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NMLS-Approved Loan Originator: Licensing

Frequently Asked Questions

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Loan Originator Licensing FAQs
General    (click an item to see more info)
  1. Is Real Estate Institute an NMLS-approved provider?

    Yes. The Real Estate Institute is an NMLS-Approved Course Provider, #1400102 We offer NMLS-approved pre-license and continuing education programs. We also offer SAFE test preparation courses to prepare loan originators for the mandatory national licensing test.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  2. What is the SAFE Act?

    The Secure and Fair Enforcement in Mortgage Licensing Act was signed into law on June 30, 2008 as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA). The intent of the SAFE Act is to increase uniformity in licensing requirements, reduce regulatory burden, enhance consumer protection, and reduce fraud in the mortgage industry.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  3. What is the NMLS?

    The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS) was created to form a central repository of license and disciplinary information on mortgage companies and mortgage loan originators. The SAFE Act requires all state-licensed companies and individual mortgage loan originators working for them to have an account and unique identifier number with NMLS.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  4. To whom does the SAFE Act apply?

    The SAFE Act applies to all companies and mortgage loan originators. However, only those companies that are state-licensed and the individuals originating for them must go through the licensing process.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  5. Under the SAFE Act, exactly who is considered to be a "Mortgage loan originator"?
    The SAFE Act, as implemented by rule, defines an "individual loan originator" as an individual who, for compensation or other monetary gain, performs loan origination activities, such as
    • Taking an application.
    • Arranging a credit transaction.
    • Assisting a consumer in applying for credit. A loan originator assists a consumer in obtaining or applying for credit by advising on particular credit terms that are or may be available to the consumer based on the consumer's financial characteristics.
    • Offering or negotiating credit terms. Credit terms include rates, fees and other costs. Credit terms are selected based on the consumer's financial characteristics when those terms are selected based on any factors that may influence a credit decision, such as debts, income, assets or credit history.
    • Making an extension of credit.
    • Referring a consumer to a loan originator or creditor. Referring is an activity included under each of the activities of offering, arranging, or assisting a consumer in obtaining or applying to obtain an extension of credit.
    • Advertising or communicating to the public that you can or will perform any loan origination services.
    The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has further clarified that an individual cannot avoid licensure requirements by having someone else "take" the application. CFPB also clarified the limited contexts where offering or negotiating residential mortgage loan terms would not make an individual a mortgage loan originator:
    • Performing only administrative or clerical tasks on behalf of a loan originator or creditor, such as processing or underwriting, provided you perform those services for only one organization at a time.
    • Delivering an application to the consumer for them to fill out and not discussing terms, etc.
    • Providing financing to a buyer pursuant to a sale of your own residence.
    • Performing only real estate brokerage services as a licensed real estate professional as long as you are not being compensated by a lender for offering products or referrals.
    • Providing third-party advisory services, such as an attorney, accountant, financial advisor or someone assisting an immediate family member, as long as you are not being compensated for the actual loan origination service or for referring clients to a specific creditor or broker.
    • Other assorted situations, such as employees of manufactured home builders in certain cases.
    Last Updated: 1/19/2014
  6. Does this law affect mortgage loan originators in all states?

    Yes. This law applies to all states, territories, and possessions of the United States.

    Last Updated: 11/10/2011
  7. Are there any mortgage loan originators who are NOT required to become licensed?

    Yes. Mortgage loan originators who are employees of a depository institution (a bank that takes deposits) regulated by the FDIC, OCC, Federal Reserve, CFPB, NCUA or Farm Credit Administration are exempt from the state licensure, and testing requirements. However, they must become registered MLOs through NMLS and receive education commensurate with their involvement in loan origination. Although not specifically required to take NMLS-approved courses, those can certainly satisfy the requirements of the Act.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  8. What is the difference between NMLS registration and licensing?

    All mortgage loan originators must have an account with the NMLS. This creates a centralized national database of disciplinary information for individuals originating residential loans. Registration is the only SAFE Act requirement for mortgage loan originators who are employees of a federally-regulated depository institution or its first-tier subsidiary (as described above).

    For all other mortgage loan originators, including those working for Mortgage Brokers and Mortgage Lenders, the SAFE Act requires state licensure for each state where the individual originates loans. The licensure process will be facilitated through the NMLS and its systems. State-licensed mortgage loan originators are subject to the education and testing requirements of the SAFE Act.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  9. How do I obtain an NMLS unique identifier?

    Detailed instructions are provided at the NMLS Website. It is important that you coordinate your use of this system with your employer.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  10. Is NMLS registration also required for Mortgage Brokers and Lenders (companies)?

    Yes, in addition to individual mortgage loan originators, a mortgage brokerage or mortgage lending company will create a record in the NMLS system. Using this "One Record Concept", NMLS allows for the creation and maintenance of a single record for each company, regardless of the number of jurisdictions in which it is licensed.

    This single record may be used to apply for, maintain, renew, or surrender licenses in all jurisdictions participating in NMLS. Companies will also be able to create and maintain a single record for each branch, control person or mortgage loan originator.

    The use of any of these forms is governed by the regulations of the state in which you are seeking licensure, not by NMLS.

    Additional information is available at the NMLS Website.

    Last Updated: 1/19/2014
  11. Will states issue a Mortgage loan originator license once I'm registered with the NMLS?

    While the states are the entities that issue mortgage loan originator licenses, you won’t be able to apply for your license in a given state until you’ve satisfied all of its requirements for licensure (education, testing, background checks, etc.)

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  12. After becoming registered with the NMLS, what steps are required to become licensed in an individual state?

    Requirements for individual state licensure are dictated by each state's mortgage licensing law. However, certain requirements exist for all states, and the licensing process will be standardized and facilitated through the NMLS.

    Requirements include:

    • Background checks
    • Testing
    • Pre-license education
    • Continuing education

    Please check the NMLS website for updated information about individual state requirements.

    Last Updated: 11/10/2011
  13. Where can I find additional information about NMLS licensing procedures for a specific state?

    Please see this document at the NMLS website.

    Last Updated: 1/19/2014
Background Check Requirement    (click an item to see more info)
  1. What types of background checks are required?

    Individuals must undergo a criminal background check as well as a character and fitness check, which includes a credit check.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  2. When must I submit to the required background checks?

    Before applying for state licensure.

    Last Updated: 4/25/2010
  3. How do I submit to the background checks? Who do I contact?

    You will find this information at the NMLS Website.

    Last Updated: 5/25/2012
Testing & Education Requirements    (click an item to see more info)
  1. In brief, what are the NMLS education and testing requirements?

    Applicants are required to:

    • Complete 20 hours of pre-license course education (may be more in some states).
    • Pass a standardized national examination, including uniform state content.
    • Pass a standardized state examination (in a limited number of states that have not adopted the uniform state content in the national examination).
    • Complete at least 8 hours of continuing education course curriculum each year (may be more in some states).

    You can see which states have adopted the uniform state content (and do not require a separate state test) by clicking here.

    You can find out more about the education requirements in each state by clicking here.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  2. If I work for a commercial bank do I need to take the education courses or examinations required by the SAFE Act?

    If you work for an insured depository institution regulated by OCC, FDIC, FED and NCUA or the Farm Credit Administration you are not required to take the NMLS Approved pre-license or continuing education courses or examinations.

    You still must receive education commensurate with your origination involvement and the relevant NMLS-approved pre-license and continuing education courses can satisfy this requirement. Additionally, it would be a good idea if you have ever considered changing employment and going to work for a state-licensed lender or broker.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
Additional Information    (click an item to see more info)
  1. Where can I find additional information about NMLS licensing procedures for a specific state?

    Please see this document at the NMLS website.

    Last Updated: 1/19/2014
  2. Where can I get more information about the NMLS?

    The NMLS website is a valuable resource: http://Mortgage.NationwideLicensingSystem.org

    Last Updated: 4/25/2010
  3. I have more questions. Who can I call?

    Our customer representatives at the Real Estate Institute are available to help.
    Please call us with your questions: (800) 995-1700.

    The NMLS Call Center is also available: (855) NMLS-123 (1-855-665-7123).

    Last Updated: 1/19/2014
Loan Originator Pre-License Education FAQs
General    (click an item to see more info)
  1. Is Real Estate Institute an NMLS-approved course provider?

    Yes. Real Estate Institute is an NMLS-Approved Course Provider, #1400102. We offer NMLS-approved pre-license and continuing education programs.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  2. Exactly what pre-license education is required by the SAFE Act?

    The SAFE Act requires that the 20 hours of pre-license education shall include:

    • 3 hours of Federal law and regulations
    • 3 hours of ethics, which shall include instruction on fraud, consumer protection, and fair lending issues
    • 2 hours of training related to lending standards for the nontraditional mortgage product marketplace. HUD has acknowledged that "nontraditional mortgage product" means any mortgage product other than a 30 year fixed rate mortgage
    • 12 hours of other instruction on mortgage origination

    Some states may have additional requirements. See the NMLS State-Specific Education Requirements Chart for details.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  3. Is self-study permitted for pre-license courses?

    No. NMLS-approved pre-license courses must be offered as classroom courses, classroom equivalent courses (such as live webinars), or online instructor-led courses (a comprehensive, interactive online course similar to those offered at online universities).

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  4. Will your pre-license courses help prepare me for the mandatory SAFE examination?

    Our pre-license courses do cover most of the topics listed on NMLS test content outline for the National Component with Uniform State Content. Keep in mind, however, that pre-license education is intended to provide originators with a knowledge base to work in the mortgage industry. The NMLS does not approve pure "test preparation" courses for pre-license education. We do recommend that our students study for the SAFE exam using our PREP-to-PASS programs after completing their pre-license education.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  5. Will you report my course completion to the NMLS?

    Yes. The NMLS mandates that course providers report course completions within 7 days of the end of each class. However, we typically complete that process much quicker than the NMLS mandates.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  6. Does your school offer financial aid or can I pay the course tuition over time?

    We have partnered with Affirm, who offers financing options that enable our students to enroll today and pay later. This extends our traditional payment options, such as credit/debit cards and cash.

    Click here to learn more.

    Last Updated: 6/17/2016
Classroom and Webinar Course Format    (click an item to see more info)
  1. You advertise the classroom and webinar course together. Are they the same course?

    Yes. The materials used in both our classroom and classroom equivalent (webinar) courses are identical, and they are both taught live by an instructor with real-world mortgage experience who is available to answer your questions. In fact, all of our webinar pre-license courses are actually live broadcasts of a classroom session where webinar students are able to interact with those in the classroom and vice versa. Classroom and webinar students alike rave about their experience with Real Estate Institute's live courses.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  2. Does this class and webinar meet all of my pre-license education requirements?

    This course satisfies the base requirement for 20 hours of pre-license education contained in the federal SAFE Act. It covers the minimum requirements for federal law, ethics and non-traditional mortgage lending, as well as elective education. Some states have additional state-specific requirements for pre-license education that go beyond the 20-hours required under federal law. You can find a list of states that have a state-specific education requirement by viewing the State-Specific Education Requirements Chart on the NMLS website.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  3. What are the technical/computer requirements for taking the webinar course?

    Students need a desktop or laptop computer (PC or Mac) running any modern browser. We recommend Google Chrome or Internet Explorer (version 10 or newer), although Firefox, and Safari will also work. Your computer must have JavaScript enabled, be configured to accept cookies and have the Adobe Flash Player installed. You can visit the website www.instituteonline.com/webinarsetup to run a test and ensure your computer is prepared to access the webinar delivery system.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  4. How long is the classroom or webinar course?

    Our classroom courses are typically three days, running 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM (Central time). Students get periodic breaks throughout the day and at least one hour for lunch. This class schedule enables people from all domestic time zones to participate in the webinar course. Occasionally, we will run courses on a different schedule. These will be clearly posted on our website. Additionally, private courses are available for groups of 10 or more (for a live webinar) or 20 or more (for a live classroom course at your offices). Private courses can be run on any schedule chosen by your company, including weekends.

    Last Updated: 5/13/2016
  5. Is there a final exam required with the classroom course? What about the webinar?

    Yes. The NMLS requires that all students pass a final exam in order to earn credit for pre-license courses. The final exam for both classroom and webinar courses consists of 25 questions. Students must score at least 70% to achieve a passing grade.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  6. What if I fail the final exam?

    Students failing the final exam will be allowed one retake made up of different questions. If a student fails the final exam two consecutive times, the student must repeat the course.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  7. Do your other courses also have final exams?

    Yes. Our online instructor-led course also has a final exam. In fact, it is an NMLS requirement to have a final exam with any pre-license course.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  8. What is the difference between the classroom/webinar and the other pre-license courses you offer?

    Our classroom and classroom-equivalent (webinar) courses utilize a traditional classroom format with a live instructor presenting the material to students, both in class and online. Students have the ability to interact real-time with the instructor in order to ask questions and enhance their learning experience. Students looking for the most interactivity with our highly rated instructors, and who are able to devote three consecutive days to learning, should choose one of these options.

    Our online instructor-led course utilizes instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction and does not occur in real-time. Rather, students post comments and submit assignments on discussion forums that the instructor (and, often, other students) responds to each evening (similar to an online college course). Although our instructors are available to answer questions and provide support to students needing extra assistance, this format will not feel like a "traditional" classroom setting that many people are used to.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
Online Instructor-Led Course Format    (click an item to see more info)
  1. What is an online instructor-led course?

    This course is similar to an online college course. Students are required to complete one module of instruction per day, interact with other students and the instructor in the discussion forum and complete daily assignments. This format is ideal for anyone who can't dedicate full work days to classroom learning. Although students have flexibility in choosing the time of day that they complete their required work, the course has a specific start and end date. It is not self-paced, and students failing to complete their work on time will be dropped from the course without credit. Visit the NMLS website for additional information.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  2. Does this course meet all of my pre-license education requirements?

    This course satisfies the base requirement for 20 hours of pre-license education contained in the federal SAFE Act. It covers the minimum requirements for federal law, ethics and non-traditional mortgage lending, as well as elective education. Some states have additional state-specific requirements for pre-license education that go beyond the 20-hours required under federal law. You can find a list of states that have a state-specific education requirement by viewing the State-Specific Education Requirements Chart on the NMLS website.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  3. How long will it take me to complete the course?

    NMLS courses are based on a 50-minute hour, meaning that each hour of credit consists of a 50-minute block of time. The course should take the average student 20 hours to complete (based on the 50-minute hour). Actual time spent in the course may be longer, depending upon the speed at which a student reads, the length of exercise responses, instructor feedback, etc.

    In general, students will need to complete one module of instruction each day for five days, with the final exam being taken on the sixth day.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  4. What are the technical/computer requirements for taking this course?

    Students need a desktop or laptop computer (PC or Mac) running any modern browser. We recommend Firefox, although Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari will also work. Your computer must have JavaScript enabled, be configured to accept cookies and have the Adobe Flash Player installed. Technical support is available from 5 AM - 7 PM, Pacific Time, 7 days a week excluding national holidays.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  5. Is there a final exam required with this course?

    Yes. The NMLS requires that all students pass a final exam in order to earn credit for pre-license courses. The final exam for this course consists of 50 questions. Students must score at least 70% to achieve a passing grade.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  6. What if I fail the final exam?

    Students failing the final exam will be allowed one retake made up of different questions. If a student fails the final exam two consecutive times, the student must repeat the course.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  7. Do your other mortgage pre-license courses also have final exams?

    Yes. It is an NMLS requirement to have a final exam with any pre-license course.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
  8. What is the difference between this course and the other pre-license courses you offer?

    The online instructor-led course utilizes instructor-to-student and student-to-student interaction and does not occur in real-time. Rather, students post comments and submit assignments on discussion forums that the instructor (and, often, other students) responds to each evening ( similar to an online college course). Although our instructors are available to answer questions and provide support to students needing extra assistance, this format will not feel like a "traditional" classroom setting that many people are used to. If you are looking for traditional learning with an instructor lecturing and facilitating exercises, we encourage you to check out our highly rated classroom and/or webinar course. The class and webinar provide live instruction and the ability to get any questions answered in real-time.

    Last Updated: 5/23/2014
Real Estate Institute is an NMLS-Approved Course Provider, #1400102.