Whodunit? Are Loan Officers supposed to be Detectives?

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago

Are lenders and loan officers supposed to have investigative skills?

So let me pose you this question.  When a lender takes a loan application do they verify the taxes that the buyer tells them? Or ..... by reason of discovery do they verify what the buyer says just to be certain and ultimately correct?

It takes a minimum of detective skills to hop on the internet and in a few keystrokes get the PIN number, tax info on any property on this big blue planet.  

Do loan officers do this or do they feel it is someone else's job outside the scope of lending?

Should it be the agents responsibility?  Should it be the buyers?  What if the taxes are incorrect (naww, that never happens) on the MLS sheet?  Wouldn't want to escrow the incorrect taxes for the buyer?

Who's job is it?  I'm hoping to hear from both lenders and agents.  

Should you be the next 'Columbo'?




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Rodney Mason
On Q Financial - Atlanta, GA
FHA 203(k) & HomeStyle Renovation-AL,GA,TN

I always look to see if I can locate a copy of the tax bill.  Unfortunately, not every city/county in GA has their tax bills online.  When this happens, I use what is in MLS.  An estimate is then required if its not in MLS.

It takes time, but its the only way to be accurate.

Feb 18, 2011 08:39 PM #1
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Your Castle RE Colorado

Lyn- I always go on to the assessor's site to check taxes.  It is just good, honest service!  Unlike Rodney, the taxes in my area are usually online (thankfully).  My husband is intimately aware of RE tax rates (he works with developers and builders as a profession), so this is something that was second nature even before I got into the biz!

Feb 18, 2011 09:59 PM #2
Jeffrey Markell
New American Funding - Mission Viejo, CA

In the application process, I ask the borrower(s) if they know what they pay in yearly taxes and have their tax bill. Some have a ballpark idea of what they pay and most cannot produce the tax bill. After the interview, I'll go on the County's Tax Collector site and get the correct figure. This is the Loan Officer's responsibility and a mistake here can kill the deal. All numbers are important and must be accurate. I urge all Loan Officer's to take the time and effort to do your job right.

Feb 19, 2011 12:55 AM #3
Janna Scharf
Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene - Coeur d'Alene, ID
Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Professional

I always verify the taxes online at the county assessors office.  Is it part of my job description?  Probably not, but it's simple to do, and I just do it!

Feb 19, 2011 05:01 AM #4
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

It would be great if they had those skills but I think that is a pipe dream.

Feb 19, 2011 09:24 AM #5
Bryant Tutas
Bryant Tutas-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc - Poinciana, FL
Broker/REALTOR, Tutas Towne Realty, Inc

Lyn. It's my opinion that any good LO will verify property taxes from the tax assessor's site. AND any good Buyer's agent should be reviewing their buyer's GFE to double check the figures.

Feb 19, 2011 09:28 AM #6
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Homes

Janna: Thanks for your input. I think it's an easy procedure that is just done out of due diligence.

BB:  I don't know about reviewing the GFE, we have the buyers attorney do that here in IL.

Bill:  Just wondering.

Jeffrey:  Thanks for your input. Glad to know that you verify the #'s as most people don't have a clue what they actually pay (refi) and new buyers kinda remember that they saw the # somewhere.  I think it's just basic verification of info.

Jennifer: Every county here is now online & make it very easy to find things. In fact, some sites are SO GREAT they even have floorplans online.

Rodney: You could verify by phone at the assessors office too. You couldn't get me to take the #'s in the MLS as gospel.  We have a selection in our MLS that pulls info right off the tax records to auto fill in certain areas & people are too lazy to even use that.


Feb 19, 2011 11:03 AM #7
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

Ultimately, if it's showing up on THEIR GFE, I would hope they would want to be in charge of verifying that figure.

Feb 19, 2011 12:46 PM #8
Elizabeth Byrne
Keller Williams Realty - Arlington, VA
Arlington Virginia Real Estate

Lyn, I believe Loan Officer and Realtor should verifty the taxes. With the information available on Internet it is an easy and simple task to perform.  P.S. Thank you for visiting my Ninja post.

Feb 21, 2011 10:15 PM #9
Donne Knudsen
Los Angeles & Ventura Counties in CA - Simi Valley, CA
CalState Realty Services

Lyn - Ok, maybe I'm a little dense but first I wasn't sure if you were talking income taxes or property taxes.  You're talking property taxes - right?  If you are you talking about the property taxes for the buyer on the property they are purchasing, here in Los Angeles & Ventura counties, we (MLO) use a formula of 1.25% of the sales price as an estimate of the proposed assessed value.  If it's verifying whether the seller has paid their taxes on the property they are selling, then yes, we (MLO) verify that online with the county tax assessors office.  Did this answer your questions?

Feb 22, 2011 01:19 PM #10
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Homes

Donne:  Yes, thank you. So you do verify.

Elizabeth:  I am looking into that Ninja Salesmanship stuff.

Chris Ann:  We're an attorney state so their attorney reviews their GFE with the buyers but before that we usually check the county records so see what the exact taxes are as the MLS is never correct.

Feb 22, 2011 03:21 PM #11
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Lyn:  The questions of taxes is involved right from the very start of any conversation I have with a potential client.  Maybe it's my appraising background coming out ... but verifying information like this, as well as property information itself, is routine for me and mandatory to the processing.  No offense to any other professional, but I do my own research regarding taxes and housing values and where they might be heading.  This is core information.  You don't rely on someone else's word.  JMO ...


Feb 22, 2011 08:25 PM #12
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Homes

Gene: Thanks for your response. You're a thorough professional.

Feb 22, 2011 08:33 PM #13
Tim Peterson
Wisconsin Realtor Safety and Concealed Carry Classes - Madison, WI
Realtor Safety Training Classes

Hi Lyn-good post and interesting answers. I always verify them myself

Feb 23, 2011 02:57 AM #14
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg IL Real Estate - Northwest Suburbs of Chicago - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Homes

Tim:  Thanks for your input & stopping by.

Feb 23, 2011 10:24 AM #15
Roy Paeth
Keller Williams Fox Valley Realty - Saint Charles, IL
Just a regular guy helping real people!

Lyn I can tell you that when I have a client that is making an offer on a property I always look up the most recent tax bill. As you know there are certain areas where the home may only cost $70,000 but he tax bill could be $5000. This can make a huge difference in the amount of money the borrower will need to show in assets. I would rather tell a client sorry the listing is wrong and based on the real tax bill your debt ratio is too high or you do not have enough assets to qualify, rather than 2 weeks in to the loan process have to break the same news to the borrower.

Feb 24, 2011 01:11 AM #16
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