Mortgage broker or direct to a bank?

What is a mortgage broker?

A mortgage broker is the middleman between the borrower and the bank or mortgage provider. In New Zealand all mortgage brokers are regulated by Financial Markets Authority. Mortgage brokers will usually have affiliations with a number of mortgage providers i.e. financial institutions like banks and Credit Unions. This means you can get them to do the leg work for you.

A mortgage broker will usually offer their services free of charge to the borrower because they get paid their commission from the banks margin. The important thing to understand here is that you will not get a less favourable interest rate by going through a broker. In fact, it’s possible a broker may be able to get the best rate for you by negotiating with a number of loan providers.

Where a broker operates under this commission model they only get paid when you take out a loan through them. There’s nothing wrong with this model but you do need to understand that they have a vested interest in you taking out a loan.

A brokers' job is to do the following:

  • Understand your financial situation and understand what products are available in the market place.
  • Use that information to hunt out the best options for you and present you with the best offers.
  • Offer advice on whether to fix or float and how different mortgage products are suited specifically to your financial situation.
  • When it comes to applying for a loan the broker should help you fill in any forms required and submit to the preferred lender.

How a broker differs from a salesman in a bank

  • The role that is done by a mortgage broker is very similar to the role a mortgage salesperson does at a bank or other financial institution. The main difference is that in a bank they can only sell the products from one provider (their own bank).

A broker should understand the market place and which lenders will be prepared to lend to you based on your financial situation i.e. if you have trouble borrowing because of your credit history a broker will know which lenders will be willing to lend.

In both instances you will receive professional advice that will help you decide which mortgage product is right for you. There are many different mortgage products i.e. fixed, floating, revolving credit and offset just to name a few variations and picking the right one is key to the best use of your funds.

Negotiating your home loan is the largest transaction most of us will make in our lives. It is one of the main channels you have to create a direct relationship with your bank. If you use a broker to establish this relationship you will lose an opportunity to develop the one to one relationship.

In New Zealand not all banks are prepared to put business through brokers. The reason they do this is they see value looking after customers total banking needs and want to keep a direct relationship with their customers. Banks are after all of your banking business and believe there is value in creating a relationship with you to look after your mortgage, credit cards, daily account management like chequebooks, online banking etc. This is especially pertinent if you want to use bank products that are not covered by a broker such as credit cards, savings accounts and term deposits, to name a few.

  • The other side of this is that brokers do not have access to all lenders in the market place. Brokers work through organisations called aggregators, which give them access to a pool of lenders like banks and credit unions. It may be the case that the broker you are dealing with does not have access to a specific bank and hence cannot offer you their mortgage products. This is not a problem, just important that you as the borrower understand how it works and the value of shopping around.

How do I pick which one to use?

Whether you use a broker or go direct can only be decided by you based on your knowledge of the mortgage industry and your financial requirements. However, it's industry practice for both a broker and a bank salesperson to provide their services free to consumers (brokers are compensated by the institution providing the loan). Hence you have nothing to lose by trying each one to see which is the right fit for you.

Awareness of the market place is key, there are not just brokers and banks out there. The New Zealand mortgage industry participants include Credit Unions, Building Societies, Finance Companies and even Peer to Peer lenders have entered the market in recent years (although more in the Personal Loans space).

Broker vs Bank Checklist

  • Shop Around

    Both offer free advice so the fit will come down to personality and ability.

  • Be Upfront

    Explain that you are seeking quotes from different sources to find the best deal for you.

  • Clarify Fees

    Loan Fees – there may be an administration fee which should be clearly explained to you from the outset.

    Advice Fees – brokers usually operate from a commission arrangement but it does not hurt to clarify all potential charges at the beginning.

  • Build Trust

    If you don’t feel the person is looking after your needs then try someone else until you find the fit that is right for you.