What is a Mortgage Loan Originator: A Detailed Guide to Understand An MLO’s Job Description

Buying a home is a lot like having a baby.  You need a team of experts on your side if you want to feel confident, in the know, and calm.  And a mortgage loan originator is one of those experts you definitely want on your team. 

So, what is a mortgage loan originator? 

How do they fit into the home buying process? 

What role do they play? 

You may be an aspiring mortgage loan originator (MLO), or you may want to buy a home, but you don’t know what role an MLO plays. This article will walk you through everything you need to know and understand about the MLO’s duties, role, and responsibilities. 

Understanding the Role MLOs Play in Real Estate Purchases

In the simplest of terms, an MLO is someone who shows prospective homebuyers how they can give the best mortgage experience, and then, they go on to facilitate that experience. 

According to the California Department of Business Oversight, “A mortgage loan originator (MLO) is an individual who, for compensation or gain, or in the expectation of compensation or gain, takes a residential mortgage loan application or offers or negotiates terms of a residential mortgage loan.”

“…takes a residential mortgage loan application” = sales. 

“…negotiates terms of a residential mortgage loan” = customer service


Their job includes both sales AND customer service or customer experience. It is the best of both worlds.  

The truth is… 

Mortgage loan origination isn’t a solo sport. 

You need to function as part of a team. 

You need to educate AND empower your customer to help them choose, process, and close a loan so they make a decision that’s the best for them and their needs. 

A mortgage loan originator, MLO, is a. k. a. loan originator, mortgage broker, mortgage banker, and loan officer. The MLO is the homebuyer’s primary contact person throughout the entire home loan process.  

An MLO is usually employed by credit unions, mortgage companies, banks, or real estate companies. 

As an MLO you need to have great communication, sales, and customer service skills to lean on at every stage.

You cannot (and should not!) take this role lightly because you have a lot of responsibilities and duties on your shoulders. 

What Does a Mortgage Loan Originator Do?

Now we’ve talked often about the benefits of becoming a mortgage loan originator, but if you’re unclear about the duties of an MLO, read on! 

As the name suggests, the MLO originates the loan and ensures that integrity is maintained through the loan process between the borrower and the lender. 

The job description of an MLO includes: 

  • Relationship development with realtors, builders, and bankers to ensure both adequate inflow of leads of loan applicants and a smooth process for clients. 
  • Scrutinize and screen loan applications. 
  • Interviewing prospective loan applicants. 
  • Review the financial background of applicants/borrowers to ensure they’re in good standing and can be reliably given a loan. This involves running credit reports and establishing creditworthiness. 
  • Communicating with lending institutions and negotiating loan interest rates and terms on behalf of the borrower. 
  • Protect the lender from lending to borrowers who may default or not be able to pay the loan. 
  • Protect the borrower by giving them complete information about the loan choices, terms, and rates so they aren’t caught unaware when the time to pay comes around. 

Study.com describes the additional duties of a mortgage loan originator as follows: 

  • “Overseeing the loan process from application to closing
  • Calculating rates and pricing
  • Maintaining knowledge of the company’s loan products and procedures
  • Following up with customers”

As you can see, a mortgage loan originator has a hefty role to play in the home buying process, which is why this role requires a license and is treated with the gravity it deserves. 

How to Become a Mortgage Loan Originator ?

Now that you know what an MLO does from start-to-finish, here’s how you can take the first step towards becoming a mortgage loan originator. 

The MLO industry is governed strictly by both federal and state regulatory bodies. 

To become an MLO, you need to take a mandatory 20-hour pre-licensing class and pass the NMLS SAFE exam. 

Here’s how you can find the BEST NMLS-approved course providers for your online pre-licensing class. 

And… drop your details below to grab our FREE NMLS Success Kit that walks you through every step you need to take to get your shiny MLO license! 

Grab our FREE NMLS Success Kit to take your first step towards becoming a mortgage loan originator.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at 800-991-6097 Ext 2 or email us info@affinityreservices.com or visit our website at www.mlotrainingacademy.com.