Sue Fox, @Properties. Direct 773.816.1788

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Closing a Chicago condo: A tale of two lenders

filed under: Buyers, FHA loans, First-time buyers, Lincoln Square posted on March 5th, 2010

LENDER BENDER: My sellers had to wait an extra two months to sell their 2-bedroom Lincoln Sqaure condo, because the buyers' original lender couldn't get the loan approved. They switched to Bank of America and were able to close within six weeks.

LENDER BENDER: My sellers had to wait an extra two months to sell their 2-bedroom Lincoln Square condo, because the buyers' original lender couldn't get the FHA loan approved. The buyers switched to Bank of America and were able to close within six weeks.

This week, my sellers finally closed on the sale of their Lincoln Square condo. I say finally because in this case, unfortunately, the couple who was buying the condo ran into some trouble getting an FHA loan. Everything seemed fine when they made an offer in October, but their first lender — A&N Mortgage — could not get the deal done.

We even gave the buyers an extra month to try to secure their loan. But despite what appeared to be solid jobs, good credit and hard work on the part of their loan officer, the loan was ultimately denied. The property fell out of contract and my sellers had to put it back on the market in January.

But wait! These buyers (and their realtor) did not give up. The realtor referred them to another lender — Bank of America, this time — and somehow the BofA mortgage sales manager Tammy Hajjar managed to get their FHA loan approved and closed six weeks later. Same buyers, same jobs, same down payment, same property … but a totally different outcome.

The difference in mortgage lenders, Hajjar said later, is twofold: how thoroughly the lender assembles the loan file (the front end of the process) and the access she/he has to an underwriter (the back end). “There is no room for a lack of detail these days,” she said.  “You need someone who is thorough enough on the front side to really submit a good application and financial statements.”

At the same time, large banks like Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo and Citibank have in-house underwriters who work for them, so their mortgage lenders can quickly get questions answered. A broker like A&N Mortgage, Hajjar explained, has to “go through an extra step” of submitting the loan to an outside underwriter. That adds another level of interpretation to the loan file — and another place the process could potentially go awry.

This particular condo deal was a stark example of why it’s so important to choose an experienced lender with a track record of getting deals closed. It’s not all about getting the best interest rate (although, of course, this helps!) But many lenders offer comparable rates, and at the end of the day the interest rate is irrelevant if you can’t close the deal.

A good lender will patiently explain loan products and fees to prospective buyers and identify any red flags they see up front. Securing a loan entails crossing many little hurdles along the way, from the appraisal to underwriting, and an experienced lender will be able to navigate his/her way through them. One of the best ways to find a good lender is actually to ask your realtor, because realtors work with lenders all the time and after a while, most of us develop a go-to list of a couple great lenders that we know can get that loan closed.

I regularly refer buyers to a few good lenders I have worked with for years without a hitch. (I get nothing in return for the referral, by the way — except the knowledge that the loan is going to close.) Buyers should make sure their lender knows the business and has a solid record of closing deals, because it could mean the difference between scrapping the deal or moving into your new home.

Written by Sue Fox //

  1. Andrea Askowitz

    Do people just put up a shingle and become lenders? Don’t they have to be a bank? Who decides on the loans? Yeah for the buyers for persisting.


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