Your real estate agent doesn’t handle your mortgage, but they do play a big role in the overall homebuying process. And choosing an agent who understands the mortgage side of things? That can be a huge step toward ensuring a smooth, efficient, and challenge-free home purchase.
Are you currently working with a real estate agent? Here are some basic mortgage questions they should be able to answer for you:
Is there a mortgage lender or broker you recommend?
If an agent has been in the business a while, they should have recommendations for just about every vendor you need along the way. That includes home inspectors, title companies, and yes, even mortgage lenders. Ask them what lenders and brokers they recommend in your area. Are there any that their past clients were particularly happy with? Any you should steer clear of?
A quick note: Don’t take your agent’s recommendations as gospel. Rates and terms vary greatly between mortgage lenders, so get quotes from at least a few companies before choosing who to go with.
How can I ensure I get approved for my mortgage?
Your agent isn’t the one processing or approving your mortgage, but they should be able to give you some pointers on how to ensure a successful application. What documents should you get ready? Are there ways you can improve your credit before applying? Should you get a co-signer on your loan? These are all basic questions your agent should be able to help you with.
Will you work with my mortgage lender (and how will you do it)?
Your agent and lender should work together during the transaction, especially as the appraisal comes in and the property title is processed. Ask your agent if they’ll take the wheel and communicate directly with your lender/broker or if you’ll need to do it yourself. Will they regularly check in with your lender to make sure your closing is on track? How will they keep you apprised of what’s going on? Make sure you’re getting as much help as you need in the process.
I just got preapproved for my loan. What can I afford in our area?
Once you get preapproved with your chosen mortgage lender, show your agent your preapproval letter. It should spell out your estimated terms, rate, and loan amount. What areas should you be looking in for appropriately priced homes? What neighborhoods should you steer clear of? What sort of expectations should you set for the size and type of home you can afford?
Are their low-cost mortgages in our area?
If you’re buying a home in a more rural area, there’s a chance you might be eligible for a USDA loan (which means no down payment). Ask your agent if these loans are available in your area—and specifically in the ZIP codes you’re considering buying in. You should also ask about any local homebuying programs they know of. Many municipalities offer programs for first-time homebuyers or ones that can help with your closing costs or down payment if you meet certain income requirements.
Should you use a mortgage at all?
If you’re flush with savings, you might consider making a cash offer instead of applying for a mortgage loan. If this is something you’re thinking about, ask your agent what it might mean given your local housing market. If you offer cash, could you get you a better price on a home? Would a cash offer put you at an advantage or disadvantage in a bidding war? Get a feel for what a non-mortgage offer would mean for your homebuying prospects.
Can I take over someone else’s mortgage instead of getting my own?
If you don’t have great credit or mortgage rates aren’t low, you might be hesitant to apply for your own mortgage loan. Fortunately, with assumable mortgages, you don’t have to. These are loans that transfer with the property. VA loans are assumable, as our FHA loans, and most time, it’s noted in a listing that a mortgage loan can be assumed. If you’re thinking of doing this, talk to your agent about the process, and ask them to watch for assumable listings in your local market.
What can I expect at closing?
Your agent doesn’t have to attend the closing appointment with you, but the best ones usually do. To start, ask your agent if they’ll be on hand during your closing. If not, who will be there to help? You should also ask about the process: what should you expect and what should you bring. How long will it take? Should you bring along a checkbook? What forms of ID do you need? Get the full run-down well before the big day.
You can also ask them about closing costs. While they might not know the exact amount you’ll need to pay (that will come from your closing disclosure from your lender), they should be able to give you a ballpark idea of what to expect.