Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Dodgy mortgage brokers and estate agents

I watched the Prime Time Investigates programme on Monday night with interest. (You can download it from RTE - requires RealPlayer.)


Sadly, I can't deny that some of the practices that were mentioned do occur, specifically the ones referring to mortgage brokers illegally sharing confidential information with estate agents to whom they are affiliated. I had personal experience of being introduced to a mortgage broker at an industry Christmas lunch last year who was proudly able to announce the address of a property I was buying at the time, in front of all present. It wasn't any great secret that I was buying the property, but the principle was that I hadn't given any consent for the estate agent to pass my details over to the mortgage broker.


Obviously the issues raised in the programme were far more serious - the mortgage broker passes back confidential financial information about the client to the estate agent who then knows what the budget of the potential purchaser is, and tailors bidding to suit.


As is so often the case, the programme will probably do damage to the image of the mortgage broking industry in general even though any mortgage brokers of my acquaintance are honest professionals who are doing an excellent job for their clients.


I would have the following advice for any potential purchaser:


  • Don't use a mortgage broker or solicitor who is offered to you by the property developer or estate agent. Choose each ideally from personal recommendation. Most firms are professional enough to keep a distance from each other, but as the programme proved, there is the potential for conflict of interest.

  • When you're dealing with a mortgage broker, ask initially which lenders the broker represents. You should be looking for a list of at least half a dozen as anything less doesn't really offer a wide enough choice.

  • When a mortgage product is recommended, don't be afraid to ask why that product is better for your needs than that of another lender.

  • For all your mortgage needs, come to Ferguson & Associates! ;-)

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