Home Buying in San Francisco>Question Details

Chris, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

Should I contact my bank or my agent first?

Asked by Chris, San Francisco, CA Tue Sep 18, 2007

I just started browsing Trulia and would like to know what the best first steps are for buying a house. Do I want to contact my bank to discuss loan options/qualifications first, or should I go to a Real Estate Agent and start there?

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If you have an established relationship or referral with either a lender or a Realtor, I would take the route of the trusted advisor. If you are starting without the benefit of any referrals or established relationship, I would suggest talking w/ a few agents first in search of your Realtor.

If I were going to pick names out of a hat, I would start picking out of the hat marked Realtor. Realtors have a fiduciary relationship to their buyer clients. Make sure you establish your relationship as a buyer client. Lenders do not. When a Realtor recommends a lender, it is because they have a prior relationship and trust that lender.

You can meet several Realtors and gain insight into their strengths and potential match for you while retaining some anonymity. You can’t start cold w/ a lender and retain that privacy. You can dialogue w/ a Realtor about properties and retain some privacy. You can’t get into loan option discussions without discussing your personal finances.

Do not expect a Realtor to make a lot of showing appts for you before you are pre-qualified. You can converse w/ agents via phone and email, attend a few open houses, and ask them for lender referrals.

Of course, if you have a great lender contact, travel that road first and get prequalified.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2007
Deborah Madey, Real Estate Pro in Brick, NJ
I would suggest contacting your lender first, unless you do not have one. You'll want to know exactly what you can afford. If you don't have a lender, then you may want to find an agent you want to work with first and see if they have recommendations. In this market I always recommend buyers speak to more than one lender.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Sorry Ute, I basically repeated what you said...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
I advocate a fairly simultaneous approach. Your real estate agent might suggest a lender or two to talk to, and your banker might give you the name of an agent.** Knowing the maximum you could qualify for is helpful because you don't want to build unreasonable expectations by searching for and viewing homes that higher than your maximum.

**you could even check Trulia profiles for agents in San Francisco - (I am not one of them)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Jim Walker, Real Estate Pro in Carmichael, CA
Each will argue the they should be contacted first....and they are probably both correct, but for different reasons.

Simply put, would you go shopping for a car before knowing how much your budget could afford to spend? Probably not. You should speak with a mortgage broker that can show you an array of programs and options so you can determine what you can afford. You should consider the tax impact and learn about all your options. This way when you go shopping for and with a Realtor, you know exactly what you are doing. The process will be less stressful and confusing.
Please view my profile for legal disclaimer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 1, 2007

Your Realtor should be working with good Lenders. Save time and money by having your realtor work for you.
Web Reference: http://TeamRenton.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 19, 2007
As an addendum to my first answer, it struck me as telling that you came here, to a Realtor forum, to pose this question. That in itself speaks volumes. Call you lender shortly after calling your Realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
If you have a Realtor I would talk with them first and and they can give you several referrals to mortgage brokers or bankers. If you do not have a Realtor ask family and friends for referrals.

If you have a banker you can connect with them to determine what you will be approved for and start the approval process.

It is important to be preapproved prior to starting the house hunting process. Congratulations in your decision to purchase.

Hi Kay and Liz....welcome to Trulia.
Web Reference: http://pamwinterbauer.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Pam Winterba…, Real Estate Pro in Danville, VA
Congrats on getting ready for the first home. This is a great time for buyers.

How do you get started?

First thing first. If you have a good credit to start with, great; if not, start right now to clean up your credit, make a budget and stay within the budget. Check on your finances and make sure you have enough savings for down payment and closing cost.

How to evaluate that? You will need to find either a lender or mortgage broker to work with. Get a few referrals, interview a couple and ask them to get you started on the finance side. By talking to them, you will be able to determine the price range, the monthly payment (including tax, interest, insurance, possible HOA fee) you have to budget for (don’t forget the write offs to offset that), then you can go shopping.

You need to know the location you are interested in. San Francisco is a huge place. Are you staying in the city or not? If so, where in the city? If not, which part of the Bay Area are you interested in? Do some research on that? If you have a general location in mind then you are ready to find a realtor in that area; if not, then you need to narrow down to a few locations you are interested in.

After you have the location(s), then you are ready to find a Realtor to work with - they normally do not charge buyer commission (usually built in the seller’s cost). A few ways to do that also - Get some referrals; go to the most reputable company in town; or go to open house and interview a few undercover and see if you feel comfortable with any,

Will this get you started? Please keep us posted.

Sylvia -
Web Reference: http://www.SylviaBarry.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Looks like everyone is in agreement on this one. The agent you choose to work with will probably have a recommendation of who are good lenders to work with - especially now. If you have a relationship with either get a referall rom them to the other. If you don't know either ask your friends and interview agents till you find someone that can do the right job for you.
I am a Realtor in San Francisco.
Web Reference: http://www.JedLane.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Jed Lane, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
I reccommend buyers, especially first time buyers find out how much their pain threshold for a monthly mortgage payment is. What a lender typically qualifies a buyer for is normally a higher amount. If a buyer goes shopping before they know what they feel comfortable spending, they often realize that they cannot afford what they prefer. Best to start with the bank you do business with. Identify a loan program that fits into your financial plan (IE: how long you plan to hold the property before selling and buying up) take the good faith estimate and identify a mortgage broker; offer that broker your mid range FICO score and the loan program you prefer and compare costs, line by line. The single most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the lender and the loan program.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Your bank or mortgage broker can tell you what you can afford. Once you know that, you can have your agent show you what is available. Remember to ask your agent if they know of any "behind the shelf" listings as well as listings on the MLS. Liz Stevens
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Hi Chris, you may want to reference some previous answers within the Trulia Answers community, but making an application with a mortgage professional would be your first step. Having the confidence of knowing what you can afford will make the home buying experience more rewarding. Also, make sure you get a "pre-approval" letter for your Realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
I think I would start with the bank to find out how much you qualify for. Once you have determined what your price range is, go to your agent. Make sure you get a pre-approval letter. Unless you are set on using your bank for the loan, I would suggest that you ask your agent for a referral to a loan agent as well. Banks usually underwrite their own loans and don't broker to other lenders. Loan brokers, on the other hand, have access to many lenders which gives you more options and more selection.
Web Reference: http://www.go2kw.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Ute Ferdig -…, Real Estate Pro in New Castle, DE
Either one is a good place to start. A Realtor might be able to refer you to some good financing sources and give you an idea of what you will need to spend for the housing you require. Of course I never tell a prequalified buyer to get out of my car, so you really can't go wrong with making contact with a lender either. I think of the Realtor's job as one of quarterback, though, whose job is to bring the team to a successful closing. That involves the lender, the title company, inspectors, etc. So I would say, start with the quarterback.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
Both. Let your agent in on what's going on so he or she can start looking for homes for you.

Get with your bank or mortgage broker to order your credit report and get your loan package started so you can get approved for a loan and be in a position to hit the ground running.

Your Realtor may have a mortgage broker he or she can refer you to.

You want to shop loan programs and rates to ensure you are getting the best rate and terms on your loan.

Good luck!
Web Reference: http://www.edmonaghan.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 18, 2007
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