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Jack Guttentag, Mortgage Professor

Jack Guttentag, who runs an advice site called the Mortgage Professor and has retired as a business professor at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, likens choosing a lender to picking wild mushrooms. "You don't go out by learning to identify all the bad ones," he said. "You identify some good ones, and you go and pick those." But, he added, "some lenders are not so great, and they have some really good loan officers."

Other governmental and quasi-governmental sites may be helpful. The National Mortgage Licensing System has a consumer access site that allows visitors to check the backgrounds of mortgage professionals. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation site has a worksheet to help consumers compare lender policies.

But Mr. Guttentag says you can't always rely on recommendations on review sites or mortgage listings sites. These can be paid for or written by friends of the mortgage lender, he said, adding that the same holds true for complaint sites, which are often created with a particular business as a target.

Another problem with the complaint sites, he said, is that larger companies often draw more complaints simply because of the large volume of business they do. "In many cases they're not justified," he said.

Vetting the Lender
Published: September 22, 2011
Industry experts suggest that borrowers focus more on the individual who would be their mortgage broker, loan officer or loan originator.


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