Real estate transactions often involve more people than a buyer or seller may initially realize. From real estate agents to home inspectors to appraisers to mortgage professionals, there are any number of people who ‘touch’ the transaction before it’s done.
And, oftentimes, those people have to seamlessly work with each other to make sure the real estate settlement is successful. When a buyer needs a mortgage, finding the best mortgage professional to assist with a buyer’s needs is extremely important. That begs the question:
How involved should a real estate agent be in the mortgage process?
Once again, we reached out to our CENTURY 21 Redwood Realty agents to see what they’d have to say. Here are some of their responses:
From our Reston office, Kitty Bernard says: “If for no other reason than to reiterate the importance of getting their paperwork in as quickly as possible, I believe that the agent must have dialogue and access to their client’s chosen lender. It’s also important that the lender receives some pressure from us to adhere to the contract deadlines for appraisal and financial commitment.”
Michael Elias, from Leesburg, gets in as little or as much as his clients want: “I am as involved as my clients need me to be. Also, it depends on when they last went through the mortgage process. It’s important for me to know who my clients are using and what type of loan they have. I make sure to explain how that can affect their ability to get their offer accepted and have the terms they want in the contract. Currently, I’m working with buyers who are having some communication issues with our lender. I have had to check on a daily basis to make sure documents are getting delivered properly and they understand why certain things are required. That being said, I don’t actually get into the personal details of income, credit scores, etc.”
Which brings up a good point:
It’s important that real estate agents don’t get too involved.
Some agents, like Sharon Ayers from Fairfax, have their clients in mind when they say, “I don’t want to know more about their finances. Many of my clients are friends and to know more about their finances would be uncomfortable.”
Educating yourself on the mortgage process without holding yourself out as a professional is a good part of your overall real estate education.
MaryLou Fisher, from Frederick, says: “You need a general knowledge of the loan process, underwriting, and the different products. If you have a good lender, they will be way more involved than you, even having you step out of the process entirely.”
Also out of our Frederick office, agent Stacy Allwein adds: “Agents should be very up-to-date with the mortgage process, familiar with the different programs, but not be the expert. Align yourself with a lender partner you can refer to, someone who’s available & reliable so your clients are getting all of the information they need from the actual mortgage professional. My philosophy is that I want to work with mortgage professionals that take that step and run with it. Once I hand off a ratified contract, it shouldn’t be something I have to constantly have to worry about. A good lender will update the client & me on a regular basis.”
Besides, as DC agent Lou Muscarella points out, involving yourself too much in the mortgage industry isn’t where your focus as a real estate professional should be: “After doing this for a very long time, I always go back to basics. Our job is to be knowledge experts regarding real estate and know where to go to get questions answered. The mortgage side of things is a whole other industry and a full-time job. I will introduce my buyers to a lender, sit in on the one-on-ones with them until they are comfortable and let the client work things out with that lender. Every client has a different financial situation, different credit score, different cash savings/hurdles and there are different loan programs, not one box fits all.”
However, he adds, finding a mortgage professional you trust is good for a real estate agent and their business: “I only use lenders I trust and know. They need to know how to establish a rapport, not be pushy, be willing to explain scenarios and answer questions. AND they need to be available not only to the client (and myself) when they call, but when the listing agent on the other side calls.”
There are benefits to a real estate agent having a relationship with a lender above and beyond that experienced mortgage professional’s ability to help a buyer.
Take what Jeanne Cooper from our Leesburg office says: “My lender is one of the most valuable members of my team. He is responsive and I can count on him to deliver on time and to the penny for my buyers. He knows my title company, and his name and reputation get my deals chosen in competing offer situations. Since he has a reputation of keeping his appraiser list short, I work very hard to convince my buyers of the benefits of using him, along with all my tried and true team members. My lender has even delivered pre-approvals on Sundays! So the answer is yes, I am involved.”
It also depends on how much a real estate agent trusts and is accustomed to working with the chosen mortgage professional.
Gayle King, from Ashburn, notes, “I think it depends if the mortgage banker is one of my trusted referral partners or not. If they’re one of my trusted referral partners, I’m pretty hands-off. If it’s a mortgage company my client insists on using (and I’m not familiar with them), I’m pretty hands-on.”
The key, it seems, is finding the right balance.
As Sandi Stein, from Fredericksburg, says: “Do not get involved if you do not have experience in the type of loan, BUT you should always ask the buyer to give permission to the lender to keep you informed of the mortgage process and discuss anything the lender feels the agent could facilitate.”
From Ashburn agent Emily Miller: “An agent should be fairly involved in the mortgage process for each client. I describe it to buyers as you are building your purchase team with a reliable agent, lender and client who are all on a mission to accomplish a ‘win’ by buying a home… A lender and agent understanding each other’s methodologies can help their buyer client throughout the purchasing process and generally makes things run smoother for everyone.”
Fairfax agent Tracey Barrett explains further: “As the mortgage process is critical to the completion of the purchase transaction, the relationship between the loan officer, client and agent is critical. The extent to which the agent should insert themselves into that process depends entirely upon their comfort level with the partnership of the three parties. The agent is the facilitator of the real estate transaction process and therefore should understand the program that the client is using to finance their transaction. This enables them to write the appropriate offer to include the specified financing and financing and appraisal timelines.
Throughout the progress of the transaction, the agent should monitor the progress of loan application, underwriting and approval to ensure timelines are met and challenges are overcome in a timely fashion. Personally, the better I know a loan officer or the institution they work for, the more I trust these time points will be met.”
Tracey also looks at it from the loan officer’s perspective, “This relationship is critical for the loan officer as well. These are professionals that deserve the opportunity to shine in their duties. Being their advocate in the name of your mutual clients allows the entire process to go smoothly. Bottom line is that the loan process requires teamwork and we need to trust our partners to make it an enjoyable and successful experience for all.”
The overall consensus: teamwork really does make the buyer’s dream work, as long as everyone understands their roles in the transaction. At Redwood, we work closely with our agents to make sure they understand the ins and outs of the entire home buying process so they can be their clients’ best advocate. If you’d like to learn more about our education programs for both new and experienced agents, we’d love to have coffee with you!