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Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over two decades of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. Shmuel provides a uniquely holistic approach to comprehensive real estate and financial matters that goes well beyond any single transaction. Shmuel is an award-winning financier recognized for maximizing the short-term and long-term objectives of his client. As a contributing writer to many local and regional newspapers and publications, his insights have been featured in the media for many topics, including mortgages, personal finance, appraisals, and real estate trends.

Not everything that glitters is gold. I first heard that cliche about 25 years ago when my father was telling his client not to buy a house. The anxious buyer desperately wanted to put in an all-cash offer on a discounted house that would surely be sold quickly. My father, his real estate agent at the time, thought something was suspect or didn’t like the quality of the building, and insisted on a full engineer’s inspection, even at the expense of losing the deal. Needless to say, the asbestos, mold or lead-paint damage (I forget which) would have cost this buyer three times as much to repair as he would have saved on the so-called discounted “priced to sell fast” house. I don’t know if my father still uses that expression, but I know for certain he still operates under that principle— and it has been a lesson that has been with me throughout my life.

I, too, have learned early in my career, and am reminded time and time again, how if something is too good to be true, then it probably will come back to bite someone sooner or later. Widgets, gadgets, quick fixes, you name it—whatever the item, there is almost never a true discount for true quality or service. In the real estate world, this couldn’t be truer or more prevalent. From online mortgage portals offering rates or service that seem unattainable, to novice mortgage agents promising terms or conditions that I know they won’t be able to attain, to online real estate websites offering home estimates or the like—just to name a few—discount service providers seem to be garnering a lot of attention. Many prospects and clients have been lost to smooth-talking, undercutting salesmen or automated self-serve mortgage portals that don’t know the difference between a FICO score and a FIFA score.

In a world dominated by social media circles, degrees of friendship separation and spheres of online influence, it seems like everyone “knows a guy” that can offer them whatever service or product they need. Platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. have made multi-billion dollar businesses out of grouping interests, sharing information and merging resources so that people can be more connected to one another. For some basic items and needs, these resources are invaluable and can lead to seamless transactions and discounted products. Yet, I continue to be amazed at how many people rely on lousy recommendations, unfit resources and inexperienced professionals to handle major purchase items and important transactions.

When it comes to selling a house, buying a house or financing a house, the person with the most “likes” or “shares” is not necessarily the one most suitable to handle your housing or financing needs. When selling, the highest offer isn’t always the best offer. When financing, the lowest term isn’t always the best mortgage; and when dealing with a professional, the lowest fee isn’t always the most advantageous. I have heard countless horror stories in the last few weeks alone of mortgage pre-approvals from clumsy brokers that were useless, real estate contracts with inept realtors or lawyers that dragged on for months—only to terminate for no good reason, and closings that have fallen apart at the last second because of issues that should have been avoided.

The realtor with the lowest commission is not always the best recommendation just because your friend or neighbor used them, and your friend or cousin who is in the mortgage business, or who “knows a guy,” isn’t always the most suitable to address your specific needs. One of the most valuable services that I offer is custom-tailoring my approach and consultation to my clients’ unique situation. Specific realtors or attorneys are appropriate for one type of transaction, whereas a completely different level of advice and guidance is needed for another. In the end, experience, knowledge, competence and skill will always shine through strongest.

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