Real Estate Agents and Lenders: Love Story or War of the Roses?

by Dan Polimino

Most of the time the symbiotic relationship between real estate agents and lenders is more like the movie Love Story than War of the Roses, with a kumbaya moment at the closing that often turns into a mutual admiration society for all involved. Nothing is better than a borrower thanking you for a good job and saying the process was easier than they expected. Communication, coordination, and realistic expectations are essential to insure a smooth closing on time. While mortgage underwriters have the ability to read minds and see the future, loan officers do not.  Everyone needs to be on the same page. One guiding principal I have noticed among agents who have the least problems in closing deals is “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”

While all real estate agents are different, I have noticed some common practices with professional real estate agents and part time agents who might, in a good year, be involved in two transactions. Most experienced real estate agents today are relatively hands off and do not want to play lender or be bothered with minor details when they could better use their time in other ways. As one top producing Realtor told me, “Unless there is a problem, see you at the closing. I do not watch or give advice to my mechanic. I trust him to do his job, or I will find some one who will get the job done.” Getting the inspection out of the way as soon as possible is another common practice with experienced agents. We do not want to order the appraisal before we know the inspection results. With the wonderful rules governing the appraisal process created by the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), appraisals may take longer than they used to. Help your lender help you. Please do not wait three weeks to do the inspection when the closing is scheduled 30 days out. The more professional agents know what they know, and every bit as important, know what they do not know and they plan ahead. The mortgage maze is incredibly complex today and accurate information is important. When a mortgage question comes up, smart real estate agents have a simple response that is in everyone’s best interest: I am a real estate expert, not a mortgage expert. Talk to the lender. Experienced agents plan ahead and do not call at 7PM on a Sunday night needing to know instantly the mortgage payment, down payment, etc., because these have already been discussed with the buyer in advance.

I have noticed the old phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” applies to a lot of the part time agents (also known as “Realtorettes”) who mean well but do not have a clue about the current mortgage industry. Realtorettes is a phrase I heard years ago to describe someone who works full time as a bartender and occasionally does real estate on the side. Common examples are quoting interest rates (but they always forget the fees), down payments, advice on credit, etc. Just because something makes sense or we used to be able to do it that way no longer applies and can delay or kill a loan. A good example of this is a well meaning real estate agent who told a buyer to pay off some collections before the closing. Makes sense, right? Except that paying off the collections dropped the borrower’s credit score below the allowable level for the type of mortgage they had applied for. I have picked up deals where Realtorettes told the borrower they could not qualify and seen deals where the agent wasted a lot of time showing property to someone they were sure would qualify.

Chip Allen

Crestline Mortgage Bankers

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