Home purchasers seeking to stand out in competitive housing markets should consider a mortgage professional based in the area.
Don’t discount the benefits of shopping local—even for a mortgage professional.
In tight housing markets where bidding wars are common, buyers who need financing can strengthen their offers by working with a locally based mortgage broker or loan officer, real-estate agents and lenders say. “Getting a local person helps you over certain humps—it just really does,” said Laura Hodgson, a real-estate agent with The Cascade Team , who works in The Greater Seattle Area, and keeps a list of trusted mortgage pros on her website HERE.
Agents want to work with buyers whose lenders know the local market and have a record of getting deals done. That reassures the listing agent and the seller that a sale will close. In markets like Seattle and the surrounding area, where buyers frequently go up against multiple offers and all-cash bids, confidence that a sale will happen can separate a winning bid from the rest.
‘In housing markets where bidding wars are common, buyers who need financing can strengthen their offers by working with a locally based mortgage broker or loan officer.’
Online lenders can offer convenience, and it is still useful for borrowers to shop around for the best rates and terms. However agents in hot markets caution that a small difference in rates isn’t the most decisive factor in choosing a lender. “Ability to close is even more important,” said Shane Coulter, another agent with The Cascade Team who specializes in $1+ Million homes in the affluent Seattle suburbs. "If I have personal knowledge of a lender with a track record of getting a deal closed, I pass that information on to my sellers when presenting offers, and on the other side of the coin, I get a trusted local lender to make a personal call to the listing agent when representing the buyer to strengthen my clients offer and assure the sellers agent;" Shane reports.
Reputation matters. “Finding someone you can do business with, communicate with and enjoy speaking with, is also important,” said Tim Manni, a mortgage expert with NerdWallet, a San Francisco-based personal-finance company.
Another factor is speed: Often sellers fielding multiple offers will choose the buyer who can close quickly, making it difficult for buyers who need the typical 30- to 45-day window to get a loan. Mortgage lenders in fast-paced markets are tuned to quicker closings.
Local lenders accustomed to dealing in a hot market and with clients competing with all cash offers, often work to arrange loans in 15 to 18 days—a duration that is competitive with the typical 10- to 14-day closing for an all-cash deal. Top lenders will also fully underwrite buyers—essentially offering a full credit approval, rather than just a preapproval—before the offer.
Working with a mortgage professional who has an existing relationship with a buyer’s agent also tends to mean more personal contact, and the ability to get questions answered promptly. “You can send this person a text message at 9 o’clock at night,” Laura Hodgson said "And more importantly; get a response!".
We looked at the data on thousands of offers agents for The Cascade Team wrote and received in the last two years to see how the strategies we track affected buyers’ odds of winning a bidding war: