Looking to buy your first or next home in West Central Illinois? Choosing a mortgage lender can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. We created this guide to help you understand the process of choosing a mortgage lender so the homebuying process overall will be less stressful. From home mortgage options to local mortgage lenders and the mortgage questions to ask, keep reading for everything you need to know!


Shop Around For Lenders and Mortgage Options

Learn more about your mortgage lending options to determine which type of loan is best for your needs.
Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make, so look for a lender who has the expertise, reliability, and financing options for your specific situation. You also want to familiarize yourself with the different types of mortgages to be sure your lender of choice offers what you need. The two primary categories of mortgages are:

Conventional Home Loans

● The most common type of mortgage
● Conventional loans can be fixed or adjustable-rate
● Not subject to federal home loan program rules and requirements

Federal Home Loan Programs

● FHA, VA, and USDA loans
● Low and no-down payment options available
● Designed to help veterans, rural residents, and homebuyers with a lower income and/or credit score


Know What Kind Of Lender You Want or Need

Becoming familiar with the different types of mortgage lenders will help you understand how to find the best partner for your new home loan.
Just like there are different types of mortgage loans, there are different types of mortgage lenders to meet your needs. Which option is right for you?

Mortgage Lender: A financial institution or mortgage bank such as First Bankers Trust that offers and underwrites mortgage loans. Mortgage lenders set the terms of your home loan including interest rate, repayment schedule, and more.

Retail Lenders: Also known as Direct Lenders, they sell their own mortgage products directly to borrowers. Banks like First Bankers Trust are also a type of Retail Lender.

Portfolio Lenders: They originate and fund loans from their clients’ bank deposits so they can hold on to the loan and not resell them after closing. Usually include community banks like First Bankers Trust and other financial institutions. Offers flexibility, particularly for borrowers with lower credit scores or a high debt-to-income ratio. Can set their own loan terms because mortgages will stay in-house. Nice for borrowers to have the same servicer over the life of the loan.

Mortgage Broker: Independent, licensed professionals who act as the “middleman” between prospective homebuyers and mortgage lenders. Can look for the best loan offer for your situation and their relationships with lenders could help you get competitive rates and terms. Unlike Mortgage Lenders, Mortgage Brokers don’t fund loans, set interest rates, or charge origination fees.

Correspondent Lenders: A type of mortgage lender that originates and funds their own mortgage loans, and then quickly sells them to an investor or larger lending institution after the loan closes. This is why you could get your mortgage from one company and receive a notice that your loan has been sold to a different servicer that you will make payments to.

Wholesale Lenders: Unlike Retail Lenders, they never interact with borrowers. Instead, they fund mortgages and offer them to third parties at discounted rates. They also rely on Mortgage Brokers to help borrowers apply for a mortgage and work through the approval process.

Hard Money Lenders: Private investors who provide short-term loans secured by real estate. Hard lenders are concerned with the property’s value to protect their investment.



Benefits Of Working with A Local Mortgage Lender

There are benefits to working with a local mortgage lender that tend to make community banks a great fit for those in need of a loan.
As you can see, there are plenty of options when it comes to choosing a mortgage lender. However, there are certain benefits that only come with choosing a locally based mortgage lender.

Personalized Experience: Local lenders are able to work face-to-face with their clients and are more hands-on than a larger lender might be. You always have someone available to answer questions and explain uncertainties. They’re more willing to go the extra mile for their clients.
Local Knowledge and Expertise: Local lenders will be more aware of lending risks for certain areas. They have relationships with local real estate agents that can be helpful at the start of your home search or if there are any issues during the home buying process.
Reliability: Local lenders have a reputation for closing loans on a timely basis. They want you to be a source of referrals and good reviews to people you know for future business, which contributes to local lenders’ motivation to be more reliable and driven to provide excellent service and a positive experience.
Quick Turnaround: Local mortgage lenders like community banks can close a deal in less time because they tend to have relationships with real estate agents, title companies, and more that move the process along faster. Big banks or online banks typically take longer to close a deal. With a local mortgage lender, everything is usually taken care of in-house so there are fewer delays throughout the mortgage and home buying process.


Questions To Ask Your Lender

You likely will have questions after you get started with a mortgage lender, so be sure to get clarity on some of the important points listed here.
Once you choose a mortgage lender, set up an appointment to discuss your goals for homeownership and your current financial situation. These questions can help steer your discussion:

Which mortgage is best for me?

Ask your lender to recommend specific loan options and review the differences. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of each loan option.

What assistance programs do I qualify for?

Ask about state-specific loan programs and what the eligibility requirements are. Find out if any assistance programs can be combined to maximize benefits.

Also, make sure your credit and current finances are in good standings as some assistance programs may require a minimum income or credit score.

How much of a down payment is required?

While a 20% down payment is standard, requirements vary based on the type of mortgage loan you choose. Portfolio lenders like First Bankers Trust have more flexibility to work with your budget and come up with a down payment amount you can afford.

What will my interest and annual percentage rate be?

Your lender should be able to help you understand the concepts of base interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR). Ask what is included in the APR rate and have your lender explain the factors that go into deciding your interest rate. One important point to remember is that the bigger the difference between the base interest rate and the APR, the more the lenders are charging in fees

Should I lock my interest rate?

If you’re buying a home and suspect the interest rates could change before you get approved for your mortgage, you have the option to pay your lender to lock your interest rate. This means that, if the interest rate increases before the lender processes the loan, your interest rate won’t change.

Locking your rate could save you money if interest rates rise, but it could also mean you end up paying more if they fall.

What are all the costs?

The cost of your mortgage loan includes fees that go to the lender plus third-party vendor fees such as appraisals, credit checks, title fees, home inspection feeds, taxes, etc. Your lender will provide a Closing Cost estimate with all the costs included in the loan and closing for you to review.
Find a Mortgage Lender in West Central Illinois!
At First Bankers Trust, our experienced and locally based mortgage lenders can answer your questions and help you find the right home loan to meet your needs. With branch locations across West Central Illinois in Quincy, Macomb, Springfield, and Rushville, we are your local mortgage lender.


Contact a lender today!


Brenda Seals

1201 Broadway
Quincy, IL 62301
Office: 217-228-8005
Fax: 217-228-8097
Email: brenda.seals@firstbankers.com

Cynthia Mackenzie

Retail Bank Manager

2201 Wabash Avenue
Springfield, IL 62704
Office: 217-546-9194
Fax: 855-387-8788
Email: cynthia.mackenzie@firstbankers.com

Tony Gross

VP Mortgage Lending Officer

1201 Broadway
Quincy, IL 62301
Office: 217-228-8028
Fax: 217-228-8079
Email: tony.gross@firstbankers.com

Sherry R. Schaffnit


1201 Broadway
Quincy, Il 62301
Office: 217-221-8649
Fax: 217-228-8079
Email: sherry.schaffnit@firstbankers.com

Leslie Westen

Mortgage Loan Officer

440 North Lafayette Street
Macomb, IL 61455
Office: 309-836-4261
Fax: 309-836-1410
Email: leslie.westen@firstbankers.com

Joan Whitlow

AVP/Branch Manager

116 South Congress Street
Rushville, IL 62681
Office: 217-322-4378
Fax: 217-322-4379
Email: joan.whitlow@firstbankers.com