Home Buying in Washington>Question Details

Trulia Washi…, Other/Just Looking in Charlotte, NC

Should first-time homebuyers work with their bank or agent first?

Asked by Trulia Washington DC, Charlotte, NC Tue Apr 23, 2013

Help the community by answering this question:



Only thing I would add to your answer is not all banks are created equal. I work for a bank and we are fast and on time. We are not one of the jumbo banks, rather a mid sized regional bank. We do lend in all 50 states however. The key is where are your undewriters, closers, processors and operations staff. Ours are in Bethesda where I work. Makes a big difference. Hope this helps.

Brent Mendelson
1st Mariner Mortgage
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 24, 2013
I've worked with Brent and he is local, and accessible and fast.
Stay away from Citibank, Bank of America, Wells!
Flag Thu Apr 25, 2013
Well I am a lender so may have a different take on whom you should contact first. You can start with an agent but they will refer you to a trusted loan officer they know and have worked with before. They need to know if you can buy and what price range so they aren't wasting your time.

The process works the same if you contact a lender. We would review, credit, income and assets, provide numbers for down payment and closing costs and answer your questions. If you asked us we would provide the name(s) of local Realtors we have worked with before and trust.

That's why I said the process would work the same as to which person would refer you to the other if you wish to take the lender/realtor advice. Hope this helps and please let me know any questions. For what's it worth I think you should talk to a few local lenders and Realtors to develop a relationship and feel comfortable working with them.


Brent Mendelson
Senior Loan Officer
1ST Mariner Mortgage
Lending in all 50 states
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 24, 2013
Most buyers contact their Agent first. That's the easy, fun part... Much tougher to face reality; closing costs, monthly payment, qualifying range.
Definitely contact your Lender as soon as possible.
You can call your Realtor first for a good recommendation of LOCAL lenders.
Flag Wed Apr 24, 2013
I would say their lender, but I would make a distinction on your wording. I would never send them to a bank (like a brick and mortar branch or credit union, nor their 800 number), I would send them to a mortgage lender/company. Banks work slow and are constantly delivering late or at the last minute. Working with a loan officer that understands sense of urgency and treats you like THEIR client is invaluable.

Once the first time buyer has had the opportunity to understand their financial situation and buying power, then they can get things started with their agent. All of that said, having a great agent around to answer questions an reinforce or help clarify what the lender is telling them and how that applies to the buying process can be beneficial.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 24, 2013
I would recommend any first time home buyers should work with both at the same time. Most lenders have excellent agents they work with on a regular basis and the loan officers know the agents take care of the buyer clients after completing many home purchases as a team effort.

Greg Myers
RE/MAX Realty Group
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 24, 2013
Most buyers contact their Agent first.

That's the easy, fun part...
Much tougher to face reality; closing costs, monthly payment, qualifying range.
Definitely contact your Lender as soon as possible.

You can call your Realtor first for a good recommendation of LOCAL lenders.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Apr 24, 2013
When I first start discussing my clients needs I always ask, "Have you worked with a lender in the past that you were comfortable with? If not I have several lenders I work with and will be glad to set you up with one of them". This works for me because I am giving them the option to work with someone they know or I am offering to help them. This seems to take some of the stress from them that they have options.

I hope this helps!

Beth Seifart
Keller WIlliams Realty - Leesburg, VA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 27, 2013
Lender first, at least in NY agents likely will not even take you out for a showing if they do not know that you are at least pre-qualified.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jul 26, 2013
While a lot of people may say work with a bank first, I would say the opposite. Wile you are more than free to get your mortgage from whomever you like, agents have a lot of knowledge and insight they can help there potential client out with. Every Agent and how they operate are totally different. I would recommend bringing a client in the office with there information, looking at the total picture, talking to them to find out where they are and then helping them to map out the best possible solution and plan of attack.

While some may say its a waste of time and only help people who are prequalified that come through your doors our job is to help everyone customer service from beginning to end.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 25, 2013
It is always optional. A first time home buyer should work on obtain financing to know how much home they can afford or want to pay in terms of mortgage each month.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 14, 2013
It's a good idea to get your finances in order before you start falling in love with houses you can't afford. A useful tools homebuyers can download to help them accurately calculate their total cash to close for any listing is the free Close It! app (http://closeitapp.com) for iPhone and iPad. It works in DC, MD, VA and FL.

App Store download link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/close-it!/id647917344
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 14, 2013
I would suggest unless you have a lender/bank you have a relationship with talk with the agent who should ask if you have a lender and if not they should be able to recommend you to someone they have a relationship with. The key word is "relationship" because my lenders know me and I generally know how they work. This is very important!!!

I hope this helps,

Beth Seifart
Keller Williams Realty - Leesburg, VA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 30, 2013

You are absolutely correct in all banks are not created equal. The big banks should exit the mortgage business and mortgage origination should return to the local banks. In the 80's the "Savings and loans" originated most of the mortgage loans until the "S&L" crashed due to their commercial loans crashed during the 1981 to 1984 recession.

In the 90's the FHA lending guidelines were adequate as the foreclosure rate still remained under 1.7% of origination's. There was no problem. The Fair housing Administration has been plagued by mismanagement for the last 10 years with most of it's political appointee's leaving with 42 million in compensation packages to hide the accounting nightmare's ( fraud) within the agency.

Franklin Roosevelt stared FHA in 1932 to re-finance the homes the under water (negative equity) homes during the depression. In 1946 FHA using the MIP reserves had all the loans covered.

Greg Myers
RE/MAX Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 25, 2013
I would say that it does not matter who you work with first - but I will make some recommendations
as to how I would treat each one separately. If you are a first time homebuyer (or moderate income)
there are programs that can help you save alot of money in DC (HPAP, Property Tax Abatement etc)
and great "no pmi" programs (one area lender has a good one without a downpayment, some other
lenders have good no pmi programs with 10% down, and lender paid mortgage insurance programs.

Even though I am not a mortgage lender I do regularly study these as it will help your buyer client
save money irrespective of what they buy.
Also, the other main purpose of meeting up with a great mortgage lender is to get a fully credit
approval (much better than pre-qualification letter or pre-approval letter) as part of this process
would mean the lender would have reviewed your credit and underwritten your financial capability
so all that would be left would be for the lender to approve the property (appraisal, lender repairs etc).

With regards to meeting up with a Realtor - the absolute and only best way to do this is to meet
with a Realtor for a full buyer interview and counseling and do a "dry run over topics like agency,
contracts, types of home inspections, breakdown of settlement costs, types of approval letters
and other topics. This is time well spent and it prevents alot of misunderstandings down the road
between a buyer and their buyer agent. Another part of the buyer interview might involve going
over your needs and goals in terms of a property, amenities, schools and neighborhood.
Also, financially, buyers tend to have at least three bottom lines
1) price they are willing to pay
2) Cash to close (downpayment plus closing costs minus sellers subsidy (if agreed to)
3) monthly payment
Another valuable discussion of a buyer interview might be to reconcile these three categories.
Also, you might find it to be very interactive to spend about 15 minutes of a buyer interview
on the computer with a Realtor and see how they actually search for properties.
I sincerely hope you find this to be helpful!

Steven Figman Weichert Realtors 202-494-5902 Mobile
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
I recommend first finding an agent you are comfortable with who can recommend a good lender.

I would equate it to going to Nordstrom's and picking out your own clothes, or going to Nordstrom's and having a personal shopper help you find the clothes quickly and appropriately to suit the occasion. A personal shopper's advice at Nordstrom's is FREE, as is your agent's advice. Plus, they work with lenders on a daily basis and know who is good to work with - and who is not - so why not use their expertise to help you find a good lender that you will be happy with.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
As a first-time homebuyer you definitely want to know how much you are qualified for in terms of purchase price, loan amount, and monthly payments, and you should do this early on in the process. However I don't think it matters whether you speak to a lender or a Realtor first. If you know a great lender, by all means, make an initial contact. However, Realtors usually have names of lenders they work with whom they can recommend to you if you don't have one already. It's very exciting to be a first-time home buyer and I wish you all the best!

Wayne Johnson, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
Lender. Any good Realtor is going to send you to a Lender 1st thing.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
Your lender is a very important piece of the equation; the person who will advise you on the loan programs available to you, help with credit remediation should that be necessary, deal with the nuances of your financial history and of course, set your loan limit. An inefficient loan officier can be an agent's worse nightmare and create problems with closing. Most agents know lenders they have confidence in to get the job done for the client - both in programs, rates and in getting to settlement. If you have a bank, credit union, etc. you like doing business with, then by all means start there. You will have a lot of questions for your lender so be sure it is someone with the time and patience to not make you feel hurried. You do not have to use this lender for your loan, you are free to shop as any consumer would. Your agent will want to know your price range and will suggest lenders if you do not have one. It is important to be prepared because it's Murphy's Law that the perfect house for you will be the one you have to wait for a lender to write your letter while other offers pile up.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
Do you go to the store without having any idea how much money is in your pockets?

The same applies here. It's always good to know what you can afford. If you can afford a 400k condo, would you want to waste your time looking at 200k condos outside the beltway, or would you want to fall in love with places you can't afford?

Talk to a lender. A lot of Realtors have lenders in house for convenience. Tell them how much you want to spend a month. They'll run your background and tell you how much house they'll willing to back.

Then talk to a Realtor. Tell them what you're looking for and he can narrow it down. We can't really do our job without knowing how much you afford.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
I would start with the lender first so that you have a good sense of what you can afford. Make sure that you really understand the terms of the loans that the lender is offering you. I have seen some lenders push buyers into loan programs that were not a good fit for them. You may want to buy less house than you can afford - and that is a very valid life style choice. Less is frequently more these days!

Also, once you decide on a price range, stick to it. Nothing makes me sadder than seeing a buyer get caught up in a feeding frenzy and spend more than they are comfortable with as a monthly payment.

To find a lender, you might start with your own bank. All the major banks have mortgage departments and those lenders can give you a good sense of what you qualify for and what your monthly payment will be. They can also give you a prequalification letter, which is very important once you find a home of your dreams. Most sellers will not consider a buyer's offer if the buyer is not well along the path of qualifying for a mortgage.

Once you have a good sense of what you qualify for, then I always tell my buyers to take a month or so to look at properties without giving their heart to any one home. You need to try on lots of properties to really understand the market and decide what features in a home are most important. Think of this as the high school phase of your dating life- lots of fun, but definitely not a time when you were ready to make a serious commitment. After a few weeks of looking around and testing the waters, then you are ready to commit to a Realtor and then a home. Make sure that when you sign that buyer agency agreement that you feel comfortable with that Realtor and that you know that your interests will be protected. Also make sure that it is easy to cancel the agreement if the relationship starts to head south.

Last of all - Happy hunting! I hope you find a great home! Let us hear back how the search goes! Good luck! Lise Howe
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
You should speak with a lender or lenders at the outset. Always pick a lender working in the local community, who knows the local market and who is committed to providing the kind of service and support that you may need if all does not go smoothly.

Haven't a clue about who a good lender might be? Find a reputable real estate agent and he or she should be able to provide good referrals.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
It's really your choice. But it makes a whole lot of sense to know the amount you qualify for and have a pre-approval letter in your pocket ready when you have identified the home you wish to offer on. In many cases, the property goes to the buyer that is ready to move the quickest!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Apr 23, 2013
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2016 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer