a. Select a local mortgage loan officer.
With the rates hovering around historical levels, many part-time amateur "lenders" showed up in local newspapers' ads sections, they might have passed the exam, or worse, they are not even licensed, just act as "marketers". Only work with a local loan officer that is experienced in the entire process - underwriting, processing, appraising, and closing your loan with local expertise.
How about online sourced loans? Well, maybe you can get a quote from an internet site, but just ask yourself one question - what if the loan couldn't be funded, what recourse do you have? If you can afford such a gamble, it's Okay to work with a rock bottom online lender.
How to check your local mortgage lender, broker, and loan originator's background?
You can Google your state government's relevant departments with key words such as security, banking, licensing, and regulation, etc. because each state the regulatory departments are called differently.
b. Check your mortgage lender's credentials.
This website is worth bookmarking - The National Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS), it maintains a FREE site that provides consumers with access to the administrative and license information for state regulated mortgage lenders in all 50 states and the District.
At the site, you can search your proposed mortgage lender's licensing information, how long your loan officer has been in the business and with what businesses, whether the lender has been the subject of any state disciplinary proceedings.
Not all mortgage lenders are regulated at the state level, for commercial banks that have the word "National" or use the initials "N.A." (National Association) in their names, savings banks and savings and loan associations having the word "Federal" in their names or use the initials FSB (Federal Savings Bank), FSA (Federal Savings Association), FA (Federal Association), or FSLA (Federal Savings and Loan Association), they are regulated under the federal law. You can check this website to verify their information - HelpWithMyBank.gov.