How to view lender referrals from agents, builders

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By Marilyn Kennedy Melia
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Input “mortgage” in a search engine and you’ll instantly be swamped with pop-up rate offers from online lenders.

Those interest rates and attendant fees are important, of course, and will determine your housing cost in the months and years ahead. But first you actually have to find and purchase a home.

Asking for recommendations about a mortgage lender locally, from your real estate agent or builder, will likely yield references to individuals with experience and responsiveness in making a purchase possible, says Ray Rodriguez, sales manager for TD Bank.

The No. 1 reason builders recommend buyers a particular lender, the bank found in a survey: the lender is likely to provide quick response time to meet a buyer’s needs. Most builders (62 percent) said they recommend two to four trustworthy lenders to buyers; nearly one-third (30 percent) recommended only their primary loan officer.

Responsiveness in a lender is an important quality in the eyes of real estate agents, too, says Rodriguez. “Borrowers have three days to review closing documents,” he says. “If you want to close within 30 days, everything has to line up right.”

A lender’s strong local track record and a good reputation with other agents are important factors in winning an agent’s trust, says Dave Edmondson, Century 21 Meridian Realty, Fayetteville, Georgia.

Good real estate agents rely on loan officers who work professionally and meet deadlines, and they are generally happy to provide references to them. Federal RESPA laws prohibit agents from giving or accepting a fee or anything of value in exchange for referrals.

Remember to leverage existing relationships. Ask for mortgage rates and offers from the bank or credit union you already use. Ask family and friends for references to loan officers or mortgage brokers they worked with and respected.

It’s imperative to compare rates and terms from several lenders.

Probe your agent about whether the firm will deliver what’s needed, which can include not just speed, but special loan programs for first-time buyers and other situations.

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