If your Realtor or builder make a suggestion for a lender, be sure to talk to that lender. There are several reasons they make recommendations.
One reason Realtors and builders make suggestions is because they want to recommend someone reliable. Reliability is important to you, so that you don't end up with a horror story to tell. Reliability is also important to the seller, the agents, and everyone involved in your transaction because is the deal doesn't close, everyone walks away with nothing.
When agents and builders recommend lenders, they often develop a certain amount of "clout" in dealing with those lenders. This can help in a situation where you need to cut through "red tape" and get something done quickly.
When buying a new home, dealing with a recommended lender is often very important. This is because there are a lot of intricacies involved in new homes that do not exist when buying resale. If you "shop" around to find your own lender, you may end up with someone who quotes a great rate and is great with refinances or resales, but has no experience with new homes. This can lead to problems or delays.
Over the last ten years, real estate companies and builders have built up their own mortgage brokerages. "Bundled services" like this make sense because it adds another profit center to the company. This is useful because it helps real estate companies to offset higher commission splits with their agents.
In the early days of "bundled services," the loan officers and staff were often sub-par and the quality of service may not have been so great. Things have improved since then. However, because this is "captured business," sometimes these lenders don't have as much incentive to offer you great deals or lower rates. All you have to do is let them know you are "shopping rates" and they will probably work toward accommodating you as much as possible.
Never automatically disqualify a recommended lender, but be sure to be ask questions about any relationships between the lending company and your builder or real estate agent's company. That will help you be more vigilant on getting the best interest rate and the lowest costs.
Make sure to do a little shopping for yourself. By knowing the interest rates of the market and making sure your loan officer knows you are looking at rates from other institutions, you can use that as leverage to make sure you are obtaining the best combination of service and lowest rates.
copyright 2000 by Terry Light and RealEstate ABC, modified 2002