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broker tips

Broker Tips: 5 Keys to Getting More Approvals

Special to CMT, By Karen Beattie, NEXSYS Financial


Last month I wrote about the challenges mortgage professionals are facing as a result of changes to mortgage underwriting guidelines. Based on the responses to the article, this topic clearly struck a chord. Some readers felt the changes were long overdue while others were concerned about adapting to them.

To address that latter point, I contacted some mortgage underwriters. The mission was to collect their advice on how to get deals quickly approved in this new environment. I went in hoping to get exclusive insider information but, not surprisingly, their advice turned out to be simple common sense:

    • Know the lender’s guidelines – Underwriters were
      unanimous on one thing: too many applications are being submitted that don’t
      meet the lender’s basic guidelines. This results in inefficiencies, delayed
      response times and declined applications. Policies vary from lender to lender, including minimum square footage, rental income offsets and maximum
      mortgage amount, to name a few. In the words of one senior underwriting manager: “Don’t submit applications that you know won’t fit, ‘just to try it.’ Establish a good reputation with the lender by being known as serious, competent and a hard working agent/broker.”  
    • Know your client  Ask the right questions and the tough questions. For
      example, why has the client had four jobs in three years? Why is the spouse not
      going on title? If a client is unwilling to provide a satisfactory response to
      a question or hesitates to provide supporting documents, this is a red flag.
      Dig deeper in these cases because if you don’t, the underwriters will, resulting
      in delays or declines.
    • Be honest – Detrimental information should never
      be withheld for fear of a decline. Misinformation is usually exposed
      eventually, and can sometimes damage a broker’s reputation with a lender. If
      new information is revealed just before closing, the clients and agent could be
      left with no options for financing.
    • Submit a complete application – Lenders and insurers require complete
      applications for a reason. One area that’s known for incomplete information is
      the client‘s assets. A senior underwriter put it this way: “The
      client’s balance sheet is important.  Omitting properties or assets
      because [they’re deemed] not required for the transaction is a very bad idea.”
  • Provide good notes – Good notes paint a picture of why the file should be
    approved. Enter concise notes and make sure they’re relevant to the credit
    decision. Underwriters often receive irrelevant details such as a client’s
    family history, religious background, or appearance (seriously). That the
    applicant is “the most gorgeous man ever”, a soccer coach or related to
    the mayor is not going to affect the credit decision.

Efficiency ratios are under scrutiny in the broker channel. Keeping the above principles
in mind will improve your service to clients and your status with lenders.

Karen Beattie is Business Development Manager at NEXSYS Financial Inc. Karen has been involved in the Canadian Mortgage Industry for 20 years, starting at the lender level and then working as a mortgage agent. She now specializes in underwriting and document validation.