Here’s an excellent article from the NY Times. The article brings up an excellent point. When you get a referral for a loan officer from your Realtor, make sure he/she is not getting anything in return for the referral. Two reasons: it’s illegal and that loan officer might not be the best fit for you as a buyer but simply someone that will compensate your agent.
I have a short list of lenders that I HIGHLY recommend to my clients to work with. I do not receive anything from them. The reason I refer them business is that I know they are extremely good at what they do and will provide my clients with excellent service.
Bottom line, make sure you can trust your Realtor and any recommendation they might provide.
When Real Estate Agents Make Referrals
By VICKIE ELMER, September 8, 2011
A REAL estate agent recommends two mortgage brokers whom she describes as experienced in closing loans. You go to the first one, and don’t bother shopping around on rates or fees.
That may or may not be a good choice. Either way, you have a right to be informed of any business relationship between the real estate agent and the mortgage broker.
A federal law passed in 1974, and updated with new rules in January 2010, prohibits referral fees, sharing fees (known as “fee splitting”), or giving anything of value, in any mortgage that could end up being sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, or being underwritten or guaranteed by other federal agencies. Called the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or Respa, the law also requires disclosures of affiliated or shared ownership businesses and a good-faith estimate on closing costs.
“If that real estate agent refers to me, it’s a violation of Respa for me to even take that real estate agent out to lunch,” said Irene Amato, the president of the A.S.A.P. Mortgage Corporation, a mortgage broker in Cortland Manor, N.Y.
When you receive a recommendation for mortgage bankers or brokers, you still need to do your homework, Ms. Amato said. Ask if the real estate and mortgage companies are affiliated. Meet the brokers or bankers in person, if possible, and ask about their professional background and credentials. Find out whether they handle mostly sales and mortgage originations or have broader experience and knowledge of underwriting and mortgage programs, Ms. Amato said. “What are they going to do for the borrower different than someone else?”
Consider, too, how much experience your real estate agent has. “If they don’t have much, what can you expect?” said Mark Yecies, a co-owner of SunQuest Funding in Cranford, N.J.
Although it is illegal to pay for referrals, that doesn’t stop them from being made — sometimes for old friends, experienced professionals or related companies.
It’s worthwhile to know why the referral is being made. Is it because the company is affiliated to the agency? Or because the mortgage professional has a great track record of closing deals? These are important questions, said Gene Tricozzi, the president of the Northern Funding Corporation in Clifton Park, N.Y., and a past president of the New York Association of Mortgage Brokers.
When he is referred to a potential customer, Mr. Tricozzi said, he sees it as a “pat on the back” and an endorsement of his expertise.