NMLS (Nationwide Multistate Licensing System) is the system of record for non-financial depository services, and requires loan originators to be licensed according to national standards. By verifying NMLS numbers, individuals seeking a loan program are in the best possible position to understand who they’re dealing with at any given time. Here, we consider what NMLS means, and why it’s useful.
Working with a licensed mortgage broker that is an NMLS consumer can provide you with untold peace of mind. Here, we consider what an NMLS consumer is, and why that means you can finally put your trust in a mortgage broker and live to tell the tale.
What is a NATIONWIDE MULTISTATE LICENSING SYSTEM ?
NMLS is a form of registration for brokers in certain territories, which include 59-state agencies across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. NMLS-approved lenders are given a number which is permanently assigned to each company, branch, and individual that maintains a single account. These unique numbers are automatically assigned when a broker registered, but cannot be used in an official capacity until validated by a state license or federal registration. At this stage, the number is entered into the consumer website,, where it’s listed alongside details such as contact information, authorization, broker employment history, and more. Once obtained, these numbers follow mortgage brokers across their careers.
What is the purpose?
NMLS is ultimately in place to maintain a centralized online financial industry database. NMLS is not the same as licensing, but is used by mortgage lenders, mortgage loan originators, and more to reply, renew, surrender, or amend their licenses. The company makes applying for licensing in multiple states easier using one centralized tool and process across participating states. Within the online portal, brokers are able to register for exams, make payments, report authorized agents, and renew their licenses among other things. This streamlines the mortgage licensing process, while also ensuring that unreliable brokers are unable to simply continue changing states to avoid a growing negative reputation, a fact that helps towards the true purpose is consumer peace of mind.
What are the benefits of Borrowing from a Lender?
In order to gain NMLS approval, mortgage brokers must meet a range of quality checks, which include –
- No felony convictions in the previous seven years
- No felony convictions, period, with regards to financial crimes
- Credit reports that prove financial responsibility
- A license maintained in good standing
- And more
In this way, NMLS works to establish a set of minimum standards so that borrowers always know who they’re working with. The easy access of the NMLS consumer portal is especially fundamental for ensuring easy quality checks that can reveal all necessary details about a lender in minutes, regardless of whether they’re just moved to the state or have been operating here for years.
Where can you find an NMLS number?
In most cases, an NMLS number should be clearly displayed, both on a broker’s website and within their promotional content. This is especially important given that consumers should verify this number before entering any kind of commitment. If an NMLS number is hidden, or it’s not possible to find a match on consumer access, it might mean either that a company is not operating within an NMLS state, or that they have not gained approval.
How to use NMLS consumer access
Consumer access ensures that borrowers are able to utilize NMLS numbers to inform their mortgage decisions. This consumer website is a stand-alone database that’s separate from NMLS, and contains administrative and licensing information for registered companies using a subset of the information that brokers provide to the NMLS. Using a generic search textbox, consumers accessing this website are able to either search for local brokers, or enter an existing NMLS number. No personal identifying or identifying information is displayed within NMLS consumer access, but it is possible to view –
- Individual or company name
- NMLS ID
- Street and mailing address
- Phone number
- Fax number
- Email address
Consumer access also provides licensing information, especially highlighting whether or not a broker is ‘authorized to conduct business,’ as well as the type of licensing they have received. This way, consumers can both verify mortgage lenders that they’re already dealing with, and find brokers with NMLS numbers in their area through filtered searches.