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What Is Correspondent Lending?

Kevin Graham5-minute read

May 19, 2021

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When you're first looking to buy a home, it may seem like there’s an overwhelming number of options. Not only do you have to deal with figuring out what the house you need, but also determining the best loan option for you and who should you work with.

The number of decisions you have to make in order to choose a mortgage lender alone can be a lot to handle. Today, we're going to talk about just one of those lending options, correspondent lending.

What Is Correspondent Lending?

Correspondent lending happens when a lender originates and funds a mortgage, but then sells that it to an investor. The investor will then also sell the mortgage, typically to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or a government entity like the FHA or VA.

Correspondent lending helps the mortgage industry overcome many of the problems inherent in portfolio mortgage lending. Portfolio mortgage lending involves a lender giving you money for a mortgage and then holding that loan for up to 30 years while waiting for the mortgage to be paid off at the end of the loan term.

Very few lenders hold mortgage loans in their portfolio for a long period anymore because waiting for the payoff can make it extremely hard to come up with fresh capital to make more mortgage loans. This also causes a home affordability problem because it makes mortgage funding harder to come by because potential lenders would need a ton of cash on hand.

What happens the majority of the time now is that lenders fund your loan. Then that loan is sold to one of the major mortgage investors mentioned above and your lender gets the funding to make more loans.

A correspondent lender often services your loan, meaning they do things like collect your payment and maintain your escrow account. Your relationship with that lender doesn’t have to end just because your loan is sold.

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Correspondent Lender Vs. Mortgage Broker: What’s The Difference?

There is sometimes confusion between correspondent lenders and mortgage brokers, so let’s take a minute to briefly touch on the distinction.

A correspondent lender handles all the functions associated with mortgage origination. They can take your application, underwrite your loan to make sure you qualify and fund the loan.

A mortgage broker will take your application and collect all necessary documentation from you. However, their role is to shop your application around and make sure you get the best deal you possibly can given your qualifications. Once they’ve found a lender to work with you, that lender does some of the heavy lifting involved with actually making your loan, including underwriting and making sure it gets funded. If that lender is a correspondent lender as most are, they’ll also handle selling the loan on the secondary market.

Correspondent lenders like Rocket Mortgage® often work hand-in-hand with mortgage broker partners. These mortgage brokers provide the face in the community who a client can meet with to understand their goals and provide a face-to-face connection. At the same time, Rocket Mortgage provides underwriting and funding services that a local partner may not have the capital or staff for.

A Correspondent Lending Example

To help put this in context, it’s probably not a bad idea at this point to move forward with an example. Let’s say a qualifying veteran has just been discharged from the military and is looking for their first home. They choose to work with Rocket Mortgage.

We take their application, collect all necessary documentation, schedule an appraisal and handle all the underwriting that needs to be done for them to qualify. When the loan closes, we provide the funding.

Within a few months after the loan closes, we sell the loan on the secondary market to the VA who then makes their money by putting that mortgage in a mortgage-backed security (MBS) to sell to investors on the bond market. We take the money we got from the VA and use it to make more loans to aspiring home buyers or people looking to refinance to accomplish a goal.

Because Rocket Mortgage is also a servicer, our relationship with the borrower doesn’t end when the loan is sold. We forward principal and interest payments to the MBS investors and also maintain our client’s escrow account if they have one.

Who Can Use A Correspondent Lender?

Because correspondent lenders work with a variety of mortgage investors, you can find loans for a great many goals including purchasing single-family homes and condos or multifamily properties as well as second homes and investment properties. This makes correspondent lenders a good choice for a wide cross-section of the public.

Pros Of Using A Correspondent Lender

There are numerous benefits to working with a correspondent lender. These include the following:

  • Because correspondent lenders work with a variety of mortgage investors, they may have a wider variety of products available than a portfolio lender like a credit union or other bank that might hold the loan on their books.
  • Because of the established relationships with so many mortgage investors, a correspondent lender is likely to have a good idea of the different conditions that need to be met for approval as well as exceptions to any guidelines that may be dependent on personal circumstance. This can help you get through the approval process that much faster.
  • When you go with a correspondent lender, what you’re getting is all the accompanying connections and experience. With a wide portfolio of options, a correspondent lender is likely to be able to help you find a desirable mortgage that meets your situation as quickly as anyone.

Cons of Using A Correspondent Lender

While this isn't true of every correspondent lender, there can be cons to picking the wrong one. Here are the potential pain points to be aware of:

  • Some lenders charge extra fees. Make sure you're aware of what you're paying for and everything is broken down and explained in a way that makes sense.
  • Because correspondent lenders are selling to major mortgage investors, those investors have policies that need to be adhered to. If a loan is not up to standards set by the investor, they can send it back to the correspondent lender. That lender has then could in theory reach out to you for more information to correct whatever the problem is. However, if they do their job up front, this shouldn’t be an issue.

Read the reviews when you’re looking for a reputable lender. It’s worth noting that Rocket Mortgage has won the last 11 J.D. Power awards for Primary Mortgage Origination and has won 7 straight years for Mortgage Servicing. 1

The Bottom Line: Correspondent Lenders Make Mortgage Shopping Easier

Correspondent lenders are those who take loans through a whole origination process before selling those loans to major mortgage investors. Correspondent lenders like Rocket Mortgage still service many loans, and so the relationship with the client doesn't end when the loan closes.

Correspondent lenders are sometimes confused with mortgage brokers. Mortgage brokers don’t originate loans, but instead focus on getting their clients the best possible deal. Mortgage brokers often find themselves partnered with correspondent lenders.

The main advantage of working with correspondent lenders is the variety of loan programs they can offer you based on their relationships with many of the major mortgage investors. As with any major transaction, it’s worth reading the reviews and checking the fee structure, but working with a correspondent lender can be a great option for most people in the mortgage markets.

If you think you’re ready to get a mortgage, you can apply online. Also feel free to give us a call at (833) 326-6018.

1 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans received the highest score in the J.D. Power 2010 – 2020 (tied in 2017) Primary Mortgage Origination and 2014 – 2020 Primary Mortgage Servicer Studies of customers’ satisfaction with their mortgage sales experience and mortgage servicer company, respectively. Visit jdpower.com/awards.

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Kevin Graham

Kevin Graham is a Senior Blog Writer for Quicken Loans. He specializes in economics, mortgage qualification and personal finance topics. As someone with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia that requires the use of a wheelchair, he also takes on articles around modifying your home for physical challenges and smart home tech. Kevin has a BA in Journalism from Oakland University. Prior to joining Quicken Loans, he freelanced for various newspapers in the Metro Detroit area.