Working with Mortgage Brokers: Tips and Advice

The process of finding and buying a home can be complicated and stressful, but you don’t have to go it alone. A real estate agent can help you to find the right house; a mortgage broker can help you get the best deal. 

Everyone understands what the former does and why they need them, but many first-time buyers often overlook the services of a mortgage broker.

The question is, what is a mortgage broker, what services can they provide you with and should you work with one?

What is a Mortgage Broker?

A mortgage broker acts as an intermediary between you and the mortgage lender. The broker has your best interests at heart, working with the lender to help you secure the home loan you need at an interest rate you can afford.

Mortgage brokers are fully licensed and regulated. They know enough about mortgage companies to understand what makes them tick and help you secure the best rate from the many different lenders out there.

The broker will pull your credit report, gather documents pertaining to your income, creditworthiness, and affordability, and work as the middleman throughout. Once you find the best mortgage lender for you, the broker will help you file the loan application and work closely with the mortgage underwriters to ensure everything runs smoothly.

As a first-time homebuyer it can be very helpful to have someone like this on your team. It can feel like you’re entering the home loan process blindfolded, with little more than references and advice from friends and family to guide you. 

It’s not a hugely complicated process, but when it’s your first time, a lot of money is at stake, and you’re trying to juggle your everyday life with all these new demands, it can feel overwhelming.

How do They Get Paid?

A mortgage broker can be paid by the borrower, but more often than not they are paid by the lender. The mortgage lender pays the broker anywhere from 0.50% to 2.75% of the total mortgage amount on average. This means that on a $100,000 loan, the broker could be earning $500 to $2,750.

It can seem like a lot of money for one mortgage acquired for one buyer. However, once you consider all the work that goes into this process and the length of time it takes, as well as the fact that mortgage brokers are highly specialized individuals, it begins to look like a bargain. More importantly, you’re not the one paying the fees, so you don’t need to worry about them.

If you have any experience with affiliate companies or lead generation, it’s kind of the same thing, but on a much grander scale. Simply put, the mortgage lender needs customers and they get those customers through the broker, rewarding them with a small share of the profits in exchange.

Are Mortgage Brokers Fair?

You could be forgiven for thinking that mortgage brokers are only interested in earning money and will steer you down whatever path earns them the highest share. However, their only goal is to find the right mortgage rates for you and as long as you get a mortgage in the end, they won’t care. 

They’re getting paid either way and it doesn’t benefit them to focus on a single lender. They’ll look at all mortgage products and loan options; they’ll compare all lenders, and they’ll remain with you throughout the mortgage process. That’s all that matters, and you don’t need to worry about favoritism.

Mortgage Brokers vs Loan Officer

The main difference between a mortgage broker and a mortgage loan officer is that the former works as a middleman between you and the lender, while a loan officer works directly for the lender and is paid a salary by them.

A loan officer is also employed by just one mortgage lender, while a mortgage broker works with multiple lenders. 

Do I Need a Mortgage Broker?

The mortgage process can take a lot of time and it’s time that you might not have. If you’re busy and you’re going into this process blind, we recommend working with a mortgage broker or at least looking at ones in your area to see what sort of benefits they can provide you with.

In any case, whether you’re working directly with big banks and credit unions or going through a mortgage broker, it’s important to study the interest rates and closing costs closely. Are you getting cheaper rates but paying huge closing costs? Are you paying over the odds for your origination fee just to get a few fractions shaved off elsewhere?

A mortgage is something that may stay with you for several decades, and if you make a bad decision now, you could pay thousands or tens of thousands extra in that time. 

Always check the loan terms before you sign on the dotted line and commit to the home purchase. It’s also important to understand the house prices in your area and to have a good grasp of the current housing market. If there is any doubt that the market is about to go into freefall, you may be better off waiting for a year or two. 

Real estate is usually a sound investment that increases in value over time, but if you buy at the height just before a crash, that house may lose a lot of its value in a short space of time and take years to recover.

Finding a Mortgage Broker

We usually don’t advocate asking friends and family for advice when it comes to things like this. After all, the internet exists, and you can “ask” millions of people for their opinions at the press of a button, so why would you focus on one person?

However, when it comes to local mortgage brokers, this is one of the best tactics. You trust your friends and family to give you an honest opinion and when you don’t have a lot of reviews to read through and a lot of information to check, that opinion could be invaluable.

This works best if you have multiple people to ask. The problem is, many of them probably had a good experience and as they likely only worked with one mortgage broker, they’ll probably only gave that one recommendation to make. So, compare recommendations from different friends, see if any of them match, and pay more attention to the friends who have worked with several different mortgage brokers.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com

The Market Crash Is Coming! (…Eventually)

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Here on the Best Interest, I provide a lot of “you should be investing!” advice. I talk about the power of long-term investments. And stock market strategies. And even about my specific investment choices. But today is different. Today’s post is about the upcoming market crash. Well…it’s coming eventually.

Perhaps you’ve come to believe that I’m an unwavering bull. A pure optimist. That I think investments can do nothing but increase in value. But that’s not true. I know the crash will come. It always does.

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And that might seem scary. If the crash is coming, then why not do something about it? So that’s what today’s post is about. Even though we’re aware that a market crash is coming (eventually), we can take a step back and think about it rationally.

Being a Bull Before the Market Crash

Here’s a prediction.

I predict that I will eventually make a blog post where I say something like,

“I bought some shares of an index fund this month—just like every other month. And I think it’s one of the smartest things you can do as an investor.”

And after that future blog post, the market will proceed to fall 30% over the next few months.

Some people will then look at the Best Interest and think, “Pfff! This guy Jesse doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about! He invested a few thousand bucks right before the market crashed!! What a dummy!”

I’m calling it now. It’ll happen. And I understand why it will appear like I’d be a dummy.

So let’s dig in. Am I a dummy?

Dummy Test GIFs | Tenor

Historical Data: The Market Crash Always Comes

The market crash always comes eventually.

Bear markets—where the stock market value drops by 20% or more from its previous high—have occurred 12 times since 1929.

Years of Bear Markets Percent Drawdown from Previous High
1929 – late 30s (Great Depression) -86%
1956 – 57 -22%
1961 – 62 (Flash Crash of ’62) -28%
1966 -22%
1968 – 70 -36%
1973 – 78 (Bretton Woods + Oil Crisis) -48%
1980 – 82 -27%
1987 – 88 (Black Monday) -34%
1990 -20%
2001 – 05 (Dot Com Bubble) -49%
2008 – 09 (Financial Crisis) -56%
2020 (COVID) -32%

The market ebbs and flows, oscillating between “unsustainable optimism and unjustified pessimism.” If we believe the assumption that stock prices are current unsustainably optimistic, then it’s believable that a serious bear market could happen in the next few years.

But lesser corrections—typically defined as at least a 10% drawdown—occur even more frequently. Since 1950, there have been 37 corrections of 10% or more. That’s more frequent than one every two years.

It doesn’t take Nostradamus to predict a future market downswing. I’m not calling a 1-in-1000 event. Market corrections happen all the time.

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“But if he gets elected…!!!”

You can find arguments from both sides of the political aisle that certain parties lead to better stock market performance. But let’s investigate the data itself.

First, let’s look at the president only. But heed warning: this is a slightly dangerous game. Does the president alone have enough influence to affect the stock market? Will the answers we find here be conclusive of causation? Or will they only present correlation?

From 1926 to 2020, we have 95 years of S&P 500 data. During that time, we’ve had 48 years of Democratic leadership and 47 years of Republican leadership. Republican years saw an average S&P 500 return of 9.0%, while Democratic years saw an average return of 14.9%.

That’s a pretty big difference! But is it causal i.e. one thing causes the other to occur? Can a system as complicated as the stock market be tied down to a single influencing variable like the president’s political party? Probably not.

After all, that’s only 23 presidential terms and 15 individual presidents. Eight Republicans and seven Democrats. Not exactly a huge sample set.

Keep this in mind for the next time a President tweet-brags about the stock market’s success.

President + Congress

But there is another working theory worth inspecting. The theory is that our government is more efficient when the Congress (both Houses) is controlled by the President’s party. If the President and Congress work together effectively, then we all benefit. It’s a “teamwork makes the dream work” situation.

In the 95-year period since 1926, we’ve had 48 years of President/Congress unification (14 years Republican and 34 years Democrat) and 47 years of division (33 with a Republican president and 14 with a Democrat). The market performance during these periods is very interesting.

President / Congress S&P 500 Average Annual Return
Dem / Dem (34 years) 14.5%
Repub / Repub (14 years) 13.9%
Dem / Repub or Split (14 years) 15.9%
Repub / Dem or Split (33 years) 7.0%
Total Unified (48 years) 14.3%
Total Divided (47 years) 9.7%

Is this causal? Does a unified Federal government ensure that the economy and stock market perform better? I doubt it’s conclusive. But it is interesting nonetheless.

The market trends upwards no matter who is in office, but it appears that political cooperation might help grease the wheels.

The Silver Lining of Market Crashes

Back when we consulted Mr. Market, one big takeaway was:

The only two prices that ever matter are the price when you buy and the price when you sell.

Ask yourself: what are your investing plans are for the next few years? Are you going to be a buyer—someone who is investing for the future? Or are you going to be a seller—someone who has invested for the past few decades and now wants to live off those investments?

If you’re a buyer, then a market crash has a pretty significant silver lining. Cheaper prices! If the market declines, then you get to invest at lower prices. It’s the easiest way to increase your long-term investing potential. Buy low, sell high. Dollar-cost average investors relish these chances to decrease their cost basis.

If you’re a seller, let’s look at how your past 30 years have been. The S&P 500 value was around ~350 in 1990. And now it’s at ~3500, or about 10x higher. If the market drops 20% next week to 2800, then your returns are only ~8x compared to 1990. But an 8x return ain’t bad!

“If the market crash is coming…why not sell now and wait to re-invest after the prices drop?”

Before I answer the question above, let’s consult Peter Lynch—who is considered one of the most successful investors of all-time.

Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections than has been lost in corrections themselves.

Peter Lynch

What exactly is Lynch saying? How do people lose money by “preparing” for corrections?

People lose money “preparing” for corrections because they sell too soon and then don’t know when to buy back in. It’s that simple. Both actions—selling too soon and not buying back in soon enough—can cause investors to miss out of years of growth and years of dividends.

That’s why Peter Lynch’s quote rings so true. Timing the market is hard.

So we don’t sell in preparation for a crash. But what about saving up cash and waiting to buy? Why not hold cash, wait for the 10% drop (that we know happens every 2 years, or so) and buy in then?

Well, I looked at that too. Back in March ’20, my “Viral Stock Market Strategies” article (get it? viral?!) looked at an assortment of supposed strategies that involved holding onto cash while waiting for the market to drop. I back-tested these strategies against the historical S&P 500 data, and simple dollar-cost averaging beats all the “wait for a drop” strategies.

You think there’s a market crash coming? I know, me too (eventually). There’s certainly a chance that holding onto cash and waiting for the crash is correct right now. But if you try that tactic over time, it’s a losing strategy.

Don’t sell. And don’t wait to buy. Carry on with your normal investing cadence.

Don’t do something. Just sit there.

Jack Bogle

“But what if it’s the crash?!”

What if what’s coming is the big market crash? The mother-of-all-crashes! What if society falls apart? Or if a meteor hits Earth and life changes as we know it? What if we all start scavenging for beans and scrap metal and fuel for our souped-up dirt bikes?

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Mad Max – where fuel and water are all that matter.

Scary questions, but they have a pretty simple answer. If an existential threat ruins your investments, then the stock market will be the least of your worries. That’s it. If “the big one” hits, then the stock market will be one of many societal structures that no longer matter.

If it’s not “the big one,” then the market will recover. It always does.

Why? Why does the market always bounce back? In part, it’s because humans are resilient. We learn and grow and work towards progress. While this year’s COVID market recovery can be attributed to many different factors—like the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates—it can also be attributed to human resiliency.

If “the big one” is coming, then shouldn’t you just “YOLO” and spend your money now? Yeah, you should. I suppose we all need to do some probability analysis.

  • What are the odds that “the big one” is about to come and you look stupid that your investments become worthless?
  • What are the odds that “the big one” never comes and you wish that you had invested in your younger years to enable retirement?

I’ll take my chances and save for retirement.

Crash Landing

So, am I a dummy? I hope I’ve convinced you otherwise.

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Even though we know that the stock market will eventually succumb to 10%, 20%, or even larger drawdowns, there’s no basis that you’ll benefit by trying to wait or time that market crash. It might work, but it usually doesn’t. That’s what the historical data tell us.

Waiting for the election doesn’t matter either. Democrats, Republicans…the market does its own thing. There might be some causality, but it’s tough to tell.

There are silver linings in corrections and crashes. If you’re investing for the long-term, then corrections enable cheaper prices and greater returns.

And if this market crash is “the big one,” then none of this really matters. It’s hard to blog if the electrical grid fails.

If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

This article—just like every other—is supported by readers like you.

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Tagged crash, stock market, timing

Source: bestinterest.blog