A Cautionary Tale

The following is an account of a loan horror story recounted by a Charlottesville lender.

First, a solution:
What Realtors can do to avoid a similar scenario: Work with lenders who have successfully closed at least five loans in the past twelve months of the type they are proposing. Work with lenders who have a reputation for ethical conduct. Choose your lenders based on factors other than glad-handing, happy talk or willingness to buy you lunch.

Take note of last-minute loan blowups and share that information with your business associates and clients. (I know many Realtors already do this when their client is proposing use of an on-line lender about whom the Realtor has already heard horror stories.) There are plenty of good lenders who would be happy to competently handle your deal, and there’s no reason for lenders who blatantly abuse their industry partners and clients to be making money.

What Buyers can do: ask lenders for names of satisfied clients who did the type of loan they are considering. This is perfectly reasonable. Don’t buyers and sellers ask Realtors for testimonials from happy clients? (ed. note: one of my more favorite questions of late is, “tell me about one of your dissatisfied clients, and why they were so dissatisfied”)

We’ve never seen a lender hauled before a panel of their peers on ethics charges (as happens in the Realtor community) though there’s certainly been ample cause. That’s unfortunate, but forewarned is forearmed.
Now, the tale:

Buyer (happens to be first-time but that doesn’t matter) and Seller enter into a contract, after two Realtors spend the usual hours marketing, showing, driving, negotiating and doing paperwork …

Buyer is going to do an FHA loan. They’re so popular now, for good reason. Buyer is hooked up with a lender. Don’t know how they connected, whatever, but if it was his Realtor who referred him to the lender we hope she’s learned a lesson.

The lender is not FHA approved. He’s pretty sure he will be, soon, so he originates the loan. Home inspection, appraisal done and paid for. Commitment letter issued (hearsay, I didn’t see it). Two weeks prior to closing the lender apparently gets worried that this FHA approval isn’t going to come through. It likely never will.

He contacts at least two local FHA lenders and attempts to refer the deal to them. One of them turns it down flat and the other takes the application, runs it through his underwriting system and can’t get an approval.

The lender doesn’t notify the borrower or Realtors at this or any point. Now we get into hearsay, in italics.

Two days prior to closing the lender told the borrower that they didn’t qualify for FHA (they didn’t, but the lender didn’t even have the option. If they’d been an experienced FHA lender they’d have know he didn’t qualify). The rate went from about 6% to 7.75 or higher. Closing costs/payment also went way up.

This is the problem with hearsay but you get the idea. The lender had flipped the loan to FNMA/conventional, got what’s called an expanded approval, which has high rates and high PMI. The payment was at least $200 higher and this was an “affordable” home.

On closing day the listing agent went to the closing table with the sellers expecting to sign. They were at the table when they found out the buyer’s loan wasn’t going to close.

At that point one more FHA-experienced lender was called in and ran the loan through his underwriting system- it wasn’t approved.

The listing agent is out all her marketing time and expense. The seller has lost valuable marketing time and now has a stale listing if they didn’t before. The buyer’s agent is out all the hours spent driving around a client who didn’t qualify, negotiating, doing paperwork etc. The potential buyer is out appraisal fee, cost of home inspection, maybe more, and has given up the lease on his rental unit so doesn’t have a place to live.

Oh, also, the lender didn’t get paid his commission. He put all these people’s time and money on the line in the slim hope that he might get paid. They all got screwed by this industry partner. (Sorry for the salty language.)

This is an easy problem to avoid. There are a lot of lenders out there now who don’t have what it takes to manage the current market. They might not be able to do the loan and not even know it. They might be able to but not know how. I hate to see you guys lose time and money. We are all in the same boat. There are a lot of good lenders who can get deals closed in this lending environment and will tell you if it’s not going to work.

I hope you can make this into a cautionary tale to help your readers- buyers, sellers and Realtors. Let me know if you have questions or need a referral to the other lenders or Realtors involved. I’m not sure they’d talk but I’d hope they would, to help someone else avoid a similar problem.

This story originally appeared on RealCentralVA.com and appears here by request.

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3 Responses to A Cautionary Tale

  1. Jim Rake says:

    Unfortuntely, despite our best attempts at educating our clients, and encouraging them to do their due diligence, they often think they know best, and, after all, it is their choice.
    We can go a long way in doing our “prep” work when we first sit down and discuss expectations of each of us, and in doing so, perhaps informing them of the importance of the lender, as we mention, “and, by the way, here are some local lenders that are as professional and competitive as you’ll find…you might want to give them a call.”
    Hopefully, they’ll listen.

  2. Tony Arko says:

    These occurences will continue to happen as long as the only thing lost is time and a little money. And the frequency of these stories will not change until licenses are at risk and livelihoods are put in jeopardy. If that loan broker/salesman lost his license to practice for 1 year, he might have thought twice about what he did. Same thing goes for agents. It is almost impossible to lose your license for incompetance or indifference.

  3. Jim, you’re right on here, but I am going to go step further and give clients a copy of articles like this that gives them someone else’s opinion on the matter. Unfortunately if an agent makes these recommendations they consider that the agent has some incentive other than good business.

    Tony – Hang ’em at high-noon! Brother, sometimes I think you’re just one six pack away from storming a pre-licensing class and forcing IQ tests on anyone who thinks they want to get into the business. This is why I think we should hold the Broker more responsible… If the Broker’s license was more at risk for the actions of the agent; than I think they would pay more attention to how diligent the agent was and not how much money they brought in the door.

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