Types of Mortgage Lenders

November 4, 2023

Discover the various types of mortgage lenders and make an informed decision when choosing your lending partner

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you'll ever make, and choosing the right mortgage lender is a crucial part of the process. With over 17 years of experience in the Raleigh-Durham real estate market, my team at Tim M. Clarke Real Estate and I have seen firsthand how the choice of lender can impact everything from the interest rates you're offered to the speed at which you can close on your new home. Over the years, I've learned the ins and outs of working with mortgage bankers, portfolio lenders, direct lenders, correspondents, brokers and more. In this guide, I want to walk you through the major lender categories in plain terms, so you can make an informed decision when the time comes to choose your lending partner. Whether you're dealing with national banks or local lending shops, understanding the different types of lenders can help you make an informed decision. This guide aims to demystify the major categories of mortgage lenders, setting you up for a smooth home buying journey.

Understanding the Different Types of Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage Bankers

Mortgage Bankers are significant players in the home loan industry. They originate loans and create pools of loans, which are then sold to major investors like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others. While some companies sell their loans to these investors, others sell to mortgage bankers but still refer to themselves as such. It's important to note that the label "mortgage banker" doesn't necessarily reflect the size or strength of the lender.

Portfolio Lenders

Portfolio lenders offer a more personal touch, lending their own money and keeping the loans within their portfolio rather than selling them on the secondary market. This autonomy allows them to set their own creditworthiness criteria, often making them a good choice for borrowers with unique financial situations. These lenders can be larger banks or savings and loans institutions, and they may offer both portfolio products and traditional mortgage banking services.

Direct Lenders

Direct lenders fund their own loans, ranging from the largest banks to smaller entities. They might use deposits or warehouse lines of credit to fund loans. Direct lenders often fall into the categories of mortgage bankers or portfolio lenders, providing a direct path to loan origination without the need for intermediaries.


Correspondent lenders originate and close loans in their name before selling them to a larger lender or sponsor. This relationship allows them to offer the benefits of a direct lender with the added flexibility of working with a larger entity for loan funding and underwriting. It's a model that combines aspects of mortgage brokering and banking.

Mortgage Brokers

Mortgage Brokers act as intermediaries, originating loans with the intention of brokering them to larger lending institutions. They work closely with these institutions, which handle underwriting and funding, allowing brokers to offer a wide range of loan products to their clients.

Wholesale Lenders

Wholesale lenders provide loans through mortgage brokers, often at a lower cost than retail branches. They may not have retail branches themselves, relying instead on brokers to originate loans. This arrangement can offer competitive loan costs for borrowers, as brokers add their fees to the wholesale price.


Choosing the right mortgage lender is a critical step in the home buying process. By understanding the different types of lenders available in the Raleigh-Durham area, you can make an informed decision that best suits your financial situation and goals. Whether you prefer the personalized service of a portfolio lender or the broad options available through a mortgage broker, there's a lending partner out there for you.

Take the Next Step

If you're ready to embark on your home buying journey in Raleigh-Durham, contact us at Tim M. Clarke Real Estate. Our team is here to guide you through every step of the process, from choosing the right mortgage lender to finding your dream home. Let's make your home buying experience as smooth and successful as possible.

Tim M. Clarke

About the author

17 years as a Realtor in the Research Triangle, Tim seeks to transform the Raleigh-Durham real estate scene through a progressive, people-centered approach prioritizing trust & transparency.

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