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National vs. Local Mortgage Brokers: An Interview with Romney Navarro of Streamline Funding

By Romney Navarro

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

My name is Romney Navarro. I am the Vice-President of Lending of Streamline Funding, a boutique private lending firm located in Austin, TX. Streamline Funding is one of Texas' oldest and premiere private lending institutions, providing loans to real estate investors throughout the state since 2002. Our products are far from conventional as we specialize in financing "fix and flip" projects as well as new construction projects for real estate investors. We do not provide homeowner loans, instead we provide the interim financing to those who renovate and build the homes of future homeowners. Our clients range from those who "Buy Ugly Houses" to those who build small subdivisions in/ and around the major Texas metro areas.

What would you say is the main difference between national and local mortgage brokers?

Historically the main differences that I have seen between national and local mortgage brokers is the level of service provided to the end consumer. Generally speaking a local Broker can provide a level of service that a national one cannot as the local broker is able to meet with his/her client face to face and address concerns in a personal manner that a national Broker simply cannot as National Brokers typically do not have that luxury as setting up local representation ? many times this option is not financially feasible to the National Broker. To compensate, however, the National Brokers, have had to build processes and systems that tends to be superior to that of the Local Brokers as the cost to implement such systems many times is not feasible for the Local Brokers. Clearly both provide value but at the end of the day they also create a nice balance because it allows end consumers to choose their preference be it personalized attention or ease of transaction and little contact. Being that we, at Streamline Funding, are Regional Lenders we can many times appeal to those who fall somewhere between the two spectrums but even then, I have seen where we can be too small for those looking for a National Broker or too big for those looking for a Local Broker.

Can you briefly explain some of the advantages of going with a local home loan provider?

One main advantage that I can see in utilizing a local home loan provider is the ability to get references from people in the community that you know. In today's day and age where information is available at ones fingertips and online reviews appear to exist with everything this may not be as important in the past but I do believe that personal references do still hold a lot of weight and accountability is more tangible with someone in your area than it would be with someone in a distance. As a result I continue to see Local Brokers thriving on referral business whereas National Brokers rely heavily on their marketing to attract new clientele. .

Do national and local lenders offer the same rates?

Generally speaking, yes, I believe they can offer the same rates. Seeing how I am a private lender, however, I do not follow local and regional pricing is as closely as a traditional Broker and as such am not fully equipped to provide expert feedback.

What's it like for people to work with someone local compared with a national or Internet lender?

When someone works with a local Broker as compared to a national Broker, the level of direct communication and (obviously) face to face interaction is far greater solely due to their proximity and accessibility. While many people don't require such service there is still a large percentage of the customer base that does. Because of this a customer is able to experience far more tailored service that is not necessarily viable from the national Brokers. I have seen numerous times here in recent history, since the resurgence of the real estate market, that local Brokers and not national Brokers have been able to close on transactions that seemingly were "uncloseable" as those local Brokers were again able to position the client with a tailor made product suited specifically to their needs? a intangible service that national Brokers generally cannot offer.

What advice would you give first-time home buyers in the Austin area about choosing a mortgage broker?

Personally I tend to be more of an advocate of the local Broker for a number of reasons. For instance: A) the service level and product offerings are likely to more personalized than canned, B) it allows the business to stay in the local economy, C) you usually have more options because they have access to a wide variety of wholesale mortgage rates that national Brokers may not as they are usually limited to their own product offerings and D) they are typically easier to get in contact with and when someone is buying a home for a first time it is very likely that they are going to need to speak to their Broker often as they will have numerous questions to this somewhat foreign process. What I would suggest to a first time homebuyer who is choosing a mortgage Broker to finance their home is to ask their friends and family about who they may have used in the past and to provide them with good, candid feedback so that they could make an informed decision.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

We are very easily accessible by phone (512-250-8575), web ( www.streamlinefunding.com) or email (info@streamlinefunding.com). We can also be followed on the different social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. Currently we organize a monthly meeting for new and old real estate investors called the "Investment Real Estate Roundtable" in Austin (first Wednesday), San Antonio (second Wednesday), Houston (third Wednesday) and Dallas (fourth Wednesday). Anybody looking to learn more about real estate investing is welcomed as the group is basically an open networking forum whereby folks can meet, greet, network and learn. I strongly suggest this group to anyone interested in real estate investing to consider as it has proven, since its inception back in early 2013, to be a place where deals are made, relationships formed and ideas sparked. The Facebook page would be the best place to find out more information but one can also look it up on www.meetup.com by simply typing in the name of the group in its respective city.

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