Mortgage lender shell game

mortgage lender
How to choose a mortgage lender (infographic from

Realtors and other real estate professionals eagerly look forward to the annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.  The Profile, published by the National Association of Realtors, provides insight into the preferences and decisions of home buyers and sellers. After thirty-five years of publication, the Profile has become somewhat of an important contribution to housing trends and economics.  But did you know that the mortgage lender and the mortgage industry has a survey of their own?

The National Mortgage Database (NMDB) is a multiyear project conducted by the Federal Housing Finance Agency ( and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (  The NMDB project incorporates two consumer surveys, the National Survey of Mortgage Originations and the American Survey of Mortgage Borrowers.  The NMDB is meant to provide statutory guidance and lending policy direction.  The database has yielded interesting data about how and why borrowers choose their mortgage lender, as well as their experiences and interactions during the mortgage process.

The NMDB has produced a colossal amount of data across many aspects of the consumer-mortgage lender relationship.  The preliminary analysis indicated that consumers don’t really shop for a lender.  Many home buyers use the mortgage lender recommended by their agents and others.  Most notable is that about half of the home buyers surveyed only considered one mortgage lender.  Not a surprise is that the small percentage of home buyers who apply to more than one lender are typically motivated by better terms (such as interest rate).

The mortgage lender is an important aspect of the home buying process.  Unfortunately, the NMDB suggests that home buyers are not doing their homework, and possibly choosing their mortgage lenders for the wrong reasons.  The mortgage process is an intricate dance between the buyer, the loan officer/processor and the underwriter.  The mortgage lender can either provide a smooth and “stress free” closing, or a bumpy process that can cause anxiety and delays.

When you’re buying a home, “time is of the essence” (it states that on the first paragraph of your contract).  Choosing the wrong lender can cause delays and potentially cost you money.  Issues can occur with any mortgage lender at any time during the mortgage process.  Problems can sometimes stem from the inexperience of the loan officer/processor, who does a poor job communicating what is needed from you.  More often, issues arise during the underwriting process because of a slow turnaround time.

Believe it or not, many mortgage lenders have their loan officers, processors, and underwriters separated in different offices.  Sometimes the different offices are located in different cities, which can add time to the process.  Sometimes. lenders have their processing and underwriting all in the same office, which helps facilitate communication and a loan approval.

As a home buyer, RESPA gives you the right to choose your mortgage lender.  The process of choosing the best lender for you should not be much different than choosing your Realtor.  Ask your agent and others whom you respect for referrals.  Do your homework and consider at least three of the referrals, if not more.

In addition to comparing interest rates, compare the lender fees.  Lender fees can vary and can add unnecessary cost to your closing.  Since you will be communicating with the loan officer and processor a great deal through the home buying process, talk to them to get a feel for how they interact with you.  Besides to asking about their company, ask the loan officer about their background and experience.  Find out how their underwriter operates and ask about the underwriting turnaround time.  And make sure the lender is licensed.  You can check a lender’s licensing by checking with the consumer portal of the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System  (also known also known as the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System or the NMLS).

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Copyright© Dan Krell

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Your credit report reveals more than you might know

by Dan Krell © 2013

Why is your credit report important?

Bethesda real estateInformation contained therein could determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage, and possibly the interest rate you are offered. Typically, lenders use credit reports to determine how you generally manage your debts and financial obligations. Besides being used by mortgage lenders; some banks may review your credit report when you apply for a checking account, and even some insurance companies may use your credit report for underwriting purposes.

Your credit report may say more about you than you might know. The report is considered to be a “snapshot” of your financial management ability. The major credit bureaus, Equifax (, Experian (, and Trans Union (, act as information repositories for collected information, and make it available to those who need it. The credit bureaus are informed of your activities by your creditors as well as collecting information from public records; the collected information may include details about your identity, existing credit, public records, and recent inquiries.

Identity information may list your name and aliases, address, Social Security number, date of birth, and possibly employment information. Existing credit information lists accounts that are granted to you, and may include: credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and car loan accounts, payment history, and current balance. Public records may reveal liens, judgments, bankruptcies, and open collections.

Anyone with a legitimate need for your credit report can obtain it. Besides banks, lenders, and those who extend credit, others who may be able to view your credit report include (but not limited to) employers, landlords, and child support enforcement. These inquires are listed in the report.

Your credit score is also included in your credit report. Because each of the three credit bureaus use their own algorithms to determine your score based on the bureaus’ information, the three scores may vary somewhat. Many credit decisions are initially determined on credit scores, so it’s important to ensure that the reports are accurate so as to reflect in your credit scores.

Factors that may negatively impact your credit scores include (but not limited to): late payments, accounts referred to collection, and/or reported bankruptcy; having high account balances relative to credit limits; applying for many accounts in a short period of time; and having an excessive number of credit accounts.

With such importance placed on credit reports, it’s important to ensure your reports contain accurate information about you and your credit history. Unfortunately, inaccurate data may find its way into your report through poor reporting, misidentification, and even non-reporting of (positive) information. Additionally, identity theft has been a law enforcement issue for years; and is increasingly considered a major public threat.

You can dispute erroneous data with the reporting company, and/or the credit bureau. If you dispute to the credit bureau, the bureau will undergo an investigation. To assist the investigation, the bureau may require your identifying information, an explanation why the reported information is incorrect, and supporting documentation (such as receipts, police reports, and/or fraud affidavits).

Your credit report is considered to be a “snapshot” of your life and your ability to manage credit. Financial experts recommend that you request your report from each bureau annually to ensure the information is accurate. For more information on credit reports and scores, refer to the Federal Reserve (, the FTC (, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of April 22, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Home sellers may encouter surprises

by Dan Krell © 2012

money to close on homeSo you’re planning to list your home in the spring, or maybe your home is already listed for sale…

In an effort to avoid surprises, you consult with your real estate agent and ask many questions. Your agent, also looking forward to a transaction without incident, tries to prepare you for the ups and downs of home selling. No matter how much preparation you and your agent do for the sale, there still can be surprises; here are the three often encountered surprises:

The home buyer failed to qualify for their mortgage:

Real estate agents often do not discuss the truth about lender pre-approval letters (lender pre-approval letters are not all the same). When you receive an offer on your home, there is usually a “pre-approval” letter from a mortgage lender indicating that the buyer is qualified to obtain a mortgage to purchase your home.

Although the pre-approval process typically checks the buyer’s credit, the process sometimes varies when it comes to verifying the buyer’s income and assets. Although many loan officers exercise due diligence and collect income and asset documentation prior to issuing a pre-approval letter; some loan officers feel confident to issue a pre-approval letter solely on the basis of the buyer’s verbal accounting of their income and assets. Make sure your agent is in contact with the buyer’s loan officer; and ask if all the necessary documents have been reviewed before the pre-approval letter was issued.

Unanticipated withholding tax at closing:

Besides negotiating closing costs, your agent will explain that there are additional fees and costs that you should expect to pay at closing. A surprise often awaiting the unsuspecting home seller is a withholding tax; such as the Maryland non-resident seller withholding tax, the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act, and beginning in 2013- the unearned income tax outlined in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. Additional information can be obtained from the Comptroller of Maryland, and the Internal Revenue Service, and your tax preparer or CPA. Before listing your home for sale, consult your tax preparer or CPA to determine your tax liability for any additional real estate related withholding tax.

Your home does not appraise at contract price:

One of the outcomes of the financial crisis was the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). The HVCC was devised to establish increased accountability and independence in the appraisal industry. You might think that since placing additional regulation on the appraisal industry, appraisals should be more consistent. However, there has been much criticism about the inconsistency among appraisals and difficulty in understanding the standards and methodology used in determining a home’s value. The issue may partly stem from appraisal management companies that are sometimes used by lenders to comply with the HVCC, while the issue may also partly stem from lenders imposing specific underwriting guidelines on various loan products. In preparation, your agent should gather valid sales comparables that can be given to the appraiser as rationale for the contract price.

No one like surprises, so hopefully you’re prepared for the ups and downs of selling your home in today’s market. Although some real estate agents may pride themselves on how they handle surprises to put out the “fires;” the truly skilled agent can anticipate most situations to minimize the surprises that can occur during a real estate transaction.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of September 24, 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.