A mortgage is the biggest investment most people will ever make. If you're going to use a mortgage broker for such an important transaction, be sure that you're working with the best. Here are some distinctive traits of the top mortgage brokers.

When pursuing a new mortgage, many people use a broker to help them find and close a home loan. The good ones earn their pay, simplifying an oftentimes complicated and confusing process. It takes experience and intelligence on the part of the broker to help you find the right loan. Make sure that yours has these four characteristics before using her on your investment.

1. Your best interests at heart

Beware of the mortgage broker who's desperate to close the loan. This will most likely be an individual who's selling the loan to satisfy her own personal interests, not yours. Your professional should carefully help you evaluate a mortgage within the context of your financial situation. Steer clear of the broker who tries to get you to commit to a larger mortgage by insisting, "It's only a little extra each month."

2. Detail-oriented always delivers

Mortgages can be ridiculously complex financial transactions. Hundreds of details can easily fall through the cracks if your broker isn't on top of his game. As you interview prospective brokers, give high scores to those who call you back quickly and are punctual for meetings. Ask for a list of references from vendors who they do business with, such as appraisers and title companies. These people depend on a detail-oriented brokers as much as you do.

3. Straightforwardness

Desperate mortgage brokers play the low-ball game when they're hunting for loans. Look out for those who promise you the world. These individuals are generally playing a bait-and-switch game, hoping to lure you into their clutches. Either they're going to try to pass through some hidden fees, or change your rate at the last minute. It's the only way they can deliver on something that's too good to be true.

4. Forthright about fees

Most brokers work hard for their money, and they deserve to be fairly compensated. If one is honest and brings value to the tables, he'll have no problem disclosing her compensation. Be on guard against those who become skittish about fees or avoid discussing them.

Fortunately, you should never have to worry about finding a mortgage broker who displays these positive traits. The best brokers never have to seek out new customers. They do such an effective, honest job that they generate referrals. They're in it for the long-term, not just a quick buck, and they're the professionals you want. The more referrals they have, the more they can be relied on to deliver an excellent mortgage.

Published on July 3, 2008