When you’re shopping for a mortgage, you can go directly to multiple lenders to find out what rate you may be offered, or you can work with a mortgage broker. Because they act as concierges who find you a number of quotes at once and do the application paperwork for you, mortgage brokers can help secure you an affordable loan at a competitive rate.

Still, working with a mortgage broker has its advantages and disadvantages, so you should know how the process works before you commit to using a mortgage broker. The following are four things you should keep in mind to understand how to work with mortgage brokers.

1. Find a broker you can trust. Ask for referrals and look at customer reviews before selecting a mortgage broker to work with. The right broker often is more accessible than the average loan officer and will work hard to find you the best possible rate, but the wrong broker can take advantage of you to maximize their commission or even inflate their bonus by enrolling you in a mortgage you can’t afford. You need to make sure you can trust your mortgage broker.
2. Do your own homework before meeting with any mortgage broker. While a broker will look up rates for you, it’s always best to know what rates are available to you ahead of time. Do your own research to know what rates and terms are out there. You’ll be better able to assess your options– and you’ll know if a broker may be working against your best interests.
3. Understand that you generally will be responsible for paying the mortgage broker a 1% commission. Working with a broker isn’t free. It’ll generally cost you about a 1% commission when the mortgage is issued. Still, this cost may be worth it if your broker finds you a great deal that will save you significantly during the life of the loan.
4. Choose the best loan option for your needs– which isn’t always one offered through a mortgage broker. Brokers have access to special mortgage rates and discounts that may not be available to you on your own, which may mean that your best rate is only available through a mortgage broker. On the other hand, many big banks don’t work with mortgage brokers, and you may find a better rate on your own. For you to get the best possible loan, you need to explore options both with and without a broker. Then choose the mortgage that best serves your needs.

When you follow these guidelines on how to work with a mortgage broker, you’ll get the best possible mortgage– and secure an investment in your future.