Q: I’m 39 and about to buy my first condo, which is now being built.

A good friend who’s a top loan officer with one of the larger mortgage companies in town says he can help me get a loan. My question is, would I get all the same loan options from him as I would from the lender my developer is working with? What’s the difference between these lenders?

A: I can’t tell you which lender will have the better deal because the mortgage market is extremely local. But it’s competitive, so you should shop around to see who’s offering what.

Be aware that while your friend works for a well-known company, he may or may not be able to get you the best deal. If you’re buying new construction, the developer will often put together special long-term financing, and depending on how long you have to wait until closing, this might be a better way to go.

Why? The biggest problem with new construction is that the property is often not ready when you expect, so you can easily blow through your rate lock with a mortgage lender.

As always, call at least three or four different lenders to find out what’s being offered in your area. You may also want to log onto www.bankrate.com for a larger snapshot of mortgage rates in your neck of the woods.