Top Questions About Becoming an MLO
From what's an MLO, to what's sponsorship and how to get licensed, this is a great resource to start with as you learn the ins and outs of the mortgage industry.
What is an MLO?
MLO is short for mortgage loan originator, or more commonly known as a mortgage loan officer. An MLO is a licensed mortgage professional who helps consumers to obtain a mortgage or other home financing. Their job includes advising on the different loan options, rates and terms available from lenders and guiding them through the application process. An MLO is responsible for originating the loan, which is the process of taking a consumer’s loan application, submitting for approval and overall managing the process until the funds are disbursed.
What’s the difference between an mlo, mortgage loan officer and mortgage loan originator?
Each of these terms refer to the same role: a licensed mortgage professional who helps consumers to obtain a mortgage or other home financing.
What does origination mean?
Origination is the process through which a borrower applies for a new loan and a broker or lender reviews the application and ultimately facilitates disbursement of funds.
What is an mlo license?
An MLO license is the license that a mortgage loan officer or originator receives in order to originate loans. There are both national requirements for mortgage loan officers and state-level requirements that vary in each state. These include passing an exam, completing relevant coursework and completing background and credit checks.
What is a loan officer?
A loan officer is a licensed mortgage professional who helps consumers to obtain a mortgage or other home financing loan. This includes advising on the different loan options, rates and terms available from lenders and guiding them through the application process.
What’s the difference between a lender and broker?
A lender directly provides loans to consumers, whereas a broker acts as an intermediary between the consumer and multiple lenders to find the best loan options.
What’s the difference between a lender and a loan officer?
A lender is any kind of financial institution that lends money. A loan officer works either for or with a lender to assist consumers in obtaining mortgage or other home financing.
What’s the difference between a broker and a loan officer?
A mortgage or loan broker typically works with multiple lenders to find the right loan for a consumer, while a loan officer typically works directly for a single lender or mortgage company.
Do you need a college degree to be a loan officer?
It is not required to have a college degree to become a loan officer. Having a degree in finance, business, or a related field can be helpful because it provides future MLOs with a strong foundational knowledge when it comes to home financing. Courses in these programs often cover essential aspects like risk assessment, financial markets, and lending principles.
What are the requirements to be a loan officer?
To become a loan officer, one typically needs to be 18 years old, hold a high school diploma or GED. Candidates must complete at least 20 hours of federally mandated coursework and may also need to meet additional state-specific educational requirements. Passing the SAFE Test is also required, as is registering with the NMLS, which includes a background and credit check. Periodic continuing education and license renewals may also be required.
How do you get your mortgage license in multiple states?
How many states can you be a loan officer in?
There's no limit on the number of states where you can be licensed, but you must meet each state's licensing requirements.
What is mortgage sponsorship? Is it required?
Mortgage sponsorship refers to a licensed mortgage company taking responsibility for a loan officer, allowing the officer to conduct lending activities under the company’s license or licenses.
Is sponsorship by a lender or broker required?
New loan officers operate under a sponsor to ensure legal compliance and consumer protection.
What is the loan officer exam?
The exam to become licensed as a mortgage loan officer, also known as the SAFE MLO Test, assesses your knowledge of mortgage loan origination, including federal laws and regulations. The SAFE Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 required all loan officers to pass this test.
What’s covered in the SAFE exam?
The SAFE exam covers federal mortgage-related regulations, general mortgage knowledge, a range of mortgage loan origination activities, and ethics.
What’s a passing grade for the SAFE exam?
A passing grade for the SAFE MLO exam is 75% or higher.
How long do you have to wait to take the SAFE exam if you don’t pass it?
If you don't pass, you must wait 30 days before retaking the exam. After failing three times, the waiting period increases to six months.
What types of loans can a mortgage loan officer do?
MLOs can handle various types of loans, such as conventional loans, government loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA loans, among others.
What is NMLS?
The NMLS (Nationwide Multistate Licensing System) is a centralized platform for the licensing and registration of financial services providers, including mortgage loan officers.
Do loan officers have to register with NMLS?
Yes, an MLO must register with NMLS and maintain their registration to operate legally.