Your Questions About Mortgage Loan Officer

Daniel asks…

is becoming a loan officer and real estate agent a good career?

I am a college senior studying business administration/finance. I did an internship at a mortgage company and loved it and I am also interested in architecture/interior design. I thought I wanted to go corporate finance but the more I meet people who are involved in high level positions, the more I realize how miserable and work consumed they are. I want a career with potential that allows me to interact with people, but also enjoy my life. Is a career as a loan officer and real estate agent a wise choice?

John answers:

I don’t know about a real estate agent but I worked as a loan officer for a number of years so I can give you a little insight. I loved working as a loan officer because you get a feeling of really “helping” your customers. Especially mortgage loans because your customers are really lost and if you are able to explain things to them in a way they understand, they are truly grateful (because it’s a really stressful time for them). (If you’re good) The pay is pretty good and there are substantial pay increases and timely promotions. The down side, you are expected to attend many functions, after hours and weekends. Not only are you expected to do this but it is necessary to do this because you have to drum up at lot of your own business to be successful. You can sit on your duff and just take walk-ins but believe me, you won’t be meeting your monthly quotas.

So, if you enjoy doing the extra socializing (I did), this career is rewarding, fulfilling and offers good pay.

Hope this helps.

Carol asks…

I own my own land free and clear, I was told to cash out the equity to help buy a mfd home, how does it work?

I do not have a mortgage, the loan officer told us to cash out to reduce the amount of the loan for the mfd home. How does cashing out equity on land or even homes that are owned free and clear work, I need help!

John answers:

Me-as-a-tree’s answer is pretty good.

Short answer:
Your Loan Officer is trying to meet very specific Lender guidelines in order to get your deal done.

Long Answer:
However, one person pointed out that Mannie’s (manufactured home) loans are not as pretty.

It goes way, way beyond “not pretty”

I currently am broker approved with over 120 wholesale lenders, and I have access to hundreds more. The lenders who currently have loan product for Mannie’s are dropping their manufactured products (loans) and if not, tightening their guidelines so much that it is becoming more, and more difficult to place people into these loans.

Now remember the guidelines that I’m talking about, and remember Me-as-a-tree’s comments about LTV, or Loan to Value. Even though property will “typically” increase in value, your Manny will almost always depreciate, unlike a traditional “stick-built home”.

Fast forward a few years down the road. You want or need to refinance. Even if you have stellar credit scores, the guidelines regarding LTV is much harder to meet. Do not get even think about going over 60% LTV. Plunk lot’s of cash down, or go stick built.

Also, remember to shop,shop,shop and compare different brokers and loan companies to make sure you’re getting the best deal. “at least three”

Good Luck

Sandra asks…

How can I get more loan officers to work for my company?

I have a new mortgage company and I am looking for loan officers that would like to work out of their homes. I do not want to spend a lot of money for an ad but I would like to give LOs the opportunity to hear what kind of deal we have going on. There is no split, we just charge the LO a $500 fee and $395 processing fee and that’s it (no hidden costs!) If anyone has any good suggestions I am open to just about anything, as long as it’s not too expensive!!

John answers:

One inexpensive method is to join your local Mortgage broker (or Mortgage Banker) association and attend the meetings. There, you would likely find Loan Officers who are serious about their career, since less-serious LOs never attend those meetings. That is one way to target quality over quantity.

Another way would be to get in touch with your local Account Executives. They usually know of LOs who are unhappy with their current employer, and if you have a good relationship with an AE, they may refer you their contacts.

Lastly, if you want inexperienced LOs that you can train to fit your system, you could hold a “seminar” about your job opportunity. Just email/mail the announcement of the seminar to your current client base, family, friends, etc., and rent out a conference room for about $15-$20/hour and provide water and/or coffee. Spend a 1/2 hour to an hour presenting the benefits of being a LO, especially with your company.

Good luck!

Michael asks…

Loan officers to blame for Subprime Mortgage Crisis?

What do loan officers do? Are they to blame for the mortgage crisis?

John answers:

Those who study mortgage trends have said that there has been a pretty consistent pattern of a “bust” in mortgages about every 18 years since World War II. We’ve seen problems like this before and we will survive this “crisis.” If you’re looking for a mortgage right now, rates are still very good. The world is not ending (as the politicians who are itching to “help” would have us believe).

Now to your question… In summary, EVERYONE involved played a part in the mortgage crisis to some extent or another.

BORROWERS — Rather than living within their means, many borrowers decided that they wanted to have a bigger, more expensive house than they could afford. In order to afford these houses, they often turned to loan products such as “Interest Only” loans. With IO loans, you basically pay the minimum amount possible every month and the principal is never reduced. To complicate matters, some loans featured “zero down” where the borrower had absolutely NO equity in the property. Here is an illustration of a typical problem: A property is worth $800,000 at the time of purchase. The borrower takes out an Interest Only loan for $800,000 (putting nothing down). Then the property value drops to $700,000. Now the borrower has a loan for $800,000 for a property that is only worth $700,000. The borrower has ZERO equity in the property so guess what… They walk away from the property and the lender ends up taking the loss.

MORTGAGE COMPANIES (BAD OR POOR UNDERWRITING GUIDELINES) — In an effort to make as many loans as possible (and to sell these loans to foolishly eager investors), many mortgage companies relaxed their guidelines beyond reason. Some loans had a Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratio of 100 (or higher on rare occasion!). If the property was worth $100,000, then an LTV meant that $100,000 was loaned to the borrower (as stated before, no equity). The lower the LTV, the less risky (and more desirable) the loan is. Another arguably stupid mortgage product was the “80-20” loan. A loan with an LTV of 80 or lower is not considered risky in the mortgage business. Therefore, Mortgage Insurance (MI) is not required for loans with an LTV of 80% or less. (If a borrower has an LTV of 85 and pays it down to 80, then they can drop the MI from the loan.) MI is basically insurance against borrower default. For example, if a borrower defaults on his loan and the lender forecloses and sells the property and loses $2000 in the process, then the MI company will cut a check to the lender for $2000 to make the lender “whole.” Rather than requiring borrowers to carry MI on their loans (which would have mitigated risk), the mortgage companies allowed the borrowers to take out a second loan on the same property (a “second lien” or Home Equity Line of Credit or HELOC). This HELOC money was then used as the “money down” on the first loan so that MI could be avoided. For example, if the property is worth $100,000, the borrower might get a HELOC for $20,000 and put that money down on the first loan, thereby lowering the LTV to 80 (thereby exempting them from MI). Another popular loan was an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) or “Fixed-Adjustable” (where the Interest Rate is fixed for a few years and then starts to adjust (up or down) based on a financial instrument). Borrowers were allegedly given a low “teaser rate” and then (because they bought too much house) couldn’t make the payments with the higher interest rate when the rate adjusted. (It seems hard for me to believe that an interest rate adjustment would be so severe that it would prevent someone from making their payments, but that’s what the borrowers allegedly claim.) Maybe this is too many detailed examples, but suffice it to say that a lot of stupid mortgage products were offered by mortgage companies (and accepted by borrowers).

INVESTORS — In their quest to make a “fast buck”, investors bought up tons of these mortgages since these riskier “sub-prime” loans brought higher returns (higher interest rates). These investors should have performed a “due diligence” on the loans they bought; but they didn’t. When investors purchase loans, there is usually (if not always) a “buyback” provision. This means that if a loan goes bad and the investor finds that there was some irregularity in the underwriting (the loan decisioning process) that the mortgage company who sold them the loan is required to “buy back” the loan. The problem is that most mortgage companies are “cash poor” (meaning that they borrow the cash that they lend from a “warehouse lender” temporarily until they can sell the loan to an investor and pay back their warehouse lender). So when these loans started going bad (hundreds of millions of dollars worth!), the investors demanded the mortgage companies buy back the loans (according to their agreement). So mortgage companies were now looking at buying millions and millions of dollars worth of loans back when they had little or no money of their own! So what happened? Countless mortgage companies declared bankruptcy. With all of the hullaballoo around bad mortgages, investors decided to stop buying sub-prime mortgages. Since there was nobody buying these mortgages and since mortgage companies don’t have their own cash, mortgage companies found that they could no longer make these sub-prime loans. The sub-prime market dried up almost instantly.

RATING AGENCIES — The job of rating agencies is to investigate the creditworthiness of investments (many of which included mortgage debt). These agencies did not do their due diligence and ended up giving these investments an artificially high rating. So investors thought the investments were less risky than they were. Investors will always buy investments that have a high return and low risk (but obviously they weren’t low risk).

THE GOVERNMENT — The government has always put pressure on mortgage companies to make loans to poor and/or minority borrowers. Because these borrowers typically have worse credit and/or less income and/or greater debt, they had to go to the “sub-prime” market to get a mortgage loan. Is it so hard to imagine that a borrower with less income, more debt and bad payment habits will default on a loan (especially when they’ve put little or no money down)? Of course not. But the government continues to “wish away” laws of basic economics and common sense. In order to “do right” by poor people and minorities, the government expected mortgage companies suspend their normal sound underwriting guidelines and business sense. (Obviously, the sub-prime problem goes beyond just poor borrowers, but my point is that the government contributed to the crisis to some extent.) The government is now poised and ready to exacerbate the crisis beyond what it is now by “freezing” interest rate adjustments. Here is an illustration of the problem: Let’s say you have $5000 in cash. I’m a bank and I tell you that if you deposit your $5000 with me that I will pay you 1% during the first 2 years but then I will pay you 7% after those 2 years. So you deposit your money at the low rate of interest. After two years (when you’re about to get your higher interest rate), the government comes in and says, “Sorry. You’re not getting your 7% as promised. In fact, you can’t take your money out of that bank; you must leave it there and only collect 1% for another 10 years.” What will happen when you have another $5000 to deposit? Will you put it in my bank? Absolutely not. Why? Because you don’t know if you’ll really get the return you agreed upon. In the same way, if the government steps in and says to the investor/lender, “Sorry… You’re not getting the return on your money that you negotiated… And you can’t take back your money; you’ve got to leave it at the low rate,” then guess what the investor is going to do. He will never invest in mortgages again! He will take his money to China or municipal bonds or any other vehicle in which he can get a RELIABLE return on his money. If he DOES decide to put money into mortgage debt again, he will demand a higher return to compensate for the greater risk that the government will step in and “help” again. (In other words, Interest Rates on mortgages will go up for EVERYONE!) Thank you Big Government Democrats and George Bush!

REGIONAL PROBLEMS — Some regions in the USA had events that made the mortgage problems particularly bad. For example, inflated property values in California started deflating. Condos in Florida didn’t sell as thought and many sit vacant. Companies providing jobs in the “rust belt” (such as Michigan) have moved or gone under; thereby leaving the local homeowners with no income with which to make their mortgage payments.

Sorry for such a long answer. Hope it all makes sense.


Joseph asks…

Mortgage loan officers? ANY OUT THERE?

Im just starting now…i know the market is down, but its not too bad where i live, and it wont always be like this!

Anyway, where is the best place to start? What is the best thing to do to get clients?
Please help!

John answers:

All mortgage loans are not created equal. If you are looking for a loan, you have probably discovered the array of loan types and options. It can be confusing forthe first-time borrowerand are easier to qualify for than conventional loans. They are also guaranteed to the lender, which allows the borrower to obtain more favorable loan terms.

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