Start 2009 by recognizing the unrecognized

Rhonda has a post over at her Blog regarding the low interest rate environment that prevails today.  Rates under 5% are hard to believe even for very seasoned agents, loan officers and those in the title and escrow profession.

The last three weeks have been remarkable and quite frankly Lynlee and I, and I presume many others in lending and title/escrow business, have had little time to breath under the refinance work that came in during December and the Holiday Season.  I’m not complaining about work but, only speaking for myself, it was an incredibly difficult (and continues) period because 2008 was the Christmas that really never was.   It is the downside of being in the escrow business.  Your time.

Lynlee and I worked numerous nights into the wee hours at the office.  On the 23rd, we worked until nearly midnight to get funding packages ready for overnight delivery to lenders after a full day work and scrambled for loan officers and agents to get borrowers signed from Tacoma to Bellevue to Everett.  Oh, did I mention the snow?  It wreaked havoc on FedEx and UPS overnight deliveries for payoff checks and loan documents to lenders all across the country.  Some documents are seemingly lost forever, others just arriving this week.

I had to chain up for days to get to get out of my driveway and the hill I live on to get to the office, only to take them off once on the freeways, only to put them back on to get to clients homes in the hills of Bellevue and Tacoma and beyond.

The stories are plentiful of owners of other businesses such as mortgage brokers and title offices who had to pick up staff such as underwriters, processors, funders among others to get them into the office to work on transactions so that loan officer and agents transactions closed on time.

One late evening on my way home I dropped off documents and closing Settlement Statements to a local lender, only to peer into the lower level windows and see funding staff working on files while it snowed hard outside.  Glanced at my watch…9pm.  Didn’t we receive funding conditions from these gals via e-mail at what time????  Oh yes, it was 5:30 AM !   Still there at 9pm.

Who is going to say “thank you,” to those two ladies and all the others that work behind the scenes to make your transactions go without a hitch, while sacrificing time lost with family during the Holidays.

I did.  How about you?

To all the Title Officers, escrow officers, processors (big thanks to them), underwriters (unbelievably slammed), funding depts. and other support staff—those who are never in the limelight, don’t have sales awards or other platitudes adoring their offices, but come with their work ethic, lunch pail and get the job done, all the while wondering about the economy, how prior co-workers are coping with layoffs etc.. …………… deserve a great big “Thanks.”

– Tim & Lynlee, Legacy Escrow

30 thoughts on “Start 2009 by recognizing the unrecognized

  1. Hi Tim, yes you’re right. Where would we be without our production staff? To their credit I did hear about many title reps who helped drive staff to and from work and who helped with signings during the snow but those were only the snow/road warrior type of title rep.

  2. Jillayne…

    The reality is no one cares about all your hard work. The part you left out was the broker/LO got a call from the borrower on the third day of the rescission who is canceling the transaction because they just got a quote from for $50 bucks lower in closing costs and .125% lower in rate. You know the rest of the story, “Sorry for the inconvenience, but over 30 years this is saving me… blah, blah, blah.”

  3. I totally care about all of the folks that make it possible for me to provide the level of service I strive for to my clients. I know that this doesn’t happen often enough. My empathy comes from years of sporting the title/escrow hat and having LO’s delivering loan packages WITH their client to sign WITHOUT an appt…

    It’s not just LO’s who have trained consumers to shop for rates… I know folks like Russ and myself have tried to educate consumers that there is a lot more to interest rate… just ask the consumers who chased rates only to wind up w/crappy service or worse, rates or programs they didn’t expect or understand or no closing. We can thank the media and the advertisements of companies such as LendingTree where you call and have 4 LO’s drool on you…we also can thank real estate agents who say “go and get preapproved w/3 LOs and see who will offer you the best deal” instead of “go meet with 3 LOs and see who is the best fit for you–who do you connect with? Who is the most qualified to serve your needs?”

  4. My comment was more out of frustration given that I and my staff experienced much of what you described in Dec… fighting snow storms, working till midnight, foregoing our holiday vacation time, fighting with underwriters, dealing with all the obscene and illogical guidelines that we have these days and basically ensuring that our clients get great deals and the loans actually make it to the closing table… all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes consumers rarely see.

    However, after going through all that… you get the call I described in my first comment because despite all your hard work, at the end of the day it still boils down to what’s my rate for most folks regardless if you deserve a purple heart.

    This job makes more and more cynical every day, but I do love it…. lol

  5. Great thoughts everybody.

    Jillayne, not much flooding yet. We’ll see.

    Rhonda, I really dont’ understand why there is resistance (could be I’m reading it wrong) to consumers doing shopping for rates and fees. The problem as I see it is that “service” is not tangible to people whom they have not known (referrals always break the ice, true). But, money out of their pocket is tangible immediately. You, me and everyone else can talk service till were blue in the face, but money talks (fees, commissions and rates).

  6. Hi Tim,

    Glad to hear that you’re okay. I was getting worried…

    Tim we’re in a transition period where loan originators have two feet on different tracks. On the one hand, many still behave as if they are retail salepeople and the industry itself really has done a beautiful job of training consumers to shop for a mortgage based on rates and fees.

    On the other hand, LOs are beginning to emerge as a profession. When I hire an attorney, I could care less about his/her hourly fee. Instead, when something’s going on in my life that’s important enough to need legal help, I select the attorney based on experience and reputation and the hourly fee is further down on the list.

    We’ve trained consumers to leave us at the last minute for Die Tech/Lending Tree. Why wouldn’t they leave for a better rate when we (the industry) continues to sell rates?

    Across the marketplace, the shift from salesperson to professional will take years.

  7. Tim, here’s an example… I had an agent contact me last week wanting to know if we could close a purchase in 3 weeks–not a problem. The borrower was happy with my rate quote and then decided to go online to see what else he could find. He did find a rate 0.125% better than what I was quoting at that time paying 0.125% higher in discount fee. (About $20 a month difference for $350 in more cost).

    I doubt the other lender (a big on-line lender) will be able to his purchase in 3 weeks. But the rate is what he opted for.

    I try to educate consumers as much as possible via blogging, but I’m sure sometimes I sound like an old broken record.

  8. Jillayne, I would say it’s not so much the industry that has promoted rates… perhaps its more an internet revolution. Whenever I’m looking at buying something or even learning about a Doctor or other professional, I go to the internet. LieTech and others have reached to the consumers through the boob-tube… add to that LO’s who will gamble the market (this market is ripe for it) by quoting an “amazing” rate in order to “win” the borrower…hoping the market improves so they can cover it. What’s a consumer to believe? I also think there is very little loyality (not sure if that’s the right word) in this world. One of my favorite clients asked me “when am I committed to you” and I answered “when do you want me to be committed to you”. We both laughed…it is a two way street.

    How do you recommend a borrower select their mortgage/loan originator?

  9. by doing lots of research on the L.O. before selecting them. Just a simple friends/family blind referral isn’t good enough because the consumer is then relying on a family member or friend’s opinion and isn’t thinking for himself/herself.

    by selecting an LO who owes fiduciary duties to their clients.

    by education level, knowledge, experience.

    Maybe there should be a public record somewhere of that LO’s loans showing how many went into default, how many were subprime, FHA, etc.

    I’d want samples of the last 10 GFEs and HUD I’s so I could compare. but I’m anal retentive that way. consumers aren’t educated enough to know what to look for.

    If an LO doesn’t even have 10 GFEs for me to look at, then the LO isn’t very experienced and that would warrant me negotiating a much lower fee.

    I would pay a higher fee to an LO who owed me higher duties from the start.

  10. Jillayne, I think this is a terrific idea:

    “Maybe there should be a public record somewhere of that LO’s loans showing how many went into default, how many were subprime, FHA, etc.”

    They can add how many clients returned to the LO too…I think that’s a positive sign when the consumer returns to the original LO. The record could also indicate what the LO specializes in–how many loans are investment, reverse mortgages, gov., etc.

  11. Hi Rhonda,

    I thought of something else. If a loan originator also held a certified financial planner designation/degree/certificate, that would also be a good indicator that this person owed me way higher duties than an average random LO.

  12. Jillayen, I started with earning my CFP… but just ran out of time between work and being a Mom. That’s why when CMPS first came around, I was all ears. I’m not so big on CMPS now except for that it does show that one has done something more than “an average random LO”.

    I do think that the licensing issues will continue to weed out shady and weak LO’s… the economy will shake away the fray…including some good LO’s who just couldn’t make it.

    I would think that 2009, in Washington State, we’ll have much more professional LO’s (at least those of us who are required to be licensed).

    I may have to start posting my GFE’s w/HUDs and black out the names/address of my clients…. that was a good idea you had…but you’re right, most consumers would not want to do all of that legwork.

  13. I think we should start 2009 with the word caution, we should be cautious while spending, investing and buying all things. Credit is something we should avoid as much as possible.

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