Written By: Gail Foster
Ten years of experience in the real estate industry and last week I went through four contract extensions, a six hour settlement waiting for HUD-1 approval and scrambling around getting documents signed the following day so that the loan wouldn’t be recalled, all for the same transaction! There has to be an easier way and in my opinion it starts with good communication between the loan officer and Realtor.
It’s no secret that we refer business to those that get the job done. Realtors are approached by loan officers from every company under the sun asking for business but it seems like every time we take a chance, we have a disaster on our hands. I’d like to share a few things that can help you get the business you are seeking from Realtors and make the Realtor happy they referred you the business.
Expect a call from the Realtor when a pre-approval or prequalification letter is presented. We understand you are unable to share private information but it is helpful to know exactly how the approval or qualification letter was generated. We want to know the following:
1. Was documentation collected to verify the information taken for the loan application i.e., paystubs and bank statements.
2. Has the borrower’s loan application been run through a desktop underwriting program? This helps us to understand the level of examination a particular loan application has received. There are many companies that generate “pre-approval” letters from a phone call. It is frivolous to get multiple parties involved in a contractual transaction based upon a phone call.
3. Is the borrower in need of closing help from the seller, if so how much? A transaction can fall apart at the closing table if the buyer is not able to address their closing costs. Additionally, there is a difference between need and want. I need to know what it takes to get the deal done, if additional help can be negotiated to buy down rates or other non-essentials then we will certainly go for it but I want the real numbers up front.
4. Who are the people involved in the transaction? I’d like to have names and contact numbers for the processor, office manager, branch and regional manager if possible. My job is to get my client to the closing table. I know that within a lending organization there are those that can waive conditions or expedite the process. It is not a reflection upon a loan officer if I make a call or send an email to try to help get things done. In fact, I have many wonderful business contacts in all levels of mortgage lending that are more than willing to help make things happen if a problem arises that just cant seem to be resolved. It may be easier for me to go to the branch manager about a problem than for the loan officer to do the same. We are both working for the same end result; treat me as a team member and not the enemy.
5. Is the buyer getting down payment assistance from a government agency? Many times, down payment assistance is not disclosed in a pre-approval or prequalification letter. This is important information that impacts the seller of a property. It should be disclosed at time of contract offer so that the seller can make an informed decision and buyer and seller can begin to build a relationship of trust and honest disclosure.
6. Tell us honestly what the time frames are for the various steps towards approval and if any problems crop up along the way. Much of the frustration in any transaction is expectations that are shattered by misinformation and maybe even outright deception. We have quite a few people that we keep informed of progress in a transaction, when everyone is clambering for info and no clear answers are being given, the transaction starts to fall apart. Buyers waffle, sellers refuse extensions, and everyone begins to panic. Phone calls increase and stress levels go off the charts. You must remember Realtors are on the frontline of an emotional experience and we need everyone on the team to help keep the stress levels low by helping us to manage expectations with realistic information about the process.
7. Answer and return phone calls. The first thing everyone thinks when they don’t get returned calls is that something is wrong. Even bad news can be managed more easily if approached immediately and honestly. If you must let a Realtor know you have certain hours that you can accept calls or those messages will be returned within a certain time frame and then do it. Send regular email updates to keep all parties informed of progress or delays. Communication is the key.
When I was a loan officer, we hated Realtors and now as a Realtor I can say that in many cases the feeling is mutual. But it seems that we should be on the same team, the team that makes things happen for our clients. To do that both Realtors and loan officers must respect what the other does and work together to create transactions that leave the clients happy and ready to refer!
About The Author
Gail Foster - As an active real estate industry professional for the past twelve years, Gail Foster is a proud licensed mortgage officer and a Realtor in the state of Maryland. If you would like to become a writer for NAMU®, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.