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Why a Mortgage Professional Beats a Banker Every Time -- The Story Tells It All

The best way to explain why a mortgage professional is always better than a banker is to use an anecdote. My parents lived in the house I grew up in for 35 years, so it was finally time to move. They found a home they liked, made an offer, and signed a purchase agreement. After conferring with me, they decided to go to a bank - one of the more well-known mortgage banks in the region. Of course, I thought a good mortgage professional would be better, and I told them I could follow the deal from start to finish, if they went with a company I previously worked for, but the bank they decided on offered a little better rate and lower fees, so they wanted to go with them.

I told them to go ahead, but I was nervous, knowing what I know about large banks, ones that are not wholesale lenders, who work with mortgage professionals. After many trips to the bank (remember, bank loan officers don't come to you) that included plenty of hassles over paperwork, they agreed on a loan for their new home. The next step was to sell their house, so they could use the proceeds for a down payment and moving expenses. My parents had over $60,000 in equity and wanted to put a good chunk down on their new house and use the rest for expenses.

Since time was against them - they had 30 days to pay off the seller of their new home, and they didn't have an immediate offer on their current residence - they decided to apply for a bridge loan (more on bridge loans later). This would take the equity from their current home and use it to pay off their mortgage, leaving them enough money for the down payment on their new house. When they sold their old home, they would use that money to pay off the bridge loan. Here is where things got very dicey.

Their new lender offered 85 percent of the value of their home for the bridge loan. So, if the home appraised for $100,000, they would get $85,000. They assumed the value would be there. The bank sent an appraiser on a drive-by, which means my parents weren't notified, and the appraiser did not go in the house. He then wrote up the value for the bank's loan underwriter. Drive-by appraisals almost always come in lower than the home's actual value.

Now one of the three or four loan officers my parents were dealing with called and told them the value they would use for the loan, and it turned out to be about $10,000 less than they expected. This meant they would not have the money they hoped for, and they would now have to put less money down on their new home. This would, of course, lead to other problems - like a higher monthly mortgage payment and less money for moving expenses. They were, to say the least, devastated.

Being the proactive person that I am, I decided to intervene and call their bank. I spoke with one of the many loan officers (you see, you don't have just one person handling you at a bank; you're just another loan number). I had, of course, already done my own research and learned that the value of my parents' house should be much higher. I asked the loan officer to explain how they came to this very low value. She fumbled through her answer and told me they use comparable sales prices in the area and that they don't do a drive-by appraisal.

She said I would have to talk to someone in their equity department, because she didn't know what other options there were. I was somewhat surprised at her lack of intimate knowledge with the bank's policies, but I certainly wasn't shocked. This is the nature of home loan operations at a bank - one person passes the responsibility to another and only in rare instances does one department really know what the other is doing. You'll never have this problem with a good mortgage professional.

After being channeled through another receptionist at the same branch office, I wound up speaking to an underwriter in the equity department. She told me that a drive-by was, in fact, done. I explained to her as I had the other woman why the value was inaccurate. (I had very accurate comparable sales prices from different resources, given to me by one of the area's best appraisers.)

I asked the equity underwriter if my parents could have a complete interior appraisal done to give a true value, and she said this was an acceptable option. In the end, my parents got the value they needed, and things worked out just fine. They needed a quality mortgage professional, though, to get it done.

Mark Barnes is an investment real estate and real estate finance expert. Get his free mortgage finance course at Mark is also the author of the new novel, The League, a shocking, sports-related conspiracy. Learn more about his suspense thriller at


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