Sunday, July 19, 2009

The media is myopic

I'm watching CNN this Sunday morning, and they've elected to continue their extensive coverage of one of their own's death. Walter Cronkite died the other day, a sad event much as anyone dying is. But a historic event? I think not. The man was a news reporter, perhaps even a good one, though I wouldn't really know being too young to truly remember his reporting style. I've seen less coverage of a statesman dying, or of the thousands that are unjustly dying throughout the world right this very minute. Is CNN covering this? Of course not. They cannot see past their own noses, they think they are newsworthy. I thought the whole point of the reporter was to observe and report. Since when did they become the news? If Mr. Cronkite was the reporter and newsman they are saying he was, would he be embarassed right now?

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's really this bad...

I know the Loan Officers out there may have horror stories of their own, but I need to purge. It seems like between the new regulatory microscope, the everchanging financial picture of the mortgage insurance companies, the constant unsurety of condo and coop building approval guidelines, and the unwillingness to pay for good underwriting staff, it's a miracle that loans actually close.

In New York, where an attorney is required to close on behalf of the bank, you can add to the list bank attorney staff members who think it's OK to treat the borrowers who actually pay their fee rudely.

Here's my day.

Today an underwriter on one of my files decided to call my borrower on a coop refinance and berate him about the way that he prepares his tax returns. The underwriter has a high school education, and my borrower is a corporate tax attorney with 10 years of experience. Net result: I had both of them screaming at me about the other with my manager included. Great.

Our coop approval department, yesterday, asks for the sponsor's cashflow statement if the last amendment to the Coop Offering Plan is over 12 months old. Today he says that he needs both the sponsor's cashflow statement the last amendment dated August of 1999. I'm just trying to get the building approved before the mortgage contingency expires so the borrower doesn't lose his $73,000 contractual deposit if he cannot close his loan. Guess who's yelling at me now: the coop approval guy apparently because he doesn't know his job, the buyer's attorney, the broker, the managing agent of the building and the borrower. Even better.

I finally (who knows how in this environment) get a file to the underwriter to clear to close. She doesn't understand how our condo approval database is set up, or she cannot read, I'm not sure which. So she continually requests condo approval. I don't know this at first, so I keep sending her the condo approval screenshot from the database, which she doesn't know what it says, so she asks for condo approval, and a round and round we go. Meanwhile, it's a Friday, and 4 days before the buyer is contractually obligated to close or forfeit his down payment of $46,000. And who's yelling at me? You got it: the borrower, the underwriter, her manager, my manager, the broker and both attorneys. Yay!

I have one of those Fannie / Freddie prime loan modifications that the Obama adminstriation said was going to help the homeowners. All conditions were submitted with the file. Well, there isn't much to submit other than an application and title. But wait for it...I need a subordination from another major bank. After 2 months and many fruitless faxes, I finally receive the subordination. Now this is a rubber stamp approval and we close, right? Right? Wrong. We are into our second rate lock extension (borrower paid I might add) and I still cannot get the underwriter to approve this file to close. If I ask, I get laughed at, like I'm some kind of idiot to even ask that a refinance that will save our customer hundreds of dollars each month get closed.

This was all before 12pm today, when I couldn't take it anymore and left the office. No, the mortgage industry isn't broken, no way.

Fact is, I could go on and on about issues like these, condo approval wants an appraisal to be amended prior to condo approval, the appraiser (after I go through all the hoops of getting the operations staff to actually submit the request, I've so painstakingly prepared for them in a manner that allows them to quickly review, and push "send" - that's 3 days right there folks) says that the 'as of ' date won't be effective if that is done and thus won't amend the appraisal. Now I'm not taking about a valuation change, nor am I talking about changing anything that isn't on the questionnaire that was completed by the managing agent, reviewed by the developer, signed off on by the developer's attorney and approved by our condo approval department. It's actually not even a change, it's requesting that a box that had "unkn" which is possibly short for "unknown" be marked with the actual data for the purposes of condo project approval. Now if as a commissioned loan originator I'm so bad, fraudulent, and unscrupulous that I cannot be trusted to send a fax to an appraiser (according to HVCC) then why is everyone running this stuff through me? Why doesn't condo project approval reach out the appraiser themselves and request the change. And when the appraiser says "no", make a business decision about what they are going to do. Leave the buyer hanging and add to the housing woes, or go with the questionnaire information and approve the building so that people who want to can buy an apartment and grease the wheels of our sputtering economy.

Bottom line, the loan is going nowhere fast. It doesn't matter where I work because I know people at all major banking institutions who have much, much worse stories to tell. They cannot even pick up their phones anymore. They have run out of excuses, gone past sounding like moron, and are now just weeping...

Oh, and let me end with this one last potshot at the Real Estate Brokers out there. I have a deal that was approved today. I've had the conversation with the broker several times in which I assure him that I'm only paid if the loan closes, I don't get a salary, I'm only paid a commission on closed loans. So today, I say the underwriter told me that it would be approved late yesterday or first thing today. That's literally what the underwriter told me around noon yesterday. Today at around noon, no approval. The broker has the gumption to ask me to ask the underwriter when the approval will be done as if I hadn't spent the morning begging in such a manner as to bring everlasting shame upon my house and family. Is he kidding me?

Man, some people really don't spend much time listening do they? I've told him at least 3 times I don't get a salary and that I'm only paid if the loan closes, what makes him think that I didn't ask the underwriter a thousand times by 9am that morning? He just pressures people because he has no other value to add. People who are good at their jobs are being hammered into bits by the mediocrity of the lending world, there are excellent attorneys, brokers, loan officers, underwriters, closers, buyers, sellers, builders and everyone else out there. At what point do we get to do our jobs?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Morgan Loan Mods are slow like everyone else

I read in the WSJ today that Morgan's servicing unit (Saxon - remember them from the heydays of subprime?) has modiified only 6% of their servicing portfolio. That's not a surprise. Modifications, even the FNMA, Freddie MAC prime loan modifications are put on the back burner at all the major banks that I know of. These loans actually don't require much to close, less than a traditional refinance, but for some reason despite the easy approval process, they take much, much longer to get looked at.

It's odd since it's my understanding that the gross margins are actually pretty good on them. I guess it's just one of those things.