Understanding the mortgage loan process

If you’re considering buying a home, your loan officer will pair you with the right home loan for your situation. Loan officers have an in-depth knowledge of dozens of types of loan programs and their requirements. In addition, loan officers must be licensed and maintain their license through continuing education courses that keep them up to date with federal law and regulations, fair lending and consumer protection, lending standards and mortgage origination.

Your loan officer can also provide a ballpark estimate of how much you can borrow. This process is known as pre-qualification for a mortgage and can be started quickly online, in person or over the phone.

When you decide to move forward with buying a home, your loan officer’s role is to help with the steps involved in getting a mortgage, including facilitating the mortgage application process. You can expect your loan officer to collect and review the financial documents needed to issue a pre-approval letter that shows sellers how much home you can afford.

The six steps of the mortgage loan process

If you’re a first-time homebuyer or looking to learn more about the mortgage loan process, find out what to expect from your loan officer every step of the way—from applying for a loan to closing.

  • 1. Get pre-approved

    When considering buying a home, applying for a home loan and getting pre-approved is the first step on your journey to homeownership. Pre-approval helps you find a price range for your home search and gives direction on how much you should save for a down payment. In addition, because the mortgage pre-approval process includes submitting a loan application and securing financing, it can accelerate the closing process. While a pre-approval letter doesn’t guarantee a home loan, it can make your offer stand out and make negotiations easier because it shows a seller that you’re a serious buyer. In fact, many sellers require a pre-approval letter with your bid.

    During this step, your loan officer will provide a timeline and let you know what you need for your application, such as proof of income, tax returns and asset statements. At this time, your loan officer will explain which types of mortgage loans you qualify for to help determine which loan is the best option for your personal situation.

    When shopping for a home, you want to know that you’re working with a partner you can trust throughout the process. Under Guild Mortgage’s Credit Approval Protection program, if we issue a preliminary credit approval from underwriting but are unable to close the transaction, we will pay up to $1,000 for inspections, appraisals or relocation expenses incurred for the home purchase.

  • 2. Respond quickly during the mortgage application process

    Once your application is submitted, your local lending team will make sure all the proper documentation has been gathered and is ready to move to the processing step. They help prep your mortgage application to ensure the fees are accurate for your loan disclosures.

    Then, a loan processor will assemble and verify your documentation and create a loan file. Lastly, an underwriter will evaluate your credit history, assets, as well as your employment, income and current debts. They’ll also assess the value and condition of your purchase property.

    Your responsibility during this stage is to respond quickly to your loan officer’s questions and requests for additional information to ensure everything can move forward on time. If your loan officer has a team, a loan officer assistant may be your main point of communication at this stage. A loan officer assistant understands the mortgage loan and application process and is qualified to speak with you about your loan.

  • 3. Lock in your rate

    If you’re worried about rising interest rates, your lender might suggest a mortgage rate lock. Our Lock and Shop program protects your interest rate for 120 days while you search for a home.* If rates go down, you can take advantage of our one-time float down option. Contact your Guild loan officer for more information about this program.

  • 4. Hunt for a home and make an offer

    After developing a list of what you need and want in a home, a real estate agent can compile a list of homes to visit that fit your criteria and your budget. An agent will also help you navigate the entire homebuying process, including coordinating with a team of professionals such as inspectors, title companies and your loan officer.

  • 5. Prepare for the clear to close

    Shortly after the purchase agreement is signed, your lender will let the appraisal desk know when to order a home appraisal (when applicable). An appraisal is the process of evaluating a property’s fair market value, conducted by a licensed, professional real estate appraiser. Appraisal reports determine if a home’s sale price and your requested loan amount are appropriate. The report is sent directly to your lender. Your loan then moves on to the underwriter, finalizing all the figures and determining whether the loan is clear to close.

  • 6. Review your closing documents

    Once the underwriter issues final approval, your loan officer will schedule your closing appointment and explain what to expect when you close on buying a home. Your loan officer will have your paperwork ready for you to receive and sign, including legally binding documents such as your Closing Disclosure and promissory note, the mortgage or deed of trust and the deed.

    During closing, you’ll pay for your down payment and closing costs and make an initial deposit in your mortgage escrow account. You’ll also need to show proof of homeowners insurance. With closing finalized, the transfer of ownership occurs, and you’ll be handed the keys to your house. So get ready to move in and enjoy your new home!

The Guild way

Loan officers help you mind the details of the mortgage loan process so you can focus on what matters to you. The best loan officers strive to understand your needs, unique circumstances and goals through a personal connection, serving you long after your loan closes.

We’re fortunate to have received thousands of positive comments about how our loan officers keep clients informed throughout the entire mortgage loan process. Here’s what just a few of our happy homeowners have to say:

TestimonialTree review
TestimonialTree review
TestimonialTree review

Home is more than just a house—it can be the starting point for a whole new life. We’re here to help you make it happen. Connect with an experienced loan officer to get started today.

*Upfront lock-in fee required at the time of lock.

The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs and interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply. Always consult an accountant or tax advisor for full eligibility requirements on tax deduction.

Share this story, choose your platform!

Mary Ann McGarry is the CEO of Guild Mortgage. Under her leadership, Guild has grown to become one of the largest and most experienced independent mortgage lenders in the U.S. with close to 4,000 employees and 205 retail branches in 33 states. Ms. McGarry has received multiple awards and accolades for her leadership and Guild is consistently recognized for its positive contributions to the communities it serves, commitment to customer service and collegial workplace culture.