Know which mortgage broker fees are legit

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Q: Is it customary for a mortgage broker to ask for a "retainer" fee before finding funding for you? I do not understand why the broker cannot attach this fee onto the back end of the loan and get paid at closing. Also, if this fee is customary, does the broker still get paid any points at the closing? --Anonymous in Greensboro, N.C. A: Do I know every single relevant detail of your situation? No, absolutely not. But what I do know is that I have never, ever heard of a mortgage broker charging a retainer to find a home loan for a borrower. I hate to give extreme answers, though, so I asked around my circle of contacts.In fact, I sent an email to my most trusted mortgage adviser -- in the business for nearly two decades -- and her response included the following: "I have never heard of any kind of retainer fee." "He's a loan officer, not an attorney." And, the ultimate: "I wouldn't pay it."So here's the deal: I was not able t...