Regardless of where you’re looking for a home – there will be mortgage companies of all sizes who would like your business. It’s important to visit multiple lenders when you’re ready to start the process of buying a home – they can offer different terms and rates based on your financials and homebuying scenario. If you’re looking for a home in Chicago – you’ll have the option of many lenders at your fingertips.

What to Look for in a Mortgage Company in Chicago?

Open and Honest

This might seem like a no-brainer – but some companies out there won’t have your best interest in mind. Finding a lender that you trust can sometimes be tricky. When you sit down with a lender or loan officer for the first time – make sure they explain everything clearly and respond to your questions with straightforward answers.

Excellent Communication

Going above and beyond to make sure you’re in the loop from application to closing is one of the biggest things you should look for when finding a lender. If you’re unfamiliar with the home buying process, you can quickly get lost in the new information and documents. Being able to get thorough answers when you need them will help keep you at ease and the process on schedule.

Process Driven

Running all loan processing and operations in-house lets a lender and client to always be on the same page. It makes providing documents and signatures simple – allowing for informed and on schedule home buying.

Willing to Go Above and Beyond

Your lender and loan officer should always be willing to go above and beyond (within reason) to make you feel comfortable during the homebuying process. There are many things they should and can be doing to keep you involved and informed from beginning to end.


Lenders need to be compassionate towards their clients because each home buying scenario is unique. If the lenders you visit don’t take the time to listen and adjust their process to your needs – then they might not be worth your hard-earned money.

The best mortgage company in Chicago is the one that works best for you! There are many unique home buying scenarios and lenders will have different programs available to you. That’s why it’s important to discuss your options and terms with multiple different Loan Officers or lenders.

The Mortgage Process

If you’re unfamiliar with the mortgage process – read below to learn about the basics from start to finish! Most lenders should follow a similar process – and it could vary slightly based on the mortgage program you qualify for.

Finding a Lender | Completing an Application | Getting Pre-Approved

Once you find a lender and are ready to start the application process – the communication and information will start flowing. Most mortgage applications are filled out online these days, but you can always request a paper application.

If you’re just starting to get familiar with applying for a mortgage – here are some of the common information and documents, you will have to supply to a lender:

  • Current and Past Employment History
  • Credit Score
  • Desired Loan Amount
  • Gross Monthly Income
  • Assets (Bank Accounts, Retirement Savings, etc.)
  • Debts (Credit Cards, Delinquencies, etc.)
  • Previous homeownership

Once you supply the lender with these documents, they will review them and hopefully come back to you with a pre-approval. Once you’re pre-approved, you’ll receive a certified letter from your lender that details how much they are willing to lend you.

Shopping for a Home | Working with a Real Estate Agent

Now that you’re pre-approved – you can start shopping for a new home with confidence. Most borrowers tend to work with a real estate agent, and with your pre-approval, they will work with you to find a home that suits all your needs and that is within your budget.

Once you find your dream home, it’s time to make an offer. Being patient while you make an offer is important – People selling their home are often reviewing multiple offers, coordinating the purchase of their new home, and living their life on top of it all. If they accept your offer, your lender will move forward with the process and order an appraisal.

Getting an Appraisal is an important part of determining your loan amount. Once you have your eyes set on a home, you want to make sure you’re paying the right amount for it. This will depend on location, the amount of money the sellers have put into the home, and the size of the property. There can be many factors that go into determining the value of a home, but an official appraisal is a requirement for every mortgage to close.

Choosing a Mortgage Program | Behind the Scenes

When it comes to choosing a Mortgage Program – there is one main factor that will determine the options available to you – your Down Payment percentage. If you can afford the traditional down payment of 20%, you will be offered mortgage programs under a conventional loan program. Conventional mortgage programs are offered by private lenders and are not backed by a government-sponsored entity (GSE).

If you’re seeking assistance with a down payment or closing costs, there are plenty of non-conventional mortgage programs that lenders can offer. If you’re looking to learn more about the different types of mortgage programs – check out this article on the most common mortgage programs – (LINK FOR POWER PAGE #1). Remember, different lenders offer different programs, making it important to meet with more than one.

Now that you’ve found the home of your dreams and know what mortgage program you’ll be using – behind the scenes work will start. While the lender should do most of the heavy lifting, they will rely on you for information they can’t obtain without your permission. During this time, your lender will verify all the information you provided to them. They will also be obtaining the title documents, preparing your closing disclosure, double-checking your insurance policies, and completing any other necessary steps to get your mortgage cleared to close.

Throughout the processing of the mortgage, the lender will determine your closing costs based on the services provided. They will present them to you on a document called the Closing Disclosure for your review. Once everything is verified and agreed to, your loan will be sent to their closing department for the final touches.

Once your mortgage is fully processed, you’ll do a Final Inspection of the home before closing. The final inspection and walkthrough are separate from the appraisal and a crucial step in the process. This is where you will double-check to make sure the appliances work, the structure is sturdy, and everything the seller said about the house is true. If you find out that the seller wasn’t being truthful, you can back out of the deal before closing.

Closing on the Home | Move-in Day

Now that your mortgage has completed the core of the process and you’ve verified the final inspection, it’s time to schedule the closing, pay the closing costs, and sign the final documents. While you’ll start to get excited to move into your new home, it’s important to be patient during this time. All parties involved will need to find a day, time, and location that works for everyone.

This process can take anywhere from a week to a month (or longer) but your lender will give you an estimated closing date early on in the process. If you have any more questions about finding a lender in Chicago – or would like to start the home buying process today – reach out to Neighborhood Loans!


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