In my career in mortgage one of my favorite things to see is a loan close quickly and smoothly for our customers. Everyone is happy, customers are in their new home, customers are likely to send referrals, Realtor and LO get paid faster, the commraderie made between the sales, realtor and processing teams is enhanced and everyone wins. It’s the best for everyone, so the questions becomes why can’t all files be this way? Why do we not have smooth transactions every time? What can we do to foster this smooth, quality closing every time for all parties involved? Once upon a time, I was in Operations for approximately half of my career, I use to think some sales people had lost their minds (a lot of the time) but when I joined the Sales side of the world I learned that they weren’t as crazy as I originally thought, they just didn’t understand the Operations side of the fence and thought we could read their minds so, I have some answers and some suggestions to help everyone all around close quality loans more quickly.
1) Be present when taking an application, listen and communicate with all parties involved and discuss any potential pitfalls you foresee and always be upfront.
This sounds like a “no-brainer” but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen LOs (or Realtors even) fudge the truth or avoid voicing potential challenges with the hope that no one will see them or that they won’t arise. It is better to know all the challenges in the beginning and make everyone aware so as to better avoid them down the line. Listening during a conversation can give you clues that may help you “fix” any potential issues that arise as well… Mr. and Mrs. Smith are buying a home but don’t show very much reserves but during your conversation you remember Mrs. Smith mentioning something about “her” bank account… as we all know, you don’t have to disclose all accounts when you don’t need them but knowing one is there if you need it for reserves or down-payment is a critical item to not miss. Everyone being on the same page with communication routines and process is critical as well… as an example: “we will update you every 3rd day with where we are at, even if there are no changes” and sticking to this, will give everyone peace of mind and eliminate the chaos of constant phone calls, texts or emails asking for status.
2) As a LO, it is your duty and your job to pre-underwrite your files (or have an assistant or someone who can on your team).
We hopefully all know in this day and age that it is imperative that we are taking a complete application. But that does not just mean filling out the whole 1003 and checking all the boxes of the required upfront documents. You need to vet the information and don’t just throw everything handed to you into the file without proper review and scrutiny. When putting together your file be sure to ask your customers in the beginning for ANYTHING you know the Processor or Underwriter will ask for, Letters Of Explanation, Large deposit explanations with documentation, etc. It makes your life easier, it makes the processor and UWs life easier and it eliminates the “ping-pong effect” of sending something to Underwriting only to have it kicked back for minimal requests. That eats into your time and frustrates everyone involved.
3) Tell your story of the file!
Those LOs who told the story of their file and lead the Underwriter down the path they wanted to show them had their loans close faster and with less headaches than anyone else. When you tell Operations why you are packaging a loan a certain way and how you determined this was the best way to go, it helps all parties and doesn’t leave anything to chance. This is especially important on tight deals or complicated financial deals. It obviously needs to make sense to all parties but if you explain your thoughts on why it should work, operations should listen and if they can’t make it work on their end they would be more likely to talk it through with you to make sense of it between both your stories. It’s a “Help you, Help me” moment.
4) Set expectations and be responsive!
This means to everyone involved… processing requests, underwriting requests of course but also your customer and your realtors. Setting expectations with a borrower may seem scary but if you do it upfront and with the understanding that you need them to help you so you can close their loan and get them in their home faster, it makes it all about them and much easier to swallow that you need them to quickly respond when you ask for something. Set expectations with Realtors, if your borrower isn’t being responsive you’re going to need to employ the Realtor’s help… trust me when I tell you all the Realtors I know are willing to step in and get a customer to respond when a closing is on the line (it’s their paycheck too)!
5) Lastly, always check your emails (or have someone who does for you)!
You don’t want to miss an important update or request because you were not reading emails. Not everyone will pick up a phone and call or text you when they need something, stay on top of your emails. If you’re out in the field and can’t respond to emails, set an Out of Office to let people know how to contact you if it’s urgent. Set specific times during the day when you’ll review all emails sent to you (this is part of timeblocking, I know it can be hard). This will allow you to do everything you need to do without being tied to your emails every moment waiting on a possible email.
Honestly, I know a lot of Loan Officers know these things but there are not many that live by these items and what that does is clog up your processing and underwriting and cause delays for those people doing it right 100% of the time. Don’t be one of those people who ruin the well oiled machine of operations at your company! We are all in the business of closing loans, all of our livelihoods depend on it… processing and operations too, I honestly don’t know any processor or underwriter at ANY company that LOOKS for ways to shoot down deals. Let’s work together to close more quality deals faster (even with TRID)!
Thank you for taking the time to read this and if you want to see the difference doing these steps makes at a company ALREADY living by this please reach out to Victor Guerrero (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself to ask us how things run at Mason-McDuffie Mortgage Corporation and why on average we close loans in 21 days!
Branch Manager – Newport Beach