Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


Why I Changed My Mind About Independent Mortgage Brokers

Times have changed in the mortgage industry, haven't they?

There used to be a time when I actively discouraged my clients from a) the use of online mortgage services, and b) independent mortgage brokers.  This is why:

Right in my first year of business one of my buyers insisted on working with a broker from somewhere in southern Virginia.  Of course, he was the warmly recommended cousin of a friend of a colleague.  Or something like that.  The guy had given them a nice pre-approval letter, so who was I to question that.  We had a couple of strange phone conversations, but I chucked the funny feeling off to the fact that they probably did business differently down there in Richmond or whereever he was from.

You guessed it.  The loan never materialized.  We didn't find out until two days before settlement, when I was desperately trying to get some figures.  The young couple, first-time buyers, were in default.  Only with a lot of begging and the swift rescue operation by a large national lender could the transaction be saved.

(Oh, and needless to say, the buyers blamed me.)

So for years, pretty much all of my buyers had to go to direct local lenders or national lenders with a local presence.  No more brokers, please!  I felt this was safer, and I didn't know any better.

Until a couple of years ago, when one of my clients, who moved to DC from New York, brought Seth into the picture.  Seth Opert of Royal Mortgage was who he would use for his loan.  No discussion.  I tried not to roll my eyes.

It turned out that Seth, in the business for himself, was one of the most impressive mortgage people I'd met.  He delivered exactly what he promised; he held everybody's hands through every little crisis along the way; he had the appraisal approved on time; he had the money at the settlement company a couple of days before settlement; he distributed HUD-1's several days early; he showed up for each closing.

Right now, however, I feel a special need to celebrate Seth (licensed in DC, VA, MD, NY) because he just gloriously saved a transaction that a large national bank/lender had dropped for obscure reasons

In short, Seth not only changed my mind, but I also have recommended him ever since.

It occurs to me that the changing mortgage market has created a new, special stage for independent mortgage brokers.  With increasingly limited (and daily changing) underwriting guidelines for most lenders, a broker might have a lot more flexibility and options in finding the right loan for you.
What do you think?

© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 9 commentsCatarina Bannier • June 24 2008 12:45PM


It's great that you have a go-to person you can truly count on. It doesn't matter whether the company is big or's about the quality of the person doing the work! :)

Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 10 years ago

Yes, Kelly--ist just like on our end:  it all comes down to the people business, the personal service and engagement (or lack thereof). 

In all fairness, the local loan officer from the big bank was also somebody I've been working with for years -- for the most part successfully.  I don't think he was to blame.  It probably was more of a case of pressure and anxiety in the underwriting department somewhere in North Carolina.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago

Catarina- I am right with you.  I have a guy with less then the perfect buying scenario.  OK credit; some cash; lower income.  He is buying a flip property - traditional lenders wouldnt look at him - a broker I know made it happen.

Sometimes a good Mortgage Broker has more contacts and more flexibility.

Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) over 10 years ago

Cati, one big point you make is how important the individual loan officer is!  That really makes all the difference in the world.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 10 years ago


Mortgage brokers can get it done right, as Seth here has proved. For a client it's advisable to talk with a few mortgage experts and then decide who is the most professional and let him handle the loan.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 10 years ago

James, Pat, Esko-- thanks for your comments.  It sounds like you all agree that it depends on the individual person, and I'm sure that's true.

James, that's interesting with your flip buyer--good luck with him!

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago

I used Seth  fromRoyal Mortgage for our closing in Buffalo, NY after a friend from NYC recommended him. Frankly, he's one of the most professional business people I've ever worked with. Seth is great at what he does, and he makes closing a house actually enjoyable.

Posted by John over 10 years ago

Catarina- I have been leery of many Mortgage Brokers for years.  It didn't help that so many the only things I heard was "no problem" and how much they would make.  Neither of these were confidence builders for me......but things change.  I think it does depend on the person.

Posted by Kathy McGraw, Riverside County CA Real Estate (CELLing Realty) over 10 years ago

Hi Kathy, that's interesting.  Here, I have never heard anyone ever mention how much they would make on a loan, neither direct lenders nor mortgage brokers, not even when i knew that sometimes loan officers threw something in to match somebody else's rates.

Come to think of it, I'm rather oblivious.  I really have no clue how much the commission on, say, a $500k loan would be.  (Just know that some people deserve it more than others.)  I'd be curious, though.  How is it influenced by the terms of the loan?

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago