Mortgage underwriting is currently in high demand, and many lenders are looking for qualified candidates who are able to help fill these open positions across the country. If you are a job seeker with a finance industry background, have strong attention to detail, adapt well to learning new software systems, and are a strong analytical thinker, then you may be the perfect fit for an underwriter or loan processor career. Here are some of the responsibilities of a mortgage underwriter and the essential qualifications needed to thrive in the industry.
What is a Mortgage Underwriter?
Mortgage underwriters are financial experts who are responsible for verifying a borrower’s income, assets, debt, and property details to determine whether the applicant will get approved for the loan, and how much of a risk the lender will take on if approved. This is a position that requires someone who is extremely detail-oriented, with the ability to comprehend financial components that are relevant to the loan process. Oftentimes, underwriters will use software systems to analyze the applicant’s data and then apply critical thinking skills to ultimately make informed decisions about the loan approval.
3 Steps to Becoming a Mortgage Underwriter:
1. Previous Experience
Just like any other career, job seekers who are looking for a career in mortgage underwriting will be expected to have some level of experience. Recent graduates will likely start in a Junior Loan Processor or Customer Service role. In these roles, the employees will learn more about the lending process and become familiar with industry guidelines–ultimately preparing the employee to advance into a more senior underwriter role in a few years.
There are training courses and certifications that can help elevate a candidate’s resume, as well. The National Association of Mortgage Underwriters (NAMU) is a leading provider for mortgage underwriter certifications in the United States.
Since mortgage lenders must comply with federal regulations and guidelines, it’s also preferred for employees to have training on specific regulatory statutes. For example, loan processors and underwriters may be required to have knowledge of TRID guidelines or Freddie Mac requirements.
A college education is not always required to become a mortgage underwriter, but it could be an added benefit to help better prepare you for the role. While many schools do not offer specialized degrees in mortgage underwriting, there are still courses and degree programs that can help a candidate develop necessary skills and knowledge needed to be successful in the field. Since mortgage underwriters are in charge of reviewing loan applications and assessing risks related to financial factors, it would be beneficial for a candidate to choose Business Administration or Finance as their area of study.
3. Skill Set and Values
There are many valuable hard and soft skills that a candidate should possess in order to be a successful mortgage underwriter. Mortgage applications can be extremely long and tedious. Underwriters and mortgage processors must be detail-oriented and have adequate analytical and time management skills in order to be efficient through the loan process. For example, some employers will expect mortgage processors to complete a certain volume of loans every week or month, otherwise known as a Minimum Monthly Production Standard.
Communication is key throughout the underwriting process. Underwriters must be able to communicate well with the loan originator and closer, collaborating to get the necessary information needed to analyze and complete the borrower’s application. There will also be instances when applicants will get flagged or rejected, and underwriters are responsible for relaying that information to loan officers so that the applicant will be informed on the reasons why they were not approved. Without an open flow of communication, there could be negative impacts on overall business outcomes.
Furthermore, underwriters are the people who stand between a loan officer and their sales quota. They also are the middle-man between a lender and it’s Fair Housing Act requirements.
There may be times when underwriters feel pressure from outside sources to approve or deny applicants. That said, it is important that candidates have a strong commitment to ethics and following the rules and regulations of mortgage lending, no matter what.