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Does it really matter who your mortgage broker is?

Using a broker who is familiar with your property type will make the mortgage process go smoother.

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You want to buy an apartment in New York City, and unless you buy with all cash, you know you’re going to need a mortgage.

But does it matter who your mortgage broker is? Are some brokers more skilled at facilitating a purchase while others, presumably unwittingly, hinder the process? The short answer is yes. Just as you want a real estate agent who understands your needs, you want a mortgage broker who is on their game and can facilitate a smooth transaction.

“Selecting the right mortgage broker or banker is imperative when you are looking to purchase a property. Finding the person who is familiar with your property type will allow for the process to move smoother,” says Mary Alex Blanton, senior vice president of strategic marketing at National Cooperative Bank (a Brick Underground sponsor). “The correct person for your situation will be able to supply you the information you need and will find the best loan product and terms for you without causing delays in the process.”

Doing the job vs. doing the job well

It pays to work with the latter, of course. Mistakes can waste time—and money.

“Being licensed doesn't necessarily equate to being good. There are mortgage brokers armed to transact, and then there are mortgage brokers armed with knowledge of products, knowledge of how to navigate the co-op questionnaires, and knowledge to customize what suits each borrower,” says Julie Friedman, associate broker with The Friedman Team at Compass. “Our team knows in five seconds which mortgage broker will screw up the deal and cost the borrowers extra time, extra fees and headache and which outstanding mortgage brokers will cover our buyers with grace and efficiency.”

Different clients, different needs

Alexander Bogod, an associate broker with Broadway Realty, estimates his firm uses about five different mortgage brokers depending on the transaction type, because they each have different programs and requirements.

“Some of our mortgage brokers use no income verification programs to provide financing, while others can offer fast turnaround time in just two to three days. If a client is going to auction or needs to get financing asap, we have companies to recommend,” he says. “[Some buyers] prefer to pay with cash for their down payment and we can get them financing. We also work with foreign buyers looking to buy properties and have mortgage brokers who can use income from other countries to provide financing in New York.”

Hometown advantage

Corcoran agent Alison McQueen says a broker could be a star, but something as simple as being located out of state could cause some hiccups.

If a lender is out of state, I let the buyer know that the sellers' brokers will notice. It may become a stumbling block to an accepted offer,” she says. “This is because sellers' brokers mitigate risk for their sellers. Out-of-state lenders are very risky to a sale because New York City real estate is quirky and sales move at a quick pace. It makes sense, then, for a buyer to team up and work with a reputable NYC lender at a well-known lending institution.”

But here’s another caveat: Going with a big name bank doesn’t ensure a smooth sailing.

“There are definitely big banks in the city with good reputations that are much easier to deal with than others,” says Brian Morgan, an agent with Citi Habitats. “I’ll hear someone is going with a certain [difficult] lender and think, ‘Here we go…’”

Work the network

For obvious reasons, Morgan is not pointing any fingers, but he says there are definite advantages to heeding your agent’s advice on which brokers to use. They know a broker’s reputation, past performance, and the relationships they have. “Lenders close to an underwriter can move things along quickly,” he says. “Some have been in the business a long time, moved up in their careers. It can be helpful to have that kind of pull.”  

Tapping into those relationships—that continue long after you’ve signed a contract and moved on— can give you some extra leverage that you might not have if you go with a broker outside your agent’s network.

“If my lender is not on their game, if they don’t answer the clients, I’m all over the lender,” Morgan says, recalling one such instance. “He was forced to deal with my calls on vacation. He knows there are other potential deals [with me] down the line.”

McQueen also has her go-to stable of brokers, and sticks by them.

“I have a few lenders I love to work with. They're honest, smart, and personable. They treat my clients well and try to save them money,” she says. “Sometimes sellers' brokers don't recognize these guys' names, and they come to me concerned. I simply explain I've worked with them many times and they are more than competent. Because the brokerage community is relatively small and I have a good rep, the brokers don't push us.”