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California Mortgage Broker License: Step-by-Step Guide

In California, anyone engaged in the business of making and brokering commercial or residential mortgage loans must be licensed. The State Department of Business Oversight regulates and supervises all mortgage licenses.

The license application process for companies and individuals is handled by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS). NMLS allows mortgage companies or loan originators to apply or renew a license online.

Types of Mortgage Licenses in California

California has three major state license types: Company, Branch, and Individual. Each license type depends on the work you perform.

In this guide, we’ll cover the most common license types only. You can review the full list on the NMLS website.

Most Common Company Licenses

  • Finance Lenders Law (CFLL) License – allows making and brokering consumer and commercial mortgage loans.
  • Residential Mortgage Lending Act (CRMLA) License - allows making and servicing residential loans within the state.

California State Requirements

All license applications are to be submitted online via NMLS. Please note that some agency-specific documents, such as the original notarized bond, need to be mailed directly to the Department of Business Oversight. You can find more information in the application checklist or in your NMLS profile.

For further information regarding the license requirements contact CA Department of Business Oversight at (866) 275-2677.

For NMLS-related questions please contact their call center at (855) 665-7123.

Education and Exams

Passing an exam is obligatory for some, but not all license types. In the state of California, you don’t need to complete a pre-license course or pass an examination in order to get a Finance Lenders Law or Residential Mortgage Lending Act License.

CA Mortgage Broker Bonds

Bonds for Company Licenses

  • Finance Lenders Law License – In order to obtain a CFLL license all applicants must furnish a surety bond. The amount depends on the aggregate amount of residential mortgage loans originated by the licensee in the previous year.
    • $25,000 surety bond for 0 - $1,000,000 aggregate loans.
    • $50,000 surety bond for $1,000,001 - $50,000,000 aggregate loans.
    • $100,000 surety bond for $50,000,001 - $500,000,000 aggregate loans.
    • $200,000 surety bond for aggregate loans over $500,000,001.
  • Residential Mortgage Lending Act License - All CRMLA license applicants who employ one or more mortgage loan originators, are required to upload and mail an original surety bond. The amount depends on the aggregate amount of residential mortgage loans originated by the licensee in the previous year.
    • $50,000 surety bond for 0-$50,000,000 aggregate loans.
    • $100,000 surety bond for $50,000,001 - $500,000,000 aggregate loans.
    • $200,000 surety bond for aggregate loans over $500,000,001.

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Licensing Fees

Fees for Company Licenses

The fees must be submitted through NMLS and are not refundable or transferrable.

  • Finance Lenders Law License
  • $400 total license costs
  • Residential Mortgage Lending Act License
  • $1,100 total license costs

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