Shopping UMLs was the best way to shop until January 19, 2012 when the CNL network on this site became the best method to shop.

Comparing UMLs With the CNL Network
July 7, 2003, Revised May 18, 2007, November 5, 2008, Reviewed July 6, 2009, August 27, 2011, April 21, 2012

There are currently 7 Upfront Mortgage Lenders(UMLs) listed here, and 5 Certified Network Lenders (CNLs) listed here. The 7 UMLs are on 7 different sites while the 5 CNLs are all on this site. Each UML uses its own unique format to provide information to potential borrowers. The CNLs operate on a network that uses one uniform format. Shopping UMLs was the best way to shop until January 19, 2012 when the CNL network on this site became the best method to shop.

Finding Whether or Not You Qualify

If you have any question about this, the CNL network allows you to qualify yourself before proceeding further, which can save a lot of time. None of the UMLs have qualification routines, so if you don't qualify, you will find out about it some time after you initiate contact, and possibly not until you pay some fees.

Finding Lenders Who Price Your Market Niche

"Market niche" refers to any deviations from what lenders consider the ideal applicant. The ideal applicant has excellent credit, is a citizen or permanent resident alien, is purchasing or refinancing a single-family detached house as a primary residence, will not take cash out of the transaction if refinancing, will not have a second mortgage at closing, will fully document income and assets, will escrow taxes and insurance, is the sole borrower (or, if one of several, all will occupy the property), has enough cash from own sources to meet down payment requirements and settlement costs, and has sufficient income to meet standard maximum ratios of housing expense and total expense to income.

To determine which UMLs price your market niche, you must visit each of their web sites and check the UML’s table of Market Niches Priced on Line. To determine which CNLs price your niche, you enter your financial data once and the prices that emerge are from the lenders who price your niche.

Finding the Kind of Mortgage That Best Meets Your Needs

To shop UMLs, shoppers must do their homework beforehand so that they know the kind of mortgage they want -- whether it is fixed-rate or adjustable, the term if it is fixed-rate and the initial rate period if it is adjustable. None of the UMLs provide guidance on these decisions.

In contrast, shoppers on the CNL network receive state-of-the-art decision support. This includes estimates of total cost over the period the shopper expects to have the mortgage, for each mortgage type. It also includes risk measures for each adjustable rate mortgage.  

Selecting the Interest Rate/Fee Combination That Best Meets Your Needs

A second important decision borrowers must make is the combination of  interest rate and upfront lender fees that best meets their needs -- the higher the rate, the lower the fees. On UML sites, this decision is combined with selecting the mortgage type, which can be confusing. On the CNL network, the two decisions are separated; the user selects the best mortgage type first, and then selects the best rate/fee combination on that type of mortgage. Decision support is provided at each step. 

Finding the Best Deal on Third Party Settlement Costs


The certification rules for UMLs do not apply to how they select third party service providers, including title insurers and mortgage insurers. The prices of third party services posted by the UMLs can vary widely. The borrower who selects the lowest-cost loan from a UML may not be getting the lowest-cost third-party service providers.

In contrast, shoppers on the CNL network can compare the prices of third party services provided by the firms selected by their lender with the prices posted by other providers  directly on the network. If the prices of the independents are lower, the borrower can direct the lender to use those providers.
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