When you’re searching for a mortgage, it can be difficult to know where to start. As a modern-day consumer, you’re probably starting your search online, and you’ve researched various options and companies for your home loan.

While there will be several factors lead to your decision—the most important factor should be the level of customer service provided throughout the mortgage process, says Laura Cooper, President of Towne First Mortgage in Richmond, Virginia.

“When you’re getting a loan, you’re going to want a personalized experience,” Laura said. “Mortgage industry guidelines are strict and everchanging. The mortgage process can be overwhelming and tedious, so you need one-on-one guidance.”

Using a local lender can help smooth out the process and will provide you with numerous other advantages.

Here are four reasons why you’ll want the guidance a local loan officer.

Individualized customer service and attention to detail.
Why is this important?

Laura says, “Buying a home is the biggest financial investment you’re going to make in your life, and you need to have someone who will meet with you face-to-face and set the proper expectations, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer. A local lender will stick by your side throughout the process, from start to finish and provide you with a comfort level that isn’t possible with a long-distance lender. When you have questions on nights and weekends, you’re able to call your loan officer and get the answers you need. You don’t have to deal with calling different hotline numbers and speaking with people that know your file number and not your name. Having that personal attention is something that’s invaluable, and you’re not going to get that anywhere else.”

Make your offer more attractive to sellers.
Why is this important?

Laura says, “In today’s market, we’re seeing that inventory is limited—meaning homebuyers could be facing a lot of competition from other buyers. When you submit an offer with a pre-approval letter from a local lender, it adds strength to your offer. This is because sellers or listing agents know that a local lender is accessible and that they won’t be bounced from department to department if they have questions or issues that need to be sorted out. They will also rest assured that they have more control over the transaction, making the potential for fall through much less.”

Access to local products, local professionals and knowledge of the local real estate and mortgage market.
Why is this important?

“Local lenders can also provide you with niche, regional or state loan products, such as the VHDA loan, that other national companies cannot offer. These programs can be a huge benefit for first-time buyers, and can be the difference between qualifying and not qualifying for a loan. Local lenders have relationships with local real estate professionals. They use a local appraiser, who will determine the best and most accurate value of the property. They’re also very knowledgeable about the local market, something hugely important when buying real estate. For instance, the process for obtaining flood insurance is going to be much different in a coastal region than it would be in a suburban inland area, so if you work with a lender who isn’t from a coastal area, there is bigger potential for mistake.”

Local processing and underwriting.
Why it’s important?

“After applying for a loan, an underwriter will review your loan file and verify your ability to repay the loan. When you use a lender like Towne, you can rest assured that your loan file is being reviewed in-house, and not being sent to a different location to be reviewed. In our office, we pride ourselves on being able to “tell the story” of the loan file with the underwriter. This basically means that we have the ability to talk through our loans with the underwriter, to help them understand certain circumstances that they might not be seeing on paper. It’s not black and white, we have grey areas—which is a huge advantage.”


Laura Cooper Venture President and Loan Officer with Towne First Mortgage. She can be reached via phone at 804-647-2196, or through email at [email protected] NMLS #697543.

The information contained herein (including but not limited to any description of TowneBank Mortgage, its affiliates and its lending programs and products, eligibility criteria, interest rates, fees and all other loan terms) is subject to change without notice. This is not a commitment to lend.