Recently, I listed and sold a condo in New Orleans. Now, the entire condo buying and selling experience has changed from years past, with fewer lenders willing to step up and do the necessary work to get a complex approved by FHA. It used to be that by answering a few quick questions a lender could get what was called a “spot approval”. Those days are gone and while the rule changes may have been made for valid reasons (although I’m not quite sure what they are), they have served to make the entire process a little more cumbersome, especially for the seller and the condo association.
Jumping through all of the FHA hoops was tiring enough, but dealing with an out of state Wells Fargo underwriter served to make almost everyone involved in the process want to scream…including the loan originator who worked for the same company.
Lapses in communication by the underwriter, repeated requests for documents and information that had already been provided and an apparent inability to actually review the documents they had in hand all served to draw out a closing a full 30 days past the date set in the original purchase agreement. Keeping the buyer from moving in, the seller from moving on and everyone else in a reactive mode, cringing at what new hell they might dream up as the torture de jour.
While the loan originator (who is the front line contact with the buyer and the agents) has a local office, the underwriter sat waaaaay over in Jacksonville, Florida. They didn’t have to make small talk at the water cooler with the originator, they didn’t pass each other in the hall and get a quick update on the status of the loan approval. The underwriter had no incentive to actually get the deal done within the deadlines of the contract. Instead, they focused on the minutiae and stopped or stalled the process over and over again as they requested item after item above and beyond their original request list.
I got tired of asking “is there anything else you need to finish processing this loan?” only to find out days later that yet another document was required – or, even worse, that they were asking for things that had already been sent to them. They even had the gall to throw in a last minute, previously undisclosed seller FHA fee while we were sitting at the closing table signing the settlement statement.
Get to the point, Lisa
The point is that when a buyer uses an out of state lender, everyone in the transaction is faceless to the underwriting staff. You are just another file that they have to get processed instead of being a customer.
That’s why we always, always, always advise our buyers to use a local lender. Someone you can get face to face with. Someone who is working with you, not just on your file. Someone who isn’t reliant on phone calls and email to communicate with the underwriter, but instead can walk down the hall and poke their head into an office for an update.
If you need someone like that, we’d be happy to give you a referral to some New Orleans area lenders we have successfully worked with in the past that didn’t make everyone want to beat their head against a wall. Buying a home is supposed to be fun and we don’t like to work with people who suck the fun out of it. You shouldn’t either.