A first time home buyer starting with their lender is a mistake. I agree that getting approved is one of the first steps but there are many things a realtor can tell a first time buyer about lenders. Knowledge is power and if you go directly to a lender blindly you lose that power and are prone to mistakes. Realtors have a vested interest to see you succeed & Realtors want their clients pre-approved but educated first.
Think of your realtor as your Quarterback. Start with him/her. They can be very helpful in recommending the positives and negatives with just about every facet of the home purchase. Realtors work with lenders on a daily basis and they understand the process well. Since first time buyers are new to the whole process they are more likely to make mistakes all along the way. Lucky for them choosing a lender could be that first mistake. Many times I have inherited someone with a lender who in the end fails to get the loan completed. This happens way more often when the buyer already start with a lender before I help them find their dream home.
Not every lender is equal and if one lender can not do the loan that doesn't mean that you can not get a loan. This is a very sensitive market. If you are a perfect loan, " 'A' paper", then it only matters the details of the loan that could make you choose one lender over another. IE: Higher interest, lower fees, points or no points etc... But not every buyer conforms to A paper loans. Your realtor should be a fountain of knowledge and only have your best interest in mind. Often they will want you to use their preferred lender as there is a perceived value of "realtor influence over the lender" due to the likelihood of the realtor offering more business to that lender in the future.
Phil Scheinman, ABR, GRI, E-PRO
Broker * Sales Agent * Realtor
2831 St. Rose ParkwaySte. 100
Las Vegas, NV 89074