Loan officers are employees of lenders, like banks and credit unions, or mortgage brokers. In the case of a one-person mortgage broker firm, the person is both the broker and the loan officer.

If a consumer tries to buy or refinance a home through a bank or credit union, the first step is to a loan officer who works there. A bank loan officer can only offer programs and mortgage rates that their institution makes available. A loan officer gets paid by the bank either by salary with standard benefits or through a commission for sales.

In contrast, a mortgage consultant works on a borrower’s behalf to find the best loan programs and rates available from multiple lenders.