Signing Off Loan Conditions

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what is a underwriter final "sign off" on the conditions
First off, it needs to be mentioned that a good loan officer gathers information and puts a full package, with all of the information an underwriter should need, before submitting the package to the underwriter. That's how you get loans through quick and clean. Give the underwriters all of the information you know they're going to need right up front.

Some clients (and a large proportion of loan officers) don't understand this. They want to hang back and see if the basic loan will be approved before they do "all of this work." This is a good way to have to work much harder on the loan. Give it all to them in one shot, and they only look at your file once. You get a nice clean approval. The issue is that every time that underwriter looks at your file, there is a chance they will find something else that they want documented, some little piece of the picture they are uncomfortable with. The underwriter can always add more conditions. The cleaner the package, however, the less likely it is that they will.

When I first wrote this, there were some matters it was okay and routine to bring in later. No longer. Packages not submitted complete get put on hold - lenders won't give conditional approvals to incomplete files any longer. You used to be able to submit without appraisal or title report if they weren't ready yet when you were otherwise ready to submit. It can delay a file while the appraiser contracted under HVCC takes their own sweet time, but lenders will no longer consider incomplete files.

Even if the file is complete, it's important to make sure it's really complete. If the underwriter asks for another set of paystubs, the underwriter will look at the file again once they get them, and if the income they document is even one penny less than the initial survey of the file, they will underwrite the whole thing again. A good loan officer submits complete packages, so the file only gets looked at once.

But every loan officer gets asked for additional conditions from time to time. With the best will in the world, sometimes they are going to miss something that the underwriter is going to want to see in this particular instance. Again, since first I wrote this, underwriters have gotten a lot pickier. I don't think I've even heard of a loan approved without unforeseeable demands from an underwriter in the last couple years. The principle stands: Give them everything you know they are going to want right up front.

Loan conditions fall into two categories: "Prior to documents" and "prior to funding". "Prior to docs" conditions are related to "Do you qualify for the loan?" type stuff. Income documentation, property taxes, existing insurance for refinances, verification of mortgage, rents, employment, deposits, all of that good sort of stuff. Also appraisal, title commitment, etcetera. If there's something missing in the loan package, or a real question about borrower qualification, it should be a "prior to docs" condition. These conditions should be taken care of between the loan officer and the underwriter. The underwriter tells the loan officer what needs to be produced in order to approve the loan, and the loan officer goes and gets it. If the loan officer can't produce it, there is no loan.

This is not to say that a good loan officer can't necessarily think of another way to get the loan approved. Indeed, that's a significant part of being a good loan officer, almost as big as knowing what loans won't be approved, and not submitting a loan that won't be approved. This last is a big game with many loan providers, by the way. They get you to sign up with quotes they know you won't qualify for, but when the loan is turned down (or, more commonly, the conditional commitment asks for something that the situation can't qualify for), they then tell you about the loan they should have told you about in the first place. Pretty sneaky, huh?

Getting back to the underwriter's conditions, a good loan officer knows how to work with alternatives. But at the bottom line, the loan officer has to come up with something that the underwriter will approve. It is the underwriter who has final authority. They write the loan commitment, which is the only thing that commits the money. In fact, most loan commitments are conditional upon additional requirements. The only universal to getting these conditions signed off is that the underwriter has to agree they have been met. As the underwriter agrees that the conditions have been met, one by one, the loan gets closer to final approval.

When the last prior to docs condition is satisfied, the loan officer orders loan documents. It used to be that this was also when many of the less ethical of them actually lock the loan quote in with the lender. Due to changes in the lending environment, it is now very costly to loan officers and future clients to lock a loan before they know it will close. An ironclad rule is that if it isn't locked with the lender, it's not real, but lenders are now charging so much for failing to deliver locked loans that there isn't a realistic alternative - one borrower changing their mind can effectively eliminate a broker's ability to use a particular lender.

When the loan documents arrive, the borrowers sign them with a notary and that's when the rescission clock begins. There is no federal right of rescission on investment property, and none on purchases, but on owner occupied refinancing, there is (Some states may expand on the federal minimums).

At this point we still have "prior to funding" conditions to deal with. "Prior to funding" should be reserved almost exclusively for procedural matters, and should be taken care of primarily between the escrow officer and loan funder. There are always going to be procedural conditions prior to funding, but many lenders are now moving more and more conditions to "prior to funding" as opposed to "prior to docs". Why? Because once you sign documents, you're more heavily committed. Psychologically, once most people sign loan documents they think they're all done. This is not, in fact, the case. Legally, once the right of rescission, if any, expires, you are locked in with that lender unless/until they decide your loan cannot be funded, but they are not required to fund the loan. Once rescission expires, you no longer have the ability to call the whole thing off. You are stuck.

This is not to say that an occasional condition can't be moved to "prior to funding" where it makes sense. Subordinations are probably the prime example. I've saved my clients a lot of money on Rate lock extensions by getting subordination conditions moved to prior to funding so the rescission clock will expire in a timely fashion to fund the loan within the lock period. This is less common now, as lenders want all the ducks in a row before they generate documents, but it never hurts to ask politely.

This is all well and good if the lender told you about everything and actually deliver the loan they said they would, without snags. On the other hand, I have stories. One guy I used to work with had the capper, and the reason he got into the business was he was certain he could do better. He signed documents on a purchase, and a week later - all the while he's expecting to be called with congratulations on a successful purchase any second - they called and told him he had to come up with $10,000 additional money within twenty-four hours, or lose the loan, the property, and the deposit, and be liable for all of the fees. His father had to overnight him cash, which he then took into the bank for a cashier's check.

He is only the most extreme example. The loan is not done until the documents are recorded with the county. Until that happens, the money does not have to come, and even if it does, the lender can pull it back. One procedural thing that happens with literally every loan is a last minute credit check and last minute call to the employer to be certain you still work there. If the borrower has been fired, quit, or has retired, no loan. If the borrower's credit score dropped below underwriting standards, no loan. If the borrower has taken out more credit, the lender will then send the file back to the underwriter to see if they still qualify for the loan with the increased payments. So like I tell folks, until those documents are recorded, don't change anything about your life.

The many less than ethical loan officers don't help matters any. I was selling a property a while back, and the buyer signed documents on Tuesday. If I had been doing the loan, the loan would have funded and the documents recorded the next day. Unfortunately, I wasn't doing the loan. This guy's loan officer had quoted him a loan he couldn't qualify for, and ten days after he signed documents, I got a call saying he could only qualify if I knocked $20,000 off the purchase price. I kept the deposit and went looking for another buyer. This guy learned an expensive lesson. When you sign loan documents, require your loan officer to produce a copy of all outstanding loan conditions. Don't sign until and unless you get it. This guy had signed, and was now locked in with a lender who couldn't fund the loan on conditions he could meet. I had even warned his agent about the problems I saw in the situation (I accepted the offer because I was willing to sell at that price, so I wanted the transaction to go through), but hadn't been believed. So both of us ended up unhappy.

If they give you a copy of all outstanding loan conditions, you should know if you can meet them. If you can't meet them or aren't certain, don't sign. Don't hesitate to ask for explanations. Some of this stuff gets pretty technical, but a good explanation should be easily understandable in plain English. It may be complicated, but there just isn't anything that can't be explained in plain English. If the explanation you get is gobbledygook, you've probably been lied to all along.

Caveat Emptor

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1 Comments

robert said:

the origonal contitions where for me to provide verifacation of fund to hus for earnest paymnt "500". i sent the the bank statments and tax returns to show where i got the money and when i widthdrew it from my account "900" the loan processor came back with "where did i spend the aditional 400". can they ask me where i spent my money on loan condition?

DM: YES. They can ask anything they want. You are asking them for a loan. They don't HAVE to give it to you. You have to decide if providing that is worth not applying for another loan

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dan Melson published on January 22, 2021 7:00 AM.

Stupid Negotiating Tricks: Appeal to Pity (or Falling for Appeal to Pity) was the previous entry in this blog.

The Lure and the Trap of Debt Consolidation - Payment Versus Cost of Interest is the next entry in this blog.

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