Home of Your Own - Town & Style

To view the article featured in Town & Style, click here.

Buying a home, especially for the first time, is an overwhelming process, with plenty of opportunity for error and setbacks. But when it comes to mortgages, St. Louis home buyers have an ally in F&B Financial Group, an independent, full-service mortgage banker. “Oftentimes, our company comes in at the last minute to save the day,” says president Chris Fox.

F&B Financial Group, founded in 2006 by Fox and managing director Matt Balcer, is the parent company of Realty Mortgage Group, which provides home-buying counsel and financing to clients in St. Louis.

Unlike other mortgage companies, which advertise to the general public, F&B operates solely on referrals from financial advisers and real estate agents and is a preferred lending institution for several prominent local real estate agencies. “We are literally 100-percent referral-based. We advertise through the relationships we’ve developed with financial advisers and real estate agents. One of our primary goals is to enhance the business of these entities, because they each need a trusted lending partner.”

This collaboration ensures that the home buyer receives excellent service, says Fox, because the stakes are high for both F&B and the referring partner. It is vital that the relationship between the two entities is founded on trust. “We’re essentially an extension of that agent’s business,” he says. “When an agent recommends a lending specialist, the agent knows we will take very good care of the client. And we had better, if we hope to receive more referrals. We also better be good, or else the agent is risking future business with that client.”

Home buyers should always do business with a mortgage banker recommended by a trusted source, says Fox, who has seen many deals fall through at the last minute. “Sometimes, a buyer uses somebody they find online or have seen on billboards, and then the deal falls apart 10 days prior to closing,” he explains. “We’re often called upon at the 11th hour when other lenders have failed, which reaffirms the notion that
it’s better to start with a referral.”

Solely through cultivating its network of referrals, F&B has doubled its revenue every year since its 2006 opening, Fox says. This spring, the company was named the fourth-fastest-growing private company in St. Louis by the St. Louis Business Journal. “We are working with more financial advisers and real estate agents every day,” Fox says. “We’re a smaller company, so I do think our customers and referral partners like the idea of a boutique. It’s more of a hands-on approach. This is a big investment for people, so it’s attractive that we can be more responsive.”