3. How to Hire a Loan Officer and Real Estate Agent
Hiring a Loan Officer
Hiring a loan officer is more important than hiring a lender.
You will not hear many people say this, but there is very little difference between lenders. Most lenders offer the same loan programs. Most lenders follow FHA, VA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac underwriting guidelines.
Most lenders will work hard to process your loan approval in a timely manner with a few delays or issues as possible.
When you apply for a home loan, what you are really shopping for is a loan officer. It’s the communication skills, experience, and expertise of an individual loan officer that will determine whether your dream of buying a home will be a dream, or a nightmare.
Many productive loan officers will have a team of people that assist in the process. In this case, you are hiring the loan officer, and trusting that they and their team work together to give keep things running smoothly, and keeping you informed throughout the process.
It really doesn’t matter where your chosen loan officer works, as long as you trust them. If you trust your loan officer, then you have to assume that they are working for a lender that allows them to provide the highest level of service to their clients.
My Top 3 Hiring Tips
1. Trust and Verify. If your lender is a referral from a Real Estate Agent, friend, family member, or co-worker, consider it a recommendation, not an endorsement or guarantee that they know what they’re doing.
Lenders recommended by the agent, or family members tend to top the list of complaints. Trust your referral source, but interview and verify that they are a good match for you.
2. Make Sure They Are Listening. When you speak to a loan officer for the first time, listen very closely. My experience is that if a loan officer talks too much, or makes it sound too easy, or always tells you “don’t worry about it”, you may have something to worry about.
Your goal is to try to determine if someone is telling you what you want to hear, or more realistically, preparing you for the battle ahead. Buying a home is never a simple, painless process. There are a lot of emotions and anxiety that comes along with a purchase of this importance, and there are a lot of parties involved in the transaction.
I’m not saying that there are always problems, there are just a lot of things that can happen that affect your transaction, like once the appraiser inspects the property to determine the value, or if something changes in your financial situation that wasn’t in your control or expected.
Does your agent and loan officer listen to you? Do they continuously ask you questions that you’ve already given them the answers to? Do you feel like they understand you, and are just as invested in getting you into a home as you are? It’s important that you have professionals on your side that clearly understand your goals, and communicates clearly with you throughout the process.
3. Expect Outstanding Communication. Most of the questions I get start with an opening sentence that usually includes the fact that a loan officer went dark. No communication. They don’t return calls or emails.
Communication is by far the most important super power you and your buying team can possess. When you and your buying team are on the same page, you know the best way to reach them, whether it’s a call, text or email. Most loan officers and agents also have processing teams that you should be in constant communication with.
A lack of communication will increase your stress level exponentially. If they don’t get back to you, you need to get going to a loan officer that actually cares about earning your business.
Many new homebuyers are uncomfortable working with someone by phone, email or text only. I can tell you from personal experience that a great loan officer does not have to be local to do an incredible job for you.
While there are many similarities in the way that you hire a loan officer and a real estate agent, there are very stark differences as well. Here’s another perspective for hiring a real estate agent.
Hiring a Real Estate Agent
Hiring a great Real Estate Agent in today’s market is more important than ever.
With the market as competitive as it is today, the Agent you hire is usually the difference between many months of frustration and disappointment and having a seller say YES.
When a family hires me that has been in the market for a while and has gone through their fair share of failed agents, I am not surprised to find the Agents they hired before me told them very little about the home buying process.
In my experience, most dissatisfaction and frustration comes with the lack of education.
I thought finals week at USC and the Series 3 Commodities and Futures exam were tough (both of which I aced, by the way!)…..But staying educated and on top of the lightning-fast changes in this real estate market is just as challenging.
It doesn’t surprise me that so many Real Estate Agents are unable or unwilling to educate themselves so that they can educate their buyers. It also doesn’t surprise me that so many people think that Agents are not honest.
Educating yourself is the best way for you to identify if you’re working with someone that has put in the time or the effort to stay informed. You know one of these characters are not going to just come out and tell you that they are a bad Real Estate Agent!
I know, it’s been a bit of a build-up but here you go. Can I get a drum roll, please……..
My Top 10 List of What to Look Out for When Hiring Your Real Estate Agent
- Interview Agents. This is a dead-serious job and you need the right professional for the job.
- Ask for references and call recent past clients of Agent – (bought within 90 days)
- Does the Agent educate you or tell you what they think you need to know?
- Did the Agent set up expectations for return calls and communications?
- Does the Agent have a great relationship with an equally as impressive loan officer?
- Does the Agent ask you a lot of questions about you and your family?
- Is the Agent a great listener? Does the Agent repeat what you said to show they understand?
- Lookup Agent’s State Licensing information and look for disciplinary actions with the B.R.E
- Is the Agent only showing you homes that are for sale by their own company? RED FLAG
- Does the Agent continuously make excuses about the “bad market”. RED FLAG
Take Control of Your Experience
As a first time homebuyer, everything is new. You have to rely on the advice and guidance of your home buying team, and you have to trust them unconditionally.
Do not underestimate the importance of seizing control when you have the rare opportunity to do so. The first opportunity for you to have complete control is when you are choosing your loan officer or real estate agent.
Never forget that YOU are the boss. If your loan officer or real estate agent does not meet your expectations, do not hesitate to fire them. If they are amazing, tell everyone you know.
When you trust your team, you are not alone. When you are not alone, you can accomplish anything!
Ask a Lot of Questions
One of the biggest mistakes I see homebuyers make is not taking the hiring process seriously enough before working with a loan officer or real estate agent.
Maybe it’s because I have been doing this for so long, but I answer hundreds of questions a month from folks that are not being given accurate information from their lender.
Every day I answer email, texts and phone calls from home buyers across the Country trying to find honest answers to bad advice, and misinformation given to them by their current lender.
Many times, this bad lender was recommended by a real estate agent and hired with no questions asked. Other times, it’s the first lender that the homebuyer spoke with, or was introduced to by a friend, family member, or co-worker.
I rarely hear about these nightmares when a buyer has a plan and asks a lot of questions before hiring a lender to work with.
Asking a lot of questions is a great way for you to get to know your loan officer better as well. The more you communicate, the more comfortable, or uncomfortable you will be with this loan officer.
Take your time to decide if this is the person to trust your home purchase with. It’s a big decision. Take it seriously.