While many people will go to their bank to obtain a mortgage or line of credit, they often feel betrayed by their favourite bank if their application is rejected. One big advantage that we have over banks is that we can send underwriter notes along with the application. Our questions and detailed conversations with the borrower give us insight that the underwriter couldn’t get just by looking at what’s filled out on the application.
A while ago, I had an application at a lender for a young man who wanted to buy his first home.
He worked in the construction trades and his income history was up and down over the past 3 years. He needed overtime to support his application and the two-year average wasn’t sufficient.
I went back with 3 years of Notices of Assessments, his recent pay stubs and pleaded the case for my client. The underwriter finally asked for an exception based on my confidence in the client. She trusted my judgement and the mortgage was approved.
This leads me to the idea that underwriter notes are very important and can mean the difference between an approval and a decline. If you have a chance, ask your underwriter how they like their notes; in point form or in paragraphs. Do they prefer emails or phone calls?
When a successful mortgage broker writes notes they start by stating what product they are asking for and they include their contact information. I put my contact info at the top of the notes and at the bottom so they don’t have to go searching for it if they have a question or need clarification. I then state what my client is trying to do; purchase their first home, refinance, a renewal or if it’s’ a switch, that they want to benefit from lower interest rates.
I then list the areas I want to highlight: Income, credit, property, down payment and start with their weakest link first and explain their situation. I had a client who had her down payment in a joint account with her father in Japan. I started with that knowing that a paper trail would be important. If the credit score is low, is it due to a past illness, divorce or job loss? I tell the underwriter right away. As a result, underwriters trust me and have given my clients a second look or asked for an exception. Finally, I finish up by summarizing the strong points in the file and thanking them for their consideration of my file.
I never yell or give my underwriters a blast if they decline a file. I will, however, ask why the file was declined so that I can better prepare my client for the disappointment and plan on how we can remedy the situation. Just as an FYI, a manager at a major bank told me that at one bank he worked for after hitting the send key he received a simple message back – either APPROVED or DECLINED with no explanation. Now, who do you think mortgage clients should deal with? A bank or a broker?