HARP 2.0 refinance program, FHA Streamline refinance
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Succeeding in Today’s Lending Environment

Since the implementation of Dodd-Frank back in 2010, lenders have had to deal with a lot more compliance when making a mortgage loan. And the real frustration in all this is with home buyers. They don’t understand, and they don’t like the compliance hoops.

Now, 4 year into the new normal, some lenders are getting it, while others are still struggling.Young couple moving in new house

And by ‘getting it’, I mean that some lenders have succeeded in putting systems in place to comply with government mandates, and have raised their heads above the fray to once again focus on what is really important: The Customer Experience.

While some companies still stand behind the “We have to be compliant with government mandates“, what the customer hears is “We care more about not being slapped by the government than we do about you“.

I am not belittling the real impositions of staying compliant (translation: staying in business by not being fined out of existence by the government oversight group, the CFPB). That is very real for lenders. I just completed my 8 hours of annual continuing education that is now mandated. I get it. Nearly all the material in the 8 hours is memorizing and distinguishing between various government laws and regulations. They want to make sure we know every nuance of a whole bunch of otherwise meaningless acronyms and sub-paragraphs: ECOA, Reg Z, RESPA, TILA, HMDA, FCRA, Gramm-Leach-Bliley…and several others that just don’t quite come to mind.

What is not covered except in brushing by the topic: How to actually better serve you, the home buyer who is taking out a mortgage with us.

No, that each lending company has to figure out on our own.

Some have done so, and really figured it out. The few.

Others have managed to strike a semblance of balance, with the emphasis should there be a leaning, on keeping the government happy. While there are others who simply have not raised their heads out of the government compliance jungle to recognize that there is a consumer at the other end who is looking for a decent experience.

So when you start your mortgage shopping process, you want to look for the traditional goal, good rates and fees. But you also want to add the new component of mortgage comparison: Does this lender have their focus back on me, the consumer; or are they still trying to figure out how to keep the government happy?

The rate is important, as you will be paying that mortgage for years, and you do not want to over-pay. The company focus is equally important, as you want to competently arrive at the closing table…without the added new ulcer that you may get without that.

For the record, our policy is to make sure we deliver on three things that we find are normally most important to the home buyer:

  1. Close one time: because we know there is nothing worse than having movers, utilities and days off that you then have to scramble to change around.
  2. Communication:  Wondering where you are in the loan process and whether you will close on time or not is, at best, nerve-wracking, and at worst, just plain wrong.
  3. Closing Cost Guarantee: The bait-and-switch tactics should have no place in lending. And while they are largely a thing of the past, since ‘those’ guys got out of the industry for the most part; sometimes mistakes are made on the original estimates. You should look for a lender who, if a mistake is made and costs increase from the original estimate, will stand by their word and honor that and cover the difference themselves.

And, here, that is what we do. We close on time, with no surprises and with regular communication during the loan process. That is the least we can do for you, our customer.


The Fed and Mortgage Rates

Mortgage interest rates hit their highest point in two years this week. And that has a lot of people wondering what higher rates would do to the rebounding housing market. ‘If rates increase too much, will that taper demand and cause housing to lead us into another recession?’ goes the thinking. And rates are rising becauseContinue Reading

How Much Home Can I Afford?

Certainly one of the most common questions that I get. And the answer can be found from one of two directions. (Hint: I prefer you take the second option). Maxing Your Debt to Income (DTI) Ratio This is the first approach that banks will take. And it looks something like this – adding up allContinue Reading

Mortgage Insurance Options

I hear it all the time, “I don’t want a loan with PMI” (i.e. Private Mortgage Insurance). And you shouldn’t. Or, should you? First a definition. PMI is an insurance policy which insures the lender on a high loan to value mortgage in case of borrower default. And in normal-speak, that means that a lenderContinue Reading

Rate Rise to Highest Point in Nearly 5 Years

UPDATE 7/1: After hitting highs of nearly 5% in some cases, rates have settled back and we have seen slight improvements in rate each day over the past week. That trend is continuing today.   Well, Fed Chairman Bernanke started the lowest period of mortgage rates in history when announcing the purchase of Mortgage BackedContinue Reading

A Smooth Purchase Loan for Your New Home

I meet home buyers all the time who are nervous about the buying process. Especially about getting a mortgage approved and closed on time. And while I have heard some very unfortunate stories of delayed closings, moving trucks ready with nowhere to go, and even last minute denials; that does not have to be theContinue Reading

Time to Refinance Out of Your A.R.M. Loan

Some homeowners have already gotten out of their Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARM). Others have seen how low they have gone, and have stayed in the ARM, enjoying super low rates. I suspect that time is about to end soon. First, the reason. We heard Fed Chairman Bernanke say a couple weeks ago that there willContinue Reading

Your Home is Not an Investment

A question I am asked quite often is “Should I view my home as an investment?” And my simple answer is: No. But I am getting ahead of myself. We are told by many that the home mortgage is the largest indebtedness that most of us will take on in our lives. So it feelsContinue Reading

How Much House Can You Afford?

An important question for every home buyer to answer for themselves, this question of ‘how much house can I afford‘ has come to the forefront since the housing bubble burst and news reports everywhere have focused on those stretching to buy too much house. I saw a lot of that stretching back then. Now, ifContinue Reading

The Case to Buy a Home Now

I have spoken several times on the blog about how home affordability is at an all time high, making now the right time to buy a home. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s look at this in terms of what some remember, and all the rest of us have heard about, whichContinue Reading