenders may have  a strong brand and reputation as a mortgage company. However, when it comes to lenders that provides an advantage and a disadvantage which I will discuss in the cons section.  The advantage is that trust is a significant factor when dealing with financial matters, and established lenders often provide a sense of security to borrowers.

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These institutions have proven track records, lending legitimacy to their operations. Additionally, a strong lender reputation can influence the perception of others involved in the home buying process, such as agents and sellers, potentially facilitating smoother transactions.


Higher Mortgage Rates & Fees

One of the major downsides of working with a direct mortgage lender is that they often offer higher interest rates and closing costs compared to banks and mortgage brokers. Direct lenders often incur higher overhead costs, including expenses for underwriting, maintaining expansive operations departments, and marketing efforts such as Super Bowl commercials and sponsorship of sports arenas and stadiums. 

These strategies aim to increase consumer awareness and establish a stronger presence in the market, a common practice among the top mortgage lenders but they come at a cost to the consumer.

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Limited Rate & Program Options

Working with lenders who only offer one rate option presents a significant drawback: the inability to shop for the best rate. This lack of flexibility can potentially cost borrowers thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. Lenders with single-rate options can’t explore or offer competitive rates available in the wider market, which can result in higher interest costs for the client. 

Furthermore, the client’s specific financial circumstances, credit score, and property type may not sync well with the lender’s program offerings. This inflexibility limits the borrower’s ability to secure a mortgage that best meets their unique financial situation and goals. Hence, when selecting a lender, borrowers should consider the range of rates available, not just the lender’s reputation or the ease of the loan process.

Pros and Cons of Working with a Mortgage Broker

As a mortgage broker myself, I have an undeniable bias towards the benefits of working with a broker as opposed to a direct lender or a bank. Mortgage brokers often present a plethora of advantages to potential homeowners. 

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They serve as knowledgeable intermediaries who can navigate the complexities of the mortgage market on your behalf, offering personal guidance molded by your unique financial circumstances. Mortgage brokers have access to an extensive network of lenders, enabling them to shop for the most competitive rates and diverse loan options that can be tailored to meet individual client needs.


Variety of Loan Products

One of the biggest advantages is they have access to a wide variety of loan products as they work with numerous banks and lending institutions. This allows them to find the mortgage loan that best fits the borrower’s needs and financial situation.

Lower Rates & Fees for Borrowers

Brokers have access to wholesale interest rates which are lower than the retail interest rates provided by lenders. In addition, the laws that govern this industry limit mortgage mortgage brokers to earning a max compensation of 2.75% on all loans. Lenders do not have this oversight and often charge 3.5% – 5% on a transaction to cover their high costs of originating a transaction. The Association of Independent Mortgage Experts performed a study  that showed borrowers save on average $9,407 in costs and interest when compared to mortgage lenders.

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Local Expert Guidance

Brokers provide personalized service and guidance throughout the entire mortgage process. As small businesses, brokers are deeply rooted in the communities they serve, possessing extensive knowledge of their local markets. This proves particularly advantageous in the highly competitive real estate market in Florida.


Lack of a Strong Brand Presence

While mortgage brokers offer a variety of benefits, one downside is that they often lack the strong brand presence that established banking institutions and large lenders possess. This can impact initial consumer trust, as customers are more likely to feel secure dealing with a known entity, a national bank, or a lender with a widely recognized brand. 

The absence of a strong brand identity may lead some consumers to question the credibility and reliability of the broker, making it imperative for brokers to build trust through personalized service, transparency, and testimonials from satisfied clients.

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Limited Flexibility with Jumbo Loans

Mortgage brokers might not be the ideal choice for jumbo loans – mortgages that exceed the loan limit set by federal lending institutions. Unlike banks and some lenders, brokers often cater to a niche clientele when it comes to their Jumbo loan offerings.  While banks can accommodate the stronger borrower requiring a jumbo loan, brokers may struggle to match these offerings. However, they do have excellent options, particularly for borrowers who do not fit within the narrowly defined qualification criteria set by the banks.

All differences aside you should always do more research into the loan originator you are working with than the entity itself.

Look for Experience

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a Florida mortgage lender is their level of experience. Local lenders, banks, and brokers who are familiar with the Florida real estate market and its unique characteristics will be better equipped to guide you through the process and provide you with the best options. They are also more likely to have long standing relationships and a strong reputation as a loan officer with local real estate agents and builders who can help streamline your home-buying process.

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Research Rates and Fees

When it comes to mortgages, interest rates and fees can vary greatly. Be sure to research and compare rates, once you have decided the type of lending institution you want to work with obtain multiple quotes to ensure you are getting the best deal. Keep in mind that the lowest advertised rate may not always be the best choice overall; take the time to carefully review all associated fees and closing costs as well, and make sure they are preparing a strategy tailored to your needs and finances.

Consider Customer Service

Good customer service is crucial when it comes to finding the right Florida mortgage lender, bank, or broker. Look for a loan officer who is willing to answer all of your questions in a timely and clear manner, and who will work with you to help you achieve your goals. A lender who is responsive and attentive to your needs can make all the difference in a smooth home-buying process.

Check for NMLS Certification

The Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) certification is required for all mortgage loan originators in the state of Florida. The certification ensures that the lender meets certain standards and has passed any necessary exams. Make sure to check your potential loan originator’s experience and work history in  the NMLS consumer access portal. A loan officer’s work history can tell a lot about them. Most great loan officers do not bounce around from employer to employer.

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Read Reviews and Ask for Recommendations

Finally, spend some time researching potential Florida mortgage lenders, banks, brokers, and loan originators by reading reviews from previous customers and asking for recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Look for reviews that mention positive experiences with customer service, efficient processes, and overall satisfaction with the mortgage process. If a loan officer does not come highly recommended or does not have online reviews to show that may be a red flag that you do not want to work with that individual.


Choosing the right Florida mortgage lender is an important step in achieving your goal of homeownership. Be sure to consider the loan originator’s experience, rates and fees, customer service, NMLS certification, and online reviews to make an informed decision. With the right lender, bank, or broker by your side, you can rest assured that you are on the right path to finding your dream home in sunny Florida.

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