| Buying | By Anslie Stokes

One of the first steps towards buying a home is getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Choosing the right lender is crucial, but the selection process isn’t always simple. Homebuyers have many options, including national banks, lenders based out of state, and online providers.

At the Stokes Group, we strongly recommend going the local route. Here are five reasons we believe you should choose a reputable lender that works in the D.C. metro area.

1) They know the D.C. landscape

The regulations that govern homebuying vary from state to state. A good local lender will know the ins and outs of buying in the D.C. area. They’ll understand our regional sales contract and standards of practice—a must if you want to avoid hitting snags during the process. They’ll also be better able to estimate your closing costs than a lender based elsewhere.

Working with a local lender can also be helpful during the appraisal process. Big banks like Wells Fargo use appraisal management companies (AMCs) to dispatch and track appraisers. AMCs take a sizeable cut of the fees involved, and they don’t always vet their appraisers thoroughly. That’s bad news if you’re a buyer, since an inaccurate valuation could stall a transaction or lead to a smaller loan.

Your best bet is to find a local lender that manages its own pool of appraisers through its compliance department.


2) You’re less likely to default

If you work with a big bank, your loan will be underwritten and processed in one central location—along with tens of thousands of others from across the country. Unfortunately, there’s a big problem with this approach: it doesn’t take regional timelines into account.

In some parts of the country, closing dates aren’t firm. Not so in the D.C. area. Here, if you’re under contract to buy a house and you fail to meet your closing date, you could be found in default—an outcome that can lead to major headaches, including the loss of your earnest money deposit.

A local lender can help ensure that your loan is processed smoothly, and by your closing date.

To prevent potential issues from arising, the person who verifies that you qualify for your loan should work in the same physical office as your loan officer.


3) You can speak to them face-to-face

Getting pre-approved for a loan can be a complicated process. While some buyers would prefer to complete it online, there are clear benefits to speaking with a loan officer in person. A professional will answer your questions, help you through the process, and prevent you from making mistakes that could result in your loan being denied.

We’ve found that the buyers we work with are far more comfortable jumping into the pre-approval application process once they’ve spoken to an expert.

4) Sellers may take you more seriously

There are many ways that a transaction can go wrong when a buyer is pre-approved by an out-of-state institution. Sellers agents know this, which is why they often advise their clients to work with homebuyers who use local lenders.

Here’s what it boils down to: when you use a lender in the D.C. area, sellers will put more stock in your offer. It’s important to make yourself as appealing as possible to both sellers and their agents—especially in our competitive real estate market.

5) They’re reachable when you need them

There’s nothing more disheartening than seeing a deal fall through because an important deadline was missed. Unfortunately, we’ve seen this happen on occasions when homebuyers couldn’t get in touch with their lenders. Being in the same timezone can reduce the risk of a communications breakdown.

More importantly, local lenders are incredibly motivated to meet deadlines. Often, their reputations depend on it. Word of mouth is powerful. If a lender goes above and beyond for a borrower, it will be remembered—by everyone involved in the transaction.


Looking to learn more about the mortgage lending process? We can answer your questions—and even refer you to a local lender who can meet your needs. Let’s talk! Give us a call at 202.270.1081 or email us at anslie@thestokesgroup.com.


The Stokes Group is a team of dedicated professionals who have passion for the real estate business and will advocate for our clients with the utmost honesty, integrity, and confidentiality. We believe in building solid relationships with our clients and that starts by getting to know who we are. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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