Light posting lately because I'm undergoing yet another move. Some of the things I'm experiencing with my mortgage this time around lead me to offer this advice:
Borrow local. Ask your realtor to recommend some good local mortgage companies or banks (or better yet, credit unions) and shop them for the best rate. Even if a national lender offers a slightly better interest rate or lower fees, my experience is proving that it's not worth it.
For one thing, with a smaller, local lender, you can get more personalized service. Establishing a personal relationship with your lender will benefit with you in lots of ways throughout the mortgage process; it's difficult to list all the little ways your borrowing will improve, but those factors will all add up to a more positive experience.
And a local lender will know the local appraisers on a personal level. That makes them more likely to hire good appraisers. I have to say, in all the real estate transactions I've had, my experience with appraisers has been almost universally negative. And this time, using a large lender based out of state, it's worse than ever. They don't KNOW these appraisers, they just got them off a list, and so the work I need done remains on the bottom of a large stack. If I could go back a few weeks and give myself one piece of advice, it would be to choose a different lender, one where I can get my loan servicing in person, not by dozens of emails, faxes, and unanswered voicemails.
Here's a thought; even if you don't borrow local, make sure you can get the direct extension of the individual account manager or loan support person who is handling your mortgage loan. If your lender has you calling into the call center and getting put on hold every time you need to speak to them, find another lender.