I Would Do Anything For Loans, But I Won't Do That

Mortgage and Lending with Mortgages in AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI NMLS #138061 MMCD #1141

I would do anything for loans, but I won't do that


Answer the phone at all hours of the day?  Work weekends?  Over-communicate, even when the communication is not fun?  Yep.  Check.  Check.  And check.  Invest in my business to provide what I feel is the best possible loan experience?  Done.  


When it comes to getting loans, I do a lot.  Over the past 15 years I've worked my tail off to create a steady stream of business that I can consistently rely on.  Much of that comes from relationships with some wonderful people that share my name (if you're one of them reading this - thank you!).  A lot of it comes from having helped many people, so that they share my name with friends & family, too.  


When it comes to doing loans, we do a lot to get them!  But like the musical artist Meatloaf, there are a few things I won't do (what exactly was it that Meatloaf wouldn't do?).  One of those things is "pay to play".


What is "pay to play"?  Simply put, it's paying for referrals.  There are a lot of different names for it - MSAs (marketing service agreement), "in house" lenders for builders and real estate offices, and just plain ole' RESPA violating kickbacks.  They're prevalent in the real estate industry, and some operate in a gray area of the rules while others are simply non-compliant, but many lenders and loan officers get many loans by paying to play.  


The very real downside of pay to play is it sells out the customer - YOU.  The home buyer.  If I have to pay to play, I have to cover the costs of "playing".  Who do you think those costs are being passed along to?  When a builder offers a credit, but only if they use their "preferred" lender, the customer is paying for that credit through the inflated purchase price of the property.  Or inflated lending costs (potentially fees, rate, or both).  Or inflated title costs from the "in house" title company.  One way or another, the customer pays.  


In mortgage, there's also rarely a situation where a fiduciary relationship between lender and client is in play.  For this reason, many "in house" lenders view their customers as the real estate agent whose office they're in, or the builder they're working for, and not the real customer - the home buyer.


Some folks have different opinions on MSAs and paying to play, but I've never liked it, and have never participated in it despite several offers that would have pumped up my loan volume.  To be clear, there are some very moral, above-board reasons someone may be a "preferred" lender.  For a builder, perhaps it's a lender that is willing to spend their weekends at the builder's community.  For a Realtor, it could be a lender that has solid cobranded marketing and is willing to assist in their business when it comes to open houses, seminars, or something similar.  But the moment money, quid pro quo, or financial incentives that are tied to going with one option (wasn't it Shakespeare who said "steering by any other name would smell as sweet...") are involved that things can get pretty shady, pretty fast.


I'd rather build a business on being the best.  Having the best loan process, the best product selection, the best service, and the best understanding of how I as a lender can help a customer AND a referral partner.  When it comes to paying to play?  I would do anything for loans, but I won't do that.

Posted by

John Meussner
NMLS ID #138061

It's more than a house - it's home.  So we offer a wide range of mortgage products at competitive prices to help our clients achieve financial security at home.  While we get great feedback on our prices and products, many clients say their favorite part of working with John Meussner & MasonMac is the level of service provided along the way.

Purchase money loans, Refinance, Renovation, Jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, nonQM, HELOCs, and more

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Comments (25)

Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hello John Meussner, ironically, I'm reading this post right after I got off the phone with someone asking for a part of my commission. It's not worth it. I know some do it, just not me.

May 24, 2022 04:50 PM
John Meussner

Thanks Beth!  And yes, everyone seems to want a cut, I'd rather refer, and get referrals, based on merit : )

May 25, 2022 09:00 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi John- love this!! And I am missing one of my favorite artists...Meal Loaf. I hummed his song (can you really hum a MeatLoaf song?) while reading your post. Doing all that you do puts you in a position to not have to pay to play. 

May 24, 2022 06:40 PM
John Meussner

Kathy Streib too funny- - I actually pulled up the video on youtube and listened while I was writing this : )

May 25, 2022 09:00 AM
Carla Freund
Keller Williams Preferred Realty - Raleigh, NC
Carolina Life RealEstate & Relocation 919-602-8489

Catchy title John! We all have things we won't do in our business. There's always someone out there who will. 

May 25, 2022 04:35 AM
John Meussner

Thanks Carla, couldn't agree more!

May 25, 2022 09:01 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Good for you. The key is keeping the customer's best interests at heart. If anything takes away from that, it's not a good path.

May 25, 2022 04:59 AM
John Meussner


May 25, 2022 09:01 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear John,

The leads you buy are worth so much. If you do change your mind, I probably have an old phone book somewhere that I could let you have for a mint. Same type of fool's errand.

May 25, 2022 06:29 AM
John Meussner

Haha Dorte Engel just let me know where to send the check! ; )

May 25, 2022 09:01 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning John,

Its always good to have a list of what "I won't do"..they are non-negotiable items! Setting boundaries and then not going over the line reinforces your integrity.

May 25, 2022 06:35 AM
John Meussner

Yes indeed.  Principles over profit!

May 25, 2022 09:02 AM
Robert Rauf
HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ) - Toms River, NJ

AMEN! I am right there with you, and almost 35yrs into this crazy business... I will not pay either.  That also comes down to leads in general, I will not pay for a lead - the best clients are referrals from happy business partners and previous clients who know I will treat them right.

May 25, 2022 06:39 AM
John Meussner

Robert Rauf I've occasionally bought leads, they can be a great supplement, but I couldn't imagine a business model focused on them (I think I can imagine...it's what we're seeing with the Better.com's of the world this year!).  Referrals always need to be the foundation, and for best result, they should be based on merit : )

May 25, 2022 09:03 AM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse Advisor

I have my list of preferred lenders- but as you correctly pointed out- I don't want to choose lenders due to referral fees. Instead, I focus on the products being offered and the quality of the service- usually meaning bankers that can offer very creative solutions to the clients. I have bankers that specialize in income restricted co-op's or bankers that specialize in overseas buyers, or bankers that specialize in non-warrantable properties, etc.  These bankers are on my preferred list of lenders because they earned it in every way. 

May 25, 2022 09:54 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

I have never liked this setup. It doesn't feel right at all. I wish it would be stopped.

May 25, 2022 12:43 PM
John Meussner

Me too!

May 25, 2022 04:49 PM
Matt Brady
Watermark Capital - Del Mar, CA
One of San Diego's Best Lenders

Hi John, while you make some good points you are casting a wide net that does not apply to all situations. Are you the preferred or recommended lender for Real Estate agents? Do they ask applicants to cross qualify with you? Why can't I have the same relationship with a builder? I have been the preferred lender for one builder for 18 years and I pay nothing for the privilege. Thanks for giving me an idea for a blog explaining why a builder might use incentives.

May 25, 2022 02:11 PM
John Meussner

Does FoA have any financial arrangement with the builder?  I do mention in my blog reasons that are perfectly above board as to why a builder may use a preferred lender - weekend availability, relationships on site, etc, etc.  But when the relationship is financially based, or a builder will give a buyer $$ only to use their lender, regardless of the quality of their preapproval, that's where things go shady, IMO.

May 25, 2022 04:49 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


It's all about one's principles, values and your integrity


May 25, 2022 07:36 PM
Stephen Turner
House Broker Realty - York, PA

good post. The best way to win business is by doing good work. No kickbacks, referrals, and such. My preferred lender is my preferred lender because she always does what she says she will. I trust her because she has proven herself and therefore EARNED my business!

May 26, 2022 07:03 AM
John Meussner

Love it Stephen Turner !  I see you're in my old stomping grounds, I use to live on the Lancaster county border and spent a decent amount of time in York.  Small world!

May 26, 2022 09:54 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

May 28, 2022 08:22 PM
John Meussner

Thanks Kathy, you're the best : )

May 31, 2022 10:05 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning John. In the end, mortgages are based on yield to the end investor. That said, to obtain that yield someone must pay and it is always the borrower. Enjoy your day.

May 29, 2022 05:25 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning John,

I'm so glad that Kathy Streib featured your post in her "Ah-Ha" moments for the week as I missed it. I've always felt earning business is by doing good work and personal referrals always give you an immediate connection (with no monetary fees exchanged). 

May 29, 2022 05:51 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
Relocation to NW AZ with elbow room & more freedom

High ethics and sound business practices make all the difference at the end of the day. Thank you.

May 29, 2022 06:02 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I really like the way you think and the way you do business.  It is the right way, for sure.

May 29, 2022 10:15 AM
John Meussner

Thanks Ray Henson I appreciate that!

May 31, 2022 10:06 AM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I have invited lenders to attend open houses and provide fliers for homes on the market, but I never get upset if they say no.

May 30, 2022 06:13 PM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Glad to see this post featured. I have vendors asking 'how' to get on my preferred list. 

''The very real downside of pay to play is it sells out the customer.'' 

May 30, 2022 07:53 PM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

This is an excellent post with great information. Thanks for sharing it.

Have a super fantastic week!
Joe Jackson, Realtor-KWCP

Jun 27, 2022 09:04 AM