How I Chose My Lender
Early in my homebuying process I decided to work through my local housing finance agency for a specific financing program. This meant I could essentially work with any lender who was participating in the program and get the standard rate and options regardless of which company. The Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae recently conducted a study on mortgage shopping and found that one-third of people do not shop around to multiple lenders for a mortgage.
Although it would not necessarily affect my financial outcome, it was very important to me to find a lender that I felt comfortable working with throughout the process. The last thing I wanted to do was make the most important financial decision of my life and feel completely unsatisfied after because I didn’t get the attention I deserved from my lender. It is like going to buy a car and being ignored or treated unfairly before you even have an opportunity to test drive anything, an experience I recently had.
The first lender I met with was great. He presented at the housing seminar I attended a few weeks earlier. I went into his office for our meeting, which I have been told is not common because most people work over the phone and through email. He was wonderful at answering all my questions, walking me through every step of the financing process, and following up with me afterward. Shortly after our meeting, I found a new construction property I wanted to purchase, which had several “preferred lenders.” The hitch with preferred lenders is they come with financial concessions if you work with them. This lender, unfortunately, was not on the list.
The next lender I connected with was on the preferred lenders list. We ran through the prequalifying process very quickly. Given that this was a new construction, most of the work we would do would occur months later at closing. But a few days into the process I emailed with additional questions, and it took several calls and reminder emails to get a response. This was the exact situation I wanted to avoid. I felt completely blown off. I immediately called my real estate agent, and he gave me a recommendation from the preferred list. He assured me this next conversation would be exactly what I was looking for.
During my first conversation with the third lender, there were two people on the call to discuss my options. Given I had already met with several lenders, all of my paperwork was in order and was easily processed. It was made very clear that I would have no problem getting in touch with their office if I had questions at any time. This was exactly what I was looking for.
Over the next several months while my building’s construction was being completed, they emailed every few weeks just to make sure everything was moving along smoothly. They answered every question I had and not only made me feel comfortable with the process but empowered by my decisions. Going into closing in the next few weeks, it will be the first time I have met them in person, but I am very grateful for their customer service. Third time was the charm.
Customer service is a vital part of the process, before and after a mortgage is signed. People need to start off feeling empowered by their purchase. Although it didn’t have a financial impact, in the end I am happy that I stuck to my gut and kept looking until I found the right company for my situation.
Keosha Burns is a Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, for Fannie Mae. She is also a first-time homeowner living in Washington, DC. Her new series, #ReadySetHome, offers readers an in-depth look into her homebuying journey, from start to closing and beyond.