Real estate agents are great at referring clients to their lender partners — and that’s a good thing, because fielding mortgage-related questions from homebuyers seems to make them a bit nervous, according to a recent survey by government-sponsored enterprise Freddie Mac.

  • A Freddie Mac survey found that 84 percent of respondents have a select group of lenders to which they refer their clients, and 76 percent said their clients use those referrals.
  • Half of the agents surveyed said they do not feel confident about educating buyers on the mortgage process.

Real estate agents are great at referring clients to their lender partners — and that’s a good thing, because fielding mortgage-related questions from homebuyers seems to make them a bit nervous, according to a recent survey by government-sponsored enterprise Freddie Mac.

Freddie, which commissioned the survey of more than 500 real estate professionals in advance of the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) annual conference in Orlando, polled agents about the role they play in the homebuying process and their current business challenges.

Referrals and networks

The survey found that 84 percent of its respondents have a select group of lenders to which they refer their clients, and 76 percent said their clients use those referrals. That number climbed to 87 percent among those who sell more than 20 properties per year.

The survey also found that 73 percent of the respondents who said they refer their clients to their lender partners have one to three lenders in their network, while 24 percent of them work with four to six lenders.

Challenges for real estate agents

Although more than 80 percent of agents surveyed said their clients trust their knowledge and advice during the homebuying process, 35 percent of respondents said they feel “challenged” by their clients’ lack of understanding of the process.

In particular, half of the agents surveyed said they do not feel confident about educating buyers on the mortgage process.

Another 30 percent of respondents said they were similarly uncomfortable explaining down payment assistance program options to their clients.

Only 38 percent of real estate professionals said their clients would find them to be a trusted adviser who could help refer them for housing counseling if they need or want more education on the process.

Top challenges for agents based on Freddie Mac's survey

Top challenges for agents based on Freddie Mac’s survey

Other challenges that agents mentioned included attracting clients (55 percent), low inventory (55 percent), unrealistic expectations from buyers about what they can afford (52 percent) and clients’ lack of cash-in-hand for a down payment (42 percent).

Buying and selling — with agents

Freddie’s survey comes on the heels of NAR’s release of its annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, which found that despite a record-high 51 percent of buyers saying they found the home that they purchased online, 90 percent of respondents who said they used the internet still ended up purchasing their home through a real estate agent.

Newly elected NAR President Bill Brown said Freddie’s survey is “another affirmation of a Realtor’s role at the center of the transaction.”

“Recommending good professional help is part of what a real estate agent does for a client, whether that client is looking for a mortgage lender, a title agent or even a cleaning service. It’s just one of many ways agents help guide people smoothly through a complex buying and selling process,” Brown said.

Email Amy Swinderman

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