If you’re having difficulty getting your loan approved, you might think talking with the underwriter is a good idea. That way, you can explain your self-employment income, your tax deductions, your true rental income, your defaulted student loan, or the bad credit account.
If the loan officer gets paid only when a loan closes, why won’t she/he put you through to the underwriter? It seems logical that letting you explain things to the underwriter would be in the best interest of the loan officer as well, right?
But no. Underwriters — the final decision-makers on whether a loan is approved or denied — do not and will not speak with borrowers. Here are three reasons why.
1) The underwriter must follow the rules in the lender’s underwriting guide. These rules include exactly how to calculate income and how to handle credit. For example…
… Only 75% of rental income can be included. (25% is set aside for repairs and possible future vacancies.)
… For self-employed income, there is a complex worksheet that must be filled out. Part of that dictates that the Adjusted Gross Income is the main figure used. So if you have a clever accountant and write off tens of thousands of dollars worth of income, that lowers the income you get to count accordingly.
Therefore, you cannot call the underwriter to inform her that she has calculated your income incorrectly. Her calculations are correct and yours are wrong, according to the lender’s rules.
2) Verbal Explanations Do Not Count
If you have an explanation that needs to be included in the decision-making, put it in writing. Create a short and to-the-point Letter of Explanation that can be added to your application and loan file. Then and only then will the underwriter consider your explanation. This is because the underwriter is required to have documentation in your file to support any exception to a rule.
3) Your Loan Officer is Your Advocate
Your loan officer has a vested interest in getting your loan closed, but she/he also knows the underwriting guidelines. If a question or argument needs to be made to the underwriter, your loan officer does that for you. Thus, the loan officer serves as a gate-keeper and screen for the underwriter. Underwriters are under pressure to get loans approved and on to the Doc Draw Dept. They can’t spend half their day chatting or arguing with borrowers. It’s not in their job description. But, it is in your loan officer’s job description.
Underwriters will speak with loan officers, so if there is a valid question or argument to be made, you do that through your loan officer. That is part of what your loan officer is paid to do: be the bridge between you and everyone else in the complex process.
Remember this overriding principle: “He who holds the money makes the rules.”
If you disagree with the rules about how income is calculated or how credit is considered, that makes no difference. In Mortgage Land, the customer is not right; the underwriter is right. The underwriter must look out for the lender’s risk in lending money.
The one with the money decides on who gets it. What’s more, they don’t “owe you” to give you a loan.
Understanding this perspective will help you get approved. Ask your loan officer to explain the rules to you so you understand why the underwriter made that determination. Then, if warranted, put your explanations in a letter. Use bullet points, not long wordy sentences. A good letter can work magic. People are sometimes surprised at the loans I’ve been able to get approved by adding a succinct, logical Letter of Explanation to the loan application.
One last thing. In Mortgage Land, getting mad and yelling at people or sending upset emails does not help your cause. Underwriters do not give in because someone throws a fit. So keep your cool and your dignity, and do what needs to be done to make the underwriter happy with your application and documentation.