Working with Loan Officers for Pre-qualifying?

I was wondering about working with a loan officer to get pre-qualified for a Home mortgage. Is it a good idea to work with just one officer/company or try a few at the same time?
I read that working with a Mortgage company and a loan officer will usually yield better rates on loans. Is that usually true? I bank with a credit union, but I’m not sure if going with them will get me better rates or if I go with a company that specializes in mortgage loans.
Also, how do we pay for the services that the Loan officers offer? Is it out of pocket to the loan officer’s company in closing fees or is it added to the loan amount and we just pay that off? Sorry, being a first time home buyer, I really can’t make heads or tails out of this stuff.

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