WA State Mortgage Loan Officer: What to Look For

October 8, 2020
Last updated:
January 10, 2024
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If you are planning on buying a home in the Evergreen State, you need help from seasoned mortgage professionals. Knowing how to choose a mortgage loan officer in WA State can make the home buying process easier and help you get the best possible terms for your Washington home loan.

A mortgage loan officer in Washington State can be an individual working at a commercial bank, credit union, other financial institution, or an independent mortgage company. Their job is to match home buyers with the right loan product to achieve the highest chances of a successful home purchase. It’s important to partner with the right mortgage loan advisor to ensure your loan application is properly handled and processed.

Why do I Need a WA State Mortgage Loan Officer?

Trying to compare and contrast multiple loan products can make buying a home in WA State feel like a confusing chore instead of an exciting adventure. A mortgage loan officer brings industry specific knowledge and experience to the table. They know the right questions to ask about your current finances and future dreams and can recommend the best home loan products for your situation.

Without a mortgage loan officer on your side, it’s all too easy to get bogged down in the loan application process. In an effort to secure your new home purchase, you could end up with a home loan that ends up being problematic in the years ahead. A professional can guide you through the confusing world of discount points, closing costs, and amortization schedules to take the stress out of your home purchase experience.

What Does a Mortgage Loan Officer in WA State Do?

A mortgage loan officer is the main point of contact when you begin the home loan application process. They might work with you over the phone at first to gather basic information about you, your income, any co-applicants, and the size and type of loan you need. If you’ve applied online, they’ll pick up where the online application process ends.

Based on this initial consultation, your loan officer can present you with the loan options that best fit your needs and finances and help you fill out your loan application. They might recommend a 20, 25, or 30-year fixed rate mortgage, and can walk you through your options and answer loan-related questions.

WA State Mortgage Rates

Preapproval vs. pre-qualification

Your mortgage loan officer also can guide your pre-approval process. A pre-approval is a thorough review of your application, credit and supporting documentation. A pre-approval is different from and superior to pre-qualification, which is another service offered by many lenders.

Pre-quals can be done very quickly with little effort, as they don’t include a review of your supporting documentation by an underwriter. Agents and home-sellers can be hesitant to accept an offer with only a pre-qualification letter. Even if you do manage to get a home under contract, pre-qualification doesn’t protect you against unexpected surprises later in the loan process.

In contrast, a pre-approval is exactly what it sounds like: an approved loan application backed by your lender. At Sammamish Mortgage, we urge our clients to pursue the complete mortgage pre-approval process. Real estate agents and sellers can then be confident that our clients are qualified to purchase homes they make offers on.

You’ll need to give permission for your mortgage loan officer to run a credit report to complete your preapproval. If your credit score is too low for the loan product(s) initially selected, your loan officer can advise you about ways to raise your score. They may also be able to provide you with alternate home loan products that are available to home purchasers with lower credit scores.

Who Else Is Involved in the Mortgage Loan Process?

A large bank might have an entire network of people and software applications working on each loan. A smaller credit union could have only one or two employees handling initial consultations and preapproval processes. At Sammamish Mortgage, our loan officers and other mortgage experts handle your loan application as it works its way from pre-approval to closing.

Transaction Coordinators

The transaction coordinator is in charge of the loan application and approval pipeline. They constantly monitor all applications assigned to their review, and communicate with your loan officer who will keep you updated on the status of your home loan. Your transaction coordinator works closely with loan processors to gather the documentation required for application analysis and verification.


Processors are in charge of the segment of the loan process that concerns verifying application data. They’ll request documentation that supports the information you provided during the pre-approval stage. Typical documentation a processor will ask you for includes:

  • Updated pay stubs
  • Updated bank statements
  • Explanations for any credit report discrepancies or inquiries
  • Large deposits showing on your bank statements

Once you’ve satisfied all requests from the processor, they’ll hand your file off to an underwriter.


Underwriters review the data gathered by the transaction coordinator and verified by the loan processor. They make the call on whether your mortgage loan request is granted or declined. Factors taken into account include:

  • Calculating the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio (the loan amount compared to the appraised value of the home)
  • Evaluating your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio (how much you make compared to your outstanding financial obligations)

If these ratios fall within acceptable ranges, the underwriter can approve the mortgage and issue a WA State mortgage loan commitment. If you fall short in either area, the underwriter may consider other information before making the call. They might allow the mortgage under certain conditions, such as selling another property to meet equity requirements or purchasing private mortgage insurance (PMI).


The underwriter will send your approved loan to the funder. Your funder will confirm that all conditions on the mortgage loan and home purchase are complete and documented. They will check to make sure that:

  • The property title is clear
  • All insurance and taxes have been paid
  • Any requirements laid out by the underwriter are met
  • Any escrow or down payments have been handled

Once all conditions for the sale are satisfied, the funder will coordinate closing with the settlement agent. They will deliver all required documents and wire monies on the correct date, completing the home purchase.

What are the Different Kinds of Mortgage Loan Officers?

Larger financial institutions as well as online banks and fintechs may use a digital-only approach. You likely will be contacted by an inexperienced Call Center Loan Officer or you might not work with another human being until well into the loan application process. If there is any complexity at all to your situation, you might find the process stalls out and you have to wait for a real person to get back to you.

At a smaller bank, you might deal with an overworked bank official who handles new loan applicants as well as a hundred other daily tasks. Getting in touch with them or obtaining updates on the status of your loan application could be difficult. There’s only so much a small staff can do to process mortgage loan applications, and at certain times of year or at the end of the month tasks can pile up.

Whoever your mortgage loan officer is, their goal should be to provide you with the best advice possible regarding home loan products. A good loan officer is responsive and transparent, not just another warm body at a desk going through the motions.

What Should I Look for in a Mortgage Loan Officer in WA State?

Want to know how to choose a mortgage loan officer in WA State? Look for signs of expertise and integrity. You want someone on your side who knows the industry and is committed to providing you with the best outcome possible.

How do you know if a mortgage loan officer is truly knowledgeable and transparent? Start by asking questions you already know the answers to, and note if they answer confidently and accurately.

As you move into more complex territory, watch for vague answers or evasions. If they don’t know an answer, it’s more honest of them to say so and follow up promptly with the correct answer after researching than to try to bluff their way through.

Remember that a mortgage loan expert isn’t your all-in-one financial advisor. They can’t answer questions about future interest rates or the investment market, and shouldn’t try. Be wary if someone tries to push you into a loan product based on predictions of future trends.

Loan Limits Overview

When you apply for a mortgage, you won’t necessarily be allowed to take out any loan amount. Borrowers need to understand loan limits, which are dollar limits placed on a mortgage. Different types of loans have different limits.

  • Conforming loan limits are caps placed on loans that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae guarantee.
  • FHA loan limits are dollar caps placed on loans that the Federal Housing Administration backs.
  • VA loan limits have been eliminated since 2020, but some borrowers may still be subject to them if they currently have a couple of VA loans or have defaulted on one in the past.

Loan limits are assigned to each county in every state across the country and usually increase at the start of every year to reflect the growth in home prices.

Check out our mortgage loan limit tool for conventional, FHA, and VA loans.

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Why Choose a Sammamish Mortgage Loan Officer?

At Sammamish Mortgage, we strive for a personalized experience for each mortgage applicant. That’s why we employ a full staff of experienced, salaried mortgage loan officers, transaction coordinators, and processors.

Mortgage loan approvals is all we do, so every member of our team is highly experienced. If your personal loan officer is out for the day, or it’s the weekend and you need to talk to someone about your loan, someone will be available to you.

Sammamish Mortgage has been in business since 1992, and has assisted many home buyers in the Pacific Northwest. If you are looking for mortgage financing in Washington State, we can help. Sammamish Mortgage offers mortgage programs in Colorado, Idaho, California, Oregon and Washington.

Contact us if you have any mortgage-related questions or concerns. If you are ready to move forward, you can view rates, obtain a customized instant rate quote, or apply instantly directly from our website.

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