I felt that Robert Bruss' Q&A, which concluded that "borrowers should be very cautious when dealing with (mortgage brokers)" was not very helpful to consumers.
My industry is no different than any other: Exactly 50% of the mortgage brokers are worse than average (median) and exactly 50% are better than average. Get one in the lower 50% and you might be in trouble. Choose one in the top 50% and you'll be pleased.
Just as in choosing any other supplier, you should really "shop" for a lender, and I don't mean making 25 phone calls getting "quotes." Among the better lenders, rates for comparable programs are almost identical anyway. Interview the brokers. Find out their education, experience and level of success. Ask for references and call them.
There are problems dealing with direct lenders too. The large banks and S&Ls typically have only a few programs, and their loan officers are really salesmen whose job it is to "sell you" their program. Frequently they have very little experience and their financial education may be limited to going through their company's training program.