What Are the Characteristics of a Good Underwriter?

Written By: Frankie Lacy

I am often asked this question by processors or other mortgage professionals that are looking to transition into underwriting. Underwriting can seem mysterious and out of reach to some as they try to understand the duties and responsibilities associated with the title. We all know that underwriters are required to develop in-depth product and program guideline knowledge, but what other personality characteristics are the markers for an underwriter in the making?

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The first trait of a strong underwriter is curiosity. Underwriters must be willing to ask questions, research answers, and seek counsel from their counterparts. When the loan documentation contains gaps in information, the underwriter is the party responsible for obtaining the information that will close the gap.

An underwriter must have an open mind and be willing to learn new things at all times. Employers expect underwriters to be knowledgeable about a wide range of loan products, state specific guidelines, and property type considerations. As a result, flexibility and adaptability to change are the attitudes necessary to succeed in today’s lending environment.

The demand for clear and complete written and verbal communication is very high. Underwriters work with loan officers, processors, closers, managers, and third party vendors to complete the loan process. Emails that are composed by underwriters are often forwarded to realtors and other parties as official decision documentation. Underwriters are held to their word and their loan decisions. Consequently, miscommunications or details left unstated can backfire and result in closing delays or customer dissatisfaction. For this reason, written and verbal communication skill development is invaluable for prospective underwriters.

Underwriters must remain cool under intense pressure. We are required to make important decisions and perform detailed reviews, but we do not work in a vacuum. There are constant interruptions and demands on our time, yet the work still has to be completed. Underwriters must develop stress management habits and the ability to respond to inquiries without letting frustrations show.

Finally, an underwriter must be an extremely detail oriented person. To perform the job competently, each document must be reviewed in detail. Underwriting guidelines are read in detail and loan conditions on the file must be specific enough to ensure each guideline is met. The underwriter must identify red flags and correct errors within loan documentation. The prospective underwriter must be willing to sign their name and take responsibility for the thoroughness of the review.

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These are just a few of the characteristics that define a successful underwriter. You will also bring your special talents to the job and express your individuality through your underwriting style. No two underwriters are the same and each person approaches the art a little differently. The traits listed above are just a few that can help you stand out as an underwriter of extraordinary aptitude and skill.

About The Author

Frankie Lacy - As an active NAMP® member and a NAMU®-CMMU designee, Ms. Frankie Lacy is a 13-year mortgage industry veteran with extensive conventional mortgage underwriting experience. Frankie is also a mortgage instructor for Mortgage Underwriter University (www.MortgageUnderwriter.org). Topics of Frankie's expertise include: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, USDA Rural Housing, underwriting to investor overlays, self-employed borrowers, personal and business tax return analysis, rental income, condos/co-ops/PUDs, and more. Frankie is a Davenport University graduate with a degree in Business Administration. If you're interested in becoming a writer for NAMP®, please email us at: contact@mortgageprocessor.org.


Opinion-Editorial (Op-Ed) Disclaimer For NAMU® Library Articles: The views and opinions expressed in the NAMU® Library articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect any official NAMU® policy or position. Examples of analysis performed within this article are only examples. They should not be utilized in real-world application as they are based only on very limited and dated open source information. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of NAMU®. Nothing contained in this articles should be considered legal advice.