Smart About Money: Working with a local lender strengthens homebuyers’ offers

Like many local businesses, community bankers tend to be self-effacing. Sure, we’re proud of how we help customers and borrowers. We know we do a good job. We’re just not the type to boast about it.

There are things community banks do very well – better than the big national banks and out-of-state/online mortgage brokers. So when an objective 3rd party points those out, it becomes much easier for community bankers to say, “Yes, that’s true.”

In The Wall Street Journal on April 27th, there was an article headlined, “The Benefits Of A Local Mortgage Lender.” The Journal’s sub-head was, “Home purchasers seeking to stand out in competitive housing markets should consider a mortgage professional based in the area.”

That is absolutely 100% accurate and it was very encouraging to see it in the Journal.

Right now, the Boston metro area is one of the most competitive real estate markets in the country. How competitive? The Wall Street Journal ranks the Boston area right up there with San Francisco and Seattle. It does not get much more competitive than that.

In this environment, home buyers who need financing have to be ready to go above and beyond to prove they’re prepared. This can include very subtle things like choosing your lender strategically to reassure local REALTORS® and their sellers.

Since sellers would rather not worry for even one second about a buyer’s financing falling through, sellers’ agents are rightfully totally dedicated to working with buyers whose lenders have a demonstrated ability to close.

According to The Wall Street Journal, real estate agents say that in tight housing markets where bidding wars are common, buyers can strengthen their offers by working with a local lender. “Getting a local person helps you over certain humps – it just really does,” said Andrea Gordon, a real estate agent quoted in the Journal who “keeps a list of trusted mortgage pros on her web site.”

The key concepts there are “local” and “trusted.”

Presuming their rates are competitive (and they should be), the idea of working with a trusted local lender makes sense for two reasons:
1) The local lender has an incentive to do a good job and move quickly. They live and work in the community – not 8 or 25 states away. Local lenders tend to care about their reputation. They actually want to be dependable.

(Local REALTORS® work on the same premise. They want to be trusted in their community and trusted by their sellers. Which is a significant part of why sellers’ agents actually care about where a buyer’s financing is coming from. They’re looking for as close as they can get to a certainty that a deal will go through smoothly and fast.)

And 2) Working with a local lender actually benefits buyers in another way. Buying a house can be complicated. There are a lot of moving parts. So if there are any problems or questions or issues, working with someone in the same time zone can make a big difference to a buyer’s peace of mind. Ideally, you want to work with a lender you know, like and trust — someone who is here for you.

In a tight housing market, are local lenders better? Community bankers know we can make a real difference. The Wall Street Journal agrees.

Nick Maffeo is the President & CEO of Canton Co-operative Bank in Canton. “Smart About Money” is a regular column he writes for the Canton Citizen. Have a financial question you’d like to ask? Email to

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