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Have you heard the horror story? You know, the one about the homebuyer showing up at closing only to see their closing costs hundreds of dollars more than the loan officer told them? It's an oft-told story. But who just might be your first line of defense against such charges? You might be surprised. It's your Realtor.

When you're given your Good Faith Estimate its intent is to tell you who is charging what and how much everything is going to cost. That way there won't be any surprises and you won't be short of money when it comes to closing time. At least that's the theory. In practice there can be fees you've never heard of, much less being disclosed to you. What to do if this happens to you? It's probably more important to figure out how to keep it from happening instead of how to react if it does. Here's how: Ask your Realtor. Why?

Good loan officers make their living by soliciting business from real estate companies. In fact, the seasoned loan officer who has closed hundreds of loans most likely has a few key real estate professionals they consider clients -- clients they need to keep happy. If they make them unhappy then guess who is no longer a client? Right. That Realtor.

Before I get accused of pandering, let me now state that the last time I made a sales call to a real estate agent was back in June of 1997. Her name was, (actually still is) Sandy Goodwin here in Austin, TX. A fantastic lady who helped me get started when I moved to Texas. The reason she was my last sales call was that I had slowly begun migrating into online lending for our company and no longer called on "retail" accounts. So if anyone accuses me of writing this just to get on the "short list" of any real estate brokerage, you can forget it. Now, back to the point.

When you begin shopping for a mortgage, get some references from your Realtor. If they've been in business for any length of time and have established themselves as a top producer you can be sure he or she has the most experienced and trusted loan officers on speed dial. All of whom are competing for every bit of business they can get. These loan officers don't screw up deals. These loan officers quote correct rates. These loan officers know closing costs like the back of their hand. If they don't? Then they don't get on the agent's referral list. The loan officer will do your loan and you'll live happily ever after. But good loan officers do a hundred loans a year and know that if they mess up their reputation it's taking food from their mouths.

Let's rewind here for a moment. You go to your closing, your agent's there because all good agents show up for their closings, and there's a processing charge of $200 that wasn't disclosed to you in the beginning, increasing your money needed to close. Instead of calling the loan officer and questioning the fee, you let your agent do it for you. Magical things can happen when you get your Realtor to work for you. Loan Officers can work years to become a trusted adviser for certain real estate agents and the fear of losing that business because of a misquote is all that's needed to get the problem fixed.

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