Loan Officer and Real Estate Agent, No References....?????

22 Replies

Hi All,

So i found a real estate agent and loan officer thru bigger pocket referrals and was ready to meet with them.....until i asked for references AND both hit me with what I feel to be a lame excuse. "I can't give my client's personal info out, but please see the testimonials on *insert social media and business web address here*. Is this normal or is my gut right and should I stop this relationship before it starts?

Thanks for your input!

@Chanise P. I may be biased but I agree with the realtor/lender. I also am not 100% sure that it is legal, whatsoever, for them to give you the contact information of their closed clients. That is private information. 

I would say the reviews on Zillow, Yelp, Google are hopefully a fairly solid indication of their legitimacy. You also have a whole forum at your fingertips that you found the professionals through and you could ask if anyone on here has an experience with them. 

For a lender, maybe this true. For an agent, they should definitely be providing references.

@Jeff Dulla Ok thanks for the input. Do you think it's better for someone concerned about high closing costs to go thru their financial institution or to get a loan officer? This is the reason that i was looking into loan officers but i'm starting to have second thoughts about that because theres no real way to know how experienced they are...

@Wayne Brooks Thank you. I'm currently setting up meetings with other real estate agents. This realtor is fairly new and now with no references i'm going to steer clear.

@Chanise P. As an agent, I have a handful of past clients who have already given me permission to give out their numbers as references.  I wouldn't do it without asking them first, but there is no reason they couldn't come up with a few people who would be willing to talk to you.

@Chanise P. Good question. I think ultimately you need to talk to a few people. I think you can get to a point where you are nickle and diming, over analyzing some of this to your detriment but on the other hand, there are a lot of terrible lenders and realtors out there. 

From a cost perspective, traditionally speaking you would want to do what you were doing - go through a mortgage banker or broker. But to paint with that wide of a brush would just be an ignorant thing for me to say. I would typically start with someone, anyone, that you trust and has some real estate experience. Get a referral from them. Talk to that person and talk to the person you are already talking to. Ask for a full cash to close estimate or fee sheet. Compare the two. 

You are on the right track and do not panic. Just find another reliable source or two and ask the right questions. Hopefully this is helpful. 

In the beginning of my career, I used to ask clients to provide me with a testimonial that I could provide new clients.  I had quite a stack, which I published to my website once I had one.  However, after 20+ years in the business, I don't ask for them much anymore, and don't really need to provide them in order to validate my experience with new clients.

I don't think it is an unreasonable ask.  However, I wouldn't hold it against the agent if they didn't have any to provide you.  Testimonials from their website should suffice.  I can understand not wanting to share past client's info every time a new client wanted to call for a reference.  Would YOU want to be called EVERY time a new client wanted to interview your past agent?  It sounds like badgering to me.  I woudn't do that to my clients.

You CAN, however, research through the department of RE website in your area to see if your agent has ever had a complaint lodged against them, or if they have had disciplinary action.  It will also tell you how long they have been licensed, and who they hang their license with (and if they move around alot).

Originally posted by @Chanise P. :

Hi All,

So i found a real estate agent and loan officer thru bigger pocket referrals and was ready to meet with them.....until i asked for references AND both hit me with what I feel to be a lame excuse. "I can't give my client's personal info out, but please see the testimonials on *insert social media and business web address here*. Is this normal or is my gut right and should I stop this relationship before it starts?

Thanks for your input!

 I can't speak for the agent's side of things, but on the lending side when it comes to consumers/homebuyers:

  • Several years ago I got consent from a bunch of past clients to use them as references. 
  • On the "push" side, I handed these out for a while, but no one called them or cared.
  • On the "pull" side, no one really requests references from me. Maybe once a year, max.
  • As a result of a complete lack of consumer demand, I no longer maintain a list of references who have consented to me sharing their contact info. 
  • If I had a full loan app & credit package in-hand and knew (based on actual paperwork, not based on verbal statements) that someone wasn't a tire-kicker (a solid majority of the people that reach out to a lender/agent are in fact tire kickers & time wasters), I'd probably be able to get consent from some past clients to use them as references, but I wouldn't go bugging these folks for someone that hadn't sent in paperwork/applied. 

For agents it is a little different. You don't really need their consent to share their info with other agents (they live & breathe networking), and if you do your job well they will be happy to sing your praises to other agents (& guess who just built up a favor in the favor bucket for the next marginal borrower or super fast loan closing needed). 

@Dawn Brenengen Thank you! I do feel that I could possibly do business with the loan officer or at least move into the next phase but i'm going to find a different realtor. I want/need someone who KNOWS the business better than me. WAY better than me and i'm not getting the vibe or the professional confirmations that this realtor does.

@Jeff Dulla Thanks for the info. I don't think i'm nickel and diming just yet. I'd gotten a closing estimate from my credit union to the tune of 22k on a 275k loan and balked! I'm doing an FHA loan so that i don't have to come 30k out of pocket including dp so a closing fee in the tens of thousands put a sour taste in my mouth.

Originally posted by @Chanise P. :

@Dawn Brenengen Thank you! I do feel that I could possibly do business with the loan officer or at least move into the next phase but i'm going to find a different realtor. I want/need someone who KNOWS the business better than me. WAY better than me and i'm not getting the vibe or the professional confirmations that this realtor does.

@Jeff Dulla Thanks for the info. I don't think i'm nickel and diming just yet. I'd gotten a closing estimate from my credit union to the tune of 22k on a 275k loan and balked! I'm doing an FHA loan so that i don't have to come 30k out of pocket including dp so a closing fee in the tens of thousands put a sour taste in my mouth.

FHA loans have a standard funding fee of 1.75% of the loan amount, but it can typically be rolled into your loan balance and not paid out of pocket.

The second highest "closing cost" with a typical FHA loan is only a "closing cost" in quotes. The money to fund your escrow account for taxes and insurance is still your money, since it's paying your taxes and insurance. It's a "closing cost" in that you have to have it at closing, but not a true closing cost since it goes to pay for stuff that you'd have to pay for even if you were a cash buyer.

Is that inconsistent with the estimate you rec'd? 

@Cara Lonsdale I just keep hearing that real estate is a networking and relationships game. I know these people don't have 20+ years in the business yet so i'd like a convo w/ past clients. They don't have a track record that "speaks for itself" yet so i was looking for some reassurances. I think i'm going to take this as a sign that i need to keep looking the right professionals to assist in this process.

@Chris Mason I understand the concept of not doing too much for someone wasting time. But i've expressed to them that i'm interested in moving pretty fast through the process but not so fast that i shoot myself in the foot, i've done everything theyve asked short of the application which was supposed to be done today in person at 4:30 ( i will likely cancel that meeting). I was honestly just getting everything in order when i realized from my notes that i hadn't asked for references  and then BAM I got an answer i was in no way prepared/expected to receive.

@Chris Mason its VERY inconsistent with the quotes i received. My credit union quoted at exactly 8% of the purchase price not even the loan amount..granted with an FHA theres barely a difference but still....i think i'm going to reach back out to my credit union and get another quote. I was physically in the branch that day...i should've asked for a manager or another mortgage professional. There were also all kinds of fees. Origination, discount, a quote for the year of PMI upfront(she later removed that) another indication that i should've asked for someone else....

Originally posted by @Chanise P. :

@Cara Lonsdale I just keep hearing that real estate is a networking and relationships game. I know these people don't have 20+ years in the business yet so i'd like a convo w/ past clients. They don't have a track record that "speaks for itself" yet so i was looking for some reassurances. I think i'm going to take this as a sign that i need to keep looking the right professionals to assist in this process.

@Chris Mason I understand the concept of not doing too much for someone wasting time. But i've expressed to them that i'm interested in moving pretty fast through the process but not so fast that i shoot myself in the foot, i've done everything theyve asked short of the application which was supposed to be done today in person at 4:30 ( i will likely cancel that meeting). I was honestly just getting everything in order when i realized from my notes that i hadn't asked for references  and then BAM I got an answer i was in no way prepared/expected to receive.

 Try reaching out to some of the professionals that they work with.  The lender or title company might be able to provide a good reference for the Realtor.  If you speak to one of them and they tell you that they don't really know the agent very well, then you have your answer....the agent isn't busy and maybe not experienced.  If they have all kinds of things to say, listen up.

Also, ask them what the most difficult deal was that they did with that Realtor, and how the agent handled it.  They don't need to disclose client details, but they can convey the situation and how the agent handled themselves in the situation.  That might accomplish what you are trying to learn about the agent.

I think @Chris Mason hits on an interesting point with FHA. Those fees can be higher due to those extra fees.

No one mentions this when they recommend to go the low down money route

We get asked that by potential investors all the time. We won't disclose who our investors even are let alone their contact info, but I do reach out to current investors and ask their permission to have the potential investor call them to ask about how we are going for them. Personally, I would be skeptical about someone that refused to introduce me to a reference, but I would also be skeptical of someone that handed out the contact info of a client to anyone that asked. We just reach out to current investors and say, "Mr. Jones is thinking of investing with us. Would you mind if I had him call you for a reference." I've never had a current investor say no. If they are unwilling to do that for you, then I would have concerns. 

Thank you all for your responses. I think i'm going to go back to the drawing board and back to the bank to reasses these closing costs. I'll take a better look at all lines of the estimate and ask more detailed questions. I have decided to expand my realtor search. I just don't think that these two were the right fit for me. I got a little overzealous but had a nagging feeling that i shouldn't go w/ them from the start(largely based on their inexperience) but after speaking with them and finding out that changing my lease to month to month will cost an extra $220/month, I got sucked up in a whirlwind of urgency, emotion, and excitement. I'm taking a step back and letting logic take the wheel again. I leave for a work trip tomorrow and i'll take that time to research more and spend more time in this forum while also deciding where i'm going to get my preapproval from and scheduling the appropriate meetings.

Thanks! I really appreciate all of the responses.

if you have  used a  loan officer  previously successfully ( or if you have had one referred to you deirectly )   and if they can lend in the area you are looking ...I would  re use this same  loan officer  as long as there  pricing is competitive ......in 20 +  years  of being a  loan officer - I have never  had a client ask for references

They should at least have escrow and title reps that would be more than pleased to tell you about them.

@Chanise P. Typically, the agent and lenders would contact their clients first before giving out personal information. Also, you'd surprise what a simple googling would do! 

Hope this helps. Goodluck. Thanks! - Ola

@Dave Skow This is my first purchase so i don't have anyone that i've used before and i'm newer to the area so i'm taking referrals from people i don't really know...ie other bigger pockets members and coworkers

@Tyler Delbert i will definitely keep that in mind! Thanks!

@Ola Dantis Yes i have no issue with them asking first, that seems like an automatic courtesy. My issue was that they hadn't tried before saying it couldn't be done, so i felt that either they are so new that they don't have any references OR they don't have any good ones. Both google searches only brought up LinkedIn pages...

Well this is a late chime-in from a Broker's perspective...I agree that an Agent may be reluctant to provide contact information for past clients for privacy reasons to start.  I would also say just being licensed for 20+ years does not mean they have the experience or knowledge working with certain types of clients.  My suggestion is to sit down with the Agent to ask about their actual experience and expertise.  Some Agents may be licensed and have experience in other areas of real estate. I've found not as many have experience working with Investors specifically thus may not understand their needs.  All of that to say, go with your gut but make sure when speaking to an Agent that you know what you are looking to accomplish and that they are knowledgeable in that specific area.  

Just wanted to add that my past clients have no issues with me asking  them to put a referral on a site like Zillow or even mention me in Nextdoor if someone is asking for a referral, but I would not feel comfortable giving out anyone's personal contact information unless I knew both of you very well. 

As far as the  lender is concerned, I still compare different lenders, and eventually you'll know which ones are better for certain loans.  I have different lenders that I recommend depending on if you are lower credit, first-time buyer, jumbo loan, investment loan, etc.  Always get several estimates and compare APRs.   FHAs, in my opinion, are extremely expensive, but it sounds like your credit union was charging you too much as well.   I think Movement Mortgage has a 3% grant program that may be a viable option in your price range.  I think Navy Federal has a 0-down option if you're a member there, although it's a higher rate.  And check out your state's programs for first-time homebuyers.  My son (in Virginia) came to closing with like $12 after paying for the inspection and attending a class using the VHDA program.   He then rented out a room for a few years and helped pay down his loan balance.    Your state might have a program like that, and you'd be surprised at how high of an income you can make and still benefit from it.   

@Maya Clark thanks for your input. i think i just need to get stronger at the initial conversation and really letting the agent know my goals. I thought I'd done a pretty good job of that but maybe not. Since this is my first purchase, I'm very apprehensive about choosing the "wrong" team....

@Lynn M. Yes i'm finding that FHAs are pretty expensive but it's the only viable way to get a 4plex in my area this year. I'm a member of Navy Federal and the quote that i received was from them. The zero down option is for a single family property only. I'm finding that this credit union is not very "investor" friendly...i used the quotes because i'm not yet an investor. I have looked into state and county grants and have started the paperwork to apply for them. A friend who knows the area but didnt' like her realtor let me know about them a few months ago. Thanks for your input!

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