Some Calgarians may choose to undergo the entire mortgage process with minimal professional assistance, but hiring a qualified mortgage specialist for your home buying needs does offer benefits. Finding and hiring a good mortgage broker can impact your ability to find a suitable home or an appropriate mortgage program.

That said, it isn’t exactly preposterous to hear about unscrupulous practices involving mortgage professionals, so even the decision of which mortgage broker to hire is a crucial one.

As with many monumental life decisions, the best referrals come from the people whom you trust: your friends and family. You may also want to ask for recommendations from your tax advisor or your real-estate agent.

Of course, choosing a qualified, competent, and trustworthy mortgage broker doesn’t end with referrals. While you will probably receive well-intentioned advice, it’s always a good idea to ask why a friend or a co-worker is recommending a certain broker.

Do Your Homework

As you narrow down your search to a candidate or two, it would be wise to conduct a bit of research on your prospective broker. Is he or she a member of any association or organization for mortgage brokers? Some organizations such as the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals (CAAMP) require individuals with the Accredited Mortgage Professional (AMP) designation to adhere to certain ethical standards, so it’s a plus if your candidate bears that designation.

From a basic Web search, you might be able to find information on your candidate’s qualifications and industry experience. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has filed complaints against the broker. If you find any red flags, then be more cautious with your dealings with the individual. Better yet, go back to square one.

Ask More Questions

Next, you’ll want to meet with the broker and interview him or her. Start by asking a few basic questions such as “How long have you been a mortgage broker?” or “How many lenders have you worked with?” to get the ball rolling. Basically, you want to get a better idea of your broker’s working relationship with the lenders and real-estate agents in your area.

See whether you’ll be able to work with your broker comfortably. When answering questions, does he or she provide clear answers that relate to your situation? You want to know that your broker will listen to and address your needs and goals. As an adviser, the broker should present ideas and suggestions that sound pertinent to your situation. He or she should be able to explain in plain English the implications of certain mortgage programs on your financial wellbeing.

Is the broker quick to provide sweeping, overly confident, or overgeneralized answers? Mortgage rates constantly ebb and flow, and you want your broker to acknowledge the uncertainties of the market. You don’t want a broker who candy-coats reality, much less one who is completely oblivious.

Pricing Matters

By this time, you should have done your own homework on current mortgage rates and packages. Spend some time looking for the best rates on the Internet, then see if your broker can find something to match it.

During your discussions with the mortgage broker, he or she should come up with a good faith estimate of the fees and charges you’ll have to pay for your mortgage. Transparency is key here. Ask to see an itemized list that clearly and explicitly explains each component of the total fee.

In addition to full disclosure, you may want to ask your broker for a written promise that fee estimates won’t unexpectedly shoot up upon closing. While some mortgage brokers may claim that rates are locked, you can go a step further by asking for the lender’s commitment letter. That way, you’re at least protected until the mortgage is closed.

At the end of the day, the decision to go with a broker is supposed to make the process of buying a home easier for you. If you can’t trust your broker to find better deals for you, then you may as well redirect your efforts to a different Calgary mortgage broker.