Mortgages & Creative Financing

Real Estate Financing: How to Choose Between Bankers, Mortgage Bankers & Brokers

Expertise: Mortgages & Creative Financing
12 Articles Written

Have you ever been confused about whether your loan officer is a banker, a mortgage banker, or a mortgage broker? Did you even know that there were three types of individuals to help you with your investment property financing? Does the individual work for a bank, or do they work for a broker? Which is most common?

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These are just some of the questions that I hope to answer in this post today. Over the last 5-10 years, there has been a major shift in who does what in the lending world. I would estimate that before the financial crisis in 2008, there were are lot more mortgage brokers than there are today. As new regulations have come out with the Dodd-Frank Act and everything associated with that, there has been an increasing discrepancy between a banker, a mortgage banker, and a mortgage broker.

The Difference Between Bankers, Mortgage Bankers & Brokers


A banker is an individual who works for a bank or a savings and loan institution. The bank is usually a brick and mortar business. Banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, and US Bank are all examples of places where bankers work.

Traditional banks usually offer a suite of financial services — anything from checking and savings accounts to wealth management and investment advisory services. The banks are also required by law to provide loans with a percentage of their deposits. These loans include personal loans, auto loans and mortgage loans.

Related: Why You Can Sometimes Pay More With Good Financing: A Message to the Naysayers

When a banker originates a mortgage loan, the banker is lending a fraction of the bank’s deposits. (Actually, it’s a little more complex than that, but I won’t go into it here.) Some advantages of getting a mortgage loan from a bank include competitive rates and one stop shopping for your all of your financial needs. On the other hand, the disadvantages include a small range of products, usually very conservative underwriting, long processing times (especially for refinance loans), and usually the appraisal and underwriting is managed through national channels.

Mortgage Banker

A mortgage banker is an individual who works for a bank that only specializes in mortgage lending. Mortgage banks are typically started with a warehouse line of credit (from a big bank), and their sole job is to originate mortgage loans. Some examples of mortgage banks are Stearns Lending and Quicken Loans. Eventually a mortgage bank will use their own capital to lend to the consumer.

When a mortgage banker originates a loan, they have the same advantages of banks, including competitive rates, but they usually also have in-house underwriting, which allows them to close loans quicker, local appraisers who know the market a little better, and often have more products to get into niche loans. Some disadvantages include no physical presence for servicing issues (since they lend their own money), and they offer no other financial products if you want a one stop shop.

Mortgage Broker

Lastly, a mortgage broker is an individual who works for an autonomous real estate organization who brokers (acts as a middle man) a bank or mortgage bank's money. A broker can have one relationship or as many as they want with banks in terms of who they do business with. They are often required to be licensed by a state's department of real estate as well as the national mortgage licensing system (NMLS).

Some advantages of mortgage brokers include a wide variety of products, competitive wholesale rates, and typically a local presence. Some disadvantages of mortgage brokers include non-localized underwriting and no other financial products (similar to that of the mortgage banker).

Typically a bank will focus on the products that make them the most money, and those are the cookie cutter, residential, owner-occupied loans that makes up a large percentage of the real estate lending market. They have an endless supply of leads as they are often the first place a primary home buyer (or refinancer) would look to shop for a mortgage. As noted above, they don’t typically cater to the investor market unless youre deposits are with that bank, in which case they may help you for the first couple of loans you work with them. But any loan that is out of the ordinary and doesn’t fit the “typical” requirements, well, good luck!

Related: When the Bank Cut Me Off, I Had to Get Creative With Financing: Here’s What I Learned

Mortgage bankers usually focus on similar products as banks, but in many cases they have the ability to broker out their atypical loans to other mortgage banks as well, which is definitely an advantage. Mortgage brokers have the ability to go really deep and find hard money lenders and private investors to broker their loans to. They both can typically do small commercial loans (depending on your state).

So what’s the point of all this? Well for you as a residential real estate investor, I hope it guides you in the right direction as far as where to find financing. I would say that traditional banks are probably not the best place to start when going to find a mortgage for an investment property. A mortgage broker or a mortgage banker has many more advantages as far as finding niche products. They are usually localized in your market and usually offer the competitive advantage of being able to get creative with financing and solutions. Both mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers can close quickly, which is an advantage in purchasing property, as it adds another dimension to offers for purchase.

What are your experiences with residential real estate lending? Have you found someone that is more helpful than another?

Leave a comment, and let’s talk!

Jeff Trevarthen is a mortgage advisor at CrossCountry Mortgage and lends in all 50 states. With 16+ years in real estate finance, Jeff is an expert at coming up with creative loan solutions for all...
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    David Storman from Orange, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great post. It certainly helped to clarify things for me.
    David Zachery from Louisville, Kentucky
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Great article. I’ve been wondering the difference of these professions. Thank you for the pluses and minuses of each.
    Jeff Hensel Lender from San Diego, CA
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Good article. Thank you. I would have thought hard money lenders would be broken out into their own section as opposed to just being a resource for a mortgage broker.
    Mia Boyd
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thanks for the information. I’ve been wondering which type of help I should hire, so these tips were really helpful. After reading everything, it seems like a finance broker would do the best job for my company. I believe that’s exactly what we need. Do you have any other tips?
    Caleb Hart
    Replied over 5 years ago
    My wife and I have been looking for a professional like this. We are not sure who to go with, because this is our first time going through this process. We need to find somebody this weekend to help us with buying a house. I need to get this done before next quarter because we are moving for my work.
    Taheem Bellz from Atlanta, Georgia
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Solid post, thanks for clarifying which lending professional is better for an investor to work with.
    Julie Myers
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Thank you so much for clarifying the difference between a banker, a mortgage banker, and a mortgage broker. I have been trying to find some help getting a mortgage, but I want to get a good rate. After reading your article, it sounds like a mortgage broker might be best, because they work with many different banks. This way I would be able to get more options and learn about different banks\’ rates. Thank you for sharing more about this!
    William M. from Brooklyn, NY
    Replied about 5 years ago
    Awesome post have incorporated the broker with my strategy
    James Bay
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    I have never known the difference between these. My wife and I will be applying for a mortgage soon. I like how a mortgage banker works for a bank that specializes in mortgages. Thank you for your help.
    Veronica Marks
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    Thanks for explaining the difference between a banker, mortgage banker, and mortgage broker. For someone like me who is new to the investing world, it\’s confusing to keep all these things straight. Articles like this are extremely useful, and I will have to keep this in mind next time I\’m looking for a loan!
    James Rod
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    I like that mortgage brokers can offer a local presence. For me, having someone local who understands my needs is priceless. The next time that I have to choose between a banker or mortgage broker, I\’ll choose the latter. I think they just best fit my needs.
    Scott Johnson
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    As someone who’s been trying to buy my first house, I have been very confused about all of the people I’m supposed to be seeing and getting in touch with, so thank you for the helpful post. I didn’t know that a mortgage banker specifically works for a bank that only deals with mortgage loans. I think I’ve still got a lot of work to do and things to research before I start looking at houses, but this post has definitely gotten me onto the right path.
    Sandy Tull
    Replied almost 5 years ago
    That was a great article about the different type of mortgage makers! While banks are the most commonly known, it’s always a great idea to ask a friend or an associate who knows something about this business who can direct you to the right people. I personally love the idea of Mortgage brokers, but Mortgage Bankers can be great as well!
    Grant Shipman Rental Property Investor from Denver, CO
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Thanks so much for writing! I’ve been listening to the podcast, and over and over again a host or guest says something like “going for a local bank is the best because the local bank gets to know you, doesn’t require repeat loan applications, and can offer portfolio loans.” As a newb, could you help me out and comment on this anyone?
    Jeff Trevarthen Lender from San Jose, CA
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Here’s a video I put together regarding this same topic.