Mortgage and Real Estate Red Flags

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This is going to be one of those occasional posts that gets expanded and reposted from time to time. This list is not exhaustive, although over time it is intended to become closer. If you have one, send it to me (dm at)

Any of these is sufficient reason, all by itself, not to do business with that company or person, to cancel your loan if in progress, or to go get another backup loan.


Any actual lie

Up front application fees, or sign up fees.

Up front lock fees.

Up front appraisal fees, as opposed to at the point of appraisal. (NOTE: With HVCC now in effect, this has changed. Consumers are no longer allowed to pay the appraiser directly, so the lender now needs to collect it until and unless HVCC is removed)

Any up front fee beyond credit report (or for now, appraisal).

Requiring the originals of your documents.

Trying to sell you a Negative amortization loan, under any of its names, without explaining in detail all of the gotchas

Not locking your rate, or letting it float (another thing that has changed now with changes in the business. Every loan we lock that doesn't close for any reason is now costing all of our clients that do close extra fees. I'm not happy about it, but I have to do business their way or leave the business)

On stated income or NINA loans, not giving a real idea of what the payment is going to be, and making sure you can afford it. (Stated income is almost non-existent now).

On full documentation or EZ documentation loans, needing to document more money than you make.

Requiring you to pay an "in house" appraiser (Who is receiving a salary)

Not allowing you to choose an appraiser if you want to. (Another change with HVCC - this is not allowed now)

Consistently using the same phrase in response to a question. "Nothing out of your pocket" ($30,000 added to your mortgage) and "Thirty Year Loan" (note the absence of the words "fixed rate") are two that are sufficiently pervasive as to merit special mention.

An answer to a question that is somehow similar, instead of to the question you asked. Especially if said obviously intended to distract and mollify you, or is a pat phrase you've heard them use before.

You check their calculations on a couple of calculators and the numbers are both consistent and different from what you were quoted as a payment. (Some web calculators lie, but they usually lie in slightly different ways, although note that an auto payment calculator uses different first payment assumptions).

(Yes, in recent months regulations have been put in place that make it extremely difficult for the more ethical providers)

Buying:

Use of non-standard forms when standard forms are available

Asking you to sign an Exclusive Buyer's Agent Agreement before they've shown any property.

Asking you to sign an Exclusive Buyer's Agent Agreement at all without furnishing you something special (i.e. daily foreclosures lists, or some service you would otherwise have to pay for).

Not finding out what your budget range is and sticking with it. For example, if you've got $30,000 for a down payment and closing costs, can qualify for a $270,000 loan, they shouldn't show you anything that you cannot get for $300,000 total, including all costs you need to pay.

Not finding out what you actually make, and what your current monthly obligations add up to. This lets me, as the real estate agent, know what I'm really dealing with here, even though I have no real need to know if I'm not doing the loan. In case you haven't gotten the idea, there are a lot of mortgage folks out there who may not have your best interest at heart, and "stated income" loans allow for a lot of sins. You can get offended at invasion of privacy if you want, but I'd be grateful - This is one part of the system checking another, looking out for you, when they could just grab their commission and bow out of the picture.

Promising to find houses below market value. I do my best, but so does every other agent out there. This is something nobody can guarantee, and most require taking risks or putting all cash into the transaction, and they're usually gone before the public even has a chance.

Telling you about "money in your pocket" when you ask about closing costs

Selling:

Use of non-standard forms where standard forms are available.

Excessive pressure to sign listing agreement immediately (Some pressure is normal and to be expected)

Not being upfront about their business model. I've got an article about business models in the real estate industry (there are 2 basic, and many variations). Each has situations they are best for, and situations they are not so great for. You want to know if it fits your situation.

Not explaining what properties in your area are selling for before they ask for the listing.

Promising to get more for the property than the market will support. If there is a competing property on the market cheaper, or a better property on the market for the same price, buyers will choose that one instead of yours.

Putting the property on the market before it's ready and available to show.

Not holding at least one open house on a weekend date within two weeks of listing. Sometimes this is tough during the holiday season, but there's no excuse for the rest of the year. Especially during the summer, if they want to take a three week vacation, there should be someone else there to take up the slack. Perhaps it might be unproductive if you live in a thinly inhabited area, but anywhere within the commuting area of a major city, this is a minimum.

Caveat Emptor

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» Pre-Qualification from Searchlight Crusade

One of the most useless and overworked items in the real estate industry today is the pre-qualification for a loan. Sellers want buyers to be "pre-qualified", and buyers are seeking "pre-qualification" to convince buyers they are serious. The level of... Read More

1 Comments

Simon Barber said:

Why is asking for original documents a red flag? (I've just been asked, and would like to know why they don't need them).



DM: Because it allows lenders to cut off your ability to shop your loan. Now someone else asks for copies of those documents, and you can't get them. There is no borrower document that lenders will not accept good, legible copies of.

Please be civil. Avoid profanity - I will delete the vast majority of it, usually by deleting the entire comment. To avoid comment spam, a comments account is required. They are freely available, and you can post comments immediately. Alternatively, you may use your Type Key registration, or sign up for one (They work at most Movable Type sites) All comments made are licensed to the site, but the fact that a comment has been allowed to remain should not be taken as an endorsement from me or the site. There is no point in attempting to foster discussion if only my own viewpoint is to be permitted. If you believe you see something damaging to you or some third party, I will most likely delete it upon request.
Logical failures (straw man, ad hominem, red herring, etcetera) will be pointed out - and I hope you'll point out any such errors I make as well. If there's something you don't understand, ask.
Nonetheless, the idea of comments should be constructive. Aim them at the issue, not the individual. Consider it a challenge to make your criticism constructive. Try to be respectful. Those who make a habit of trollish behavior will be banned.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 11, 2014 7:00 AM.

Issues with Multiple Mortgages was the previous entry in this blog.

"I'm Working With Someone Else, But Could You Just Help Me With..." is the next entry in this blog.

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