What a Realtor should anticipate from underwriters

Mortgage and Lending with Finance of America MLS 6621

What a Realtor should anticipate from underwriters

I put this post together as a suggestion from Mona Gersky. Thanks for the idea Mona.


Underwriters will very rarely have direct contact with the Realtor and will typically go through the processor or loan officer to get conditions satisfied. My job is to present the underwriter with the most complete file possible by anticipating what she will ask for and getting it to her in advance. These are some of the most important items needed from Realtor’s side to ensure a smooth transaction:

1.       A complete and legible fully executed contract.  Legible being the critical component. I have gotten many, many contracts that were re-faxed several times before it got to me and the end result is an unintelligible blur. I understand that it is sometimes unavoidable, but if I can’t read it you can be assured the underwriter won’t even try.  Scan and email the copies back and forth if you can and if you can’t, send me a copy of the unsigned final contract prior to being faxed to use as a reference alongside the blur. Sometimes I can get the underwriter to accept it, but it will delay the process.  

  •        A fully executed contract may seem basic, but I can’t tell you how many times I've gotten contracts with missing signatures because the Realtor was in a rush to get it to me or didn’t think it was important to give me a fully executed contract. The underwriter will kick it back and put the file on the bottom of the stack, so I won’t even bother to submit the file.  
  •        A complete contract means complete including addendums, so please attach any and all addendums with the contract.

2.       I take great care in reading the contracts before submission but I am not a Realtor and may miss a piece of critical information within it so it is always helpful for you to point out any potential issues like unrecorded easements, zoning irregularities ie; non conforming legal, well water test requirement, bodies in the basement that need exhumation or anything unusual that may hinder or potentially delay the process.

3.        Please contact me during or BEFORE the negotiation stage so we can coordinate a strategy based on the buyer’s financial limitations. You would need to know the buyer may not have enough cash to close or may need a certain level of reserves to meet the approval requirements so the closing costs and/or pre-pays as well as escrows may need to be included in the negotiations.

4.       Whether you think it’s important or not, please provide the termite letter as some underwriters are asking for it on every deal.  

5.       Let me know if there is anything unusual or deficient about the house that may come up in the appraisal. Things like handicap provisions built into the house, peeling paint, broken windows, an unrecorded addition or recent addition, in-law suite, more than one kitchen, no access to basement through the house, water stains from leaking roof(old or new), missing handrails, missing sheetrock, etc. Some of these are deal killers and others just need to be addressed in advance.

6.       Is the house on public sewer system or septic? Some states require the septic system be tested and certified prior to transfer and the underwriter will ask for it.

7.       Most of all, I will ALWAYS take your call or call you back promptly so please do the same for me. I’m not calling you to chit chat, but to relay a piece of information, convey an issue with the file or ask a specific question. Sometimes that piece of information is critical to the deal and cannot move forward without it.

8.       If it’s a condo, I need the condo management company’s information to order the questionnaire and bylaws. More often than not, they are difficult to work with and I may ask your help to get me the paperwork I need. Most will also charge for providing the required information so you need to work that out with the seller’s agent in advance because I will not pay for it.  

9.       Before we get started, let me know if the condo complex is FHA, USDA or Fannie Mae approved so I’ll know how to structure the deal or if it can be done at all. It would also help a great deal if you know the investor concentration.

10.     In order for me to disclose to the buyer I need to know who is the title agent/attorney you are using for this deal to establish their fees. The new GFE is binding so I need to be accurate. If there are any changes to be made after I disclose, I have to wait 3-7 business days to re-disclose (depending on the situation) or wait to close the deal. I've found some small title companies are reluctant to issue a preliminary HUD. If you can, let the title agent know I’ll be calling to avoid delay. The file does not go to the underwriter without a complete signed disclosure packet.

11.     Let me know if there is something about the buyer I should know about so I can deal with it accordingly. There’s nothing worse than getting blindsided.   

12.   Don’t get mad at me when the underwriter approves the file with some silly conditions. If I’ve come to you looking for that condition, it means I’ve already verified the guidelines, discussed it with her and her supervisor and there is no alternative. Underwriters are under a lot of stress since a big part of their job hinges on their default rate long after the deal closes, so you know they will pick that file apart no matter how clean it is. It’s just a sign of the times.


It all boils down to simple communication and cooperation on both sides. I promise you will let you know the status of the application every step of the way and if you let me know the status and projected time line of milestones along the way I can plan for it and we can both ease the buyer’s mind.

My job is to remove as much of the stress from the process as possible by properly qualifying the buyer, ensure the buyer will be approved by uncovering all the potential pitfalls and dealing with them in advance, present a clean file to underwriting and above all make you look like a superstar to the buyer so he can tell everyone how wonderful we both are.




Comments (10)

Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Ray, that is extremely helpful.  You are getting a comment, suggest, reblog, bookmark, association and printed from me!  Since you can loan in all 50 states, I'm also sliding you onto our Preferred Services Provider list.

Are there ever any chances of unconditioning a condition? By this I mean...if you have an eminently qualified buyer financially, the house is rock freaking solid AND appraisal exceeds purchase price by 15%, neighborhood was formed in 1993 and is so stable its like a bolted rock, beautiful private paved road built to state standards but there is no formal road maintenance.  You heard me, the neighbors have been maintaining this road since 1993 without a formal agreement.  There are 25-30 neighbors on the road and chances are slim to non-existent that all of the neighbors will form an association for the purpose of maintaining a road just so the buyer can get her loan finalized.

Have you ever seen an underwriter get a waiver for any FHA conditions?

Great post and thanks for the mention.

Aug 05, 2011 12:42 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

Ray, thank you for writing this blog - great, great info! It wouldn't be possible for you to distribute this to any and all loan officers "out there"? I can't tell you how many times I've had to chase them down, no calls returned, complete communication break-down etc... I'm always extremely thankful if I've worked with a loan officer before and know they'll do an outstanding job!

I have one question about No. 8, I've been under the impression that it is way easier for a LO to access that info? Now I'm thinking, I may have missed something ... I would love to know that before even sitting down to write any offer, too..

Thanks again, Ray, I'm hitting suggest as well.

Aug 05, 2011 01:26 AM
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Ray. This is a great post filled with significant and useful information. I really appreciate the detail and hope you have a productive day.

Aug 05, 2011 01:32 AM
Ray Waisler
Finance of America - Atlanta, GA
NMLS #6621 - Specializing in Jumbo FHA & VA

Mona - Thank you, I am honored and will do my utmost not to let you down at any time. As for the FHA road situation, an HOA road maintenance agreement is not required as long as there is a permanent recorded easement. To be certain, I called my underwriter to verify. I hope this helps.

Andrea - Writing this was entirely my pleasure and it is published as "public" . You are more than welcome to re-blog or distribute to your contact list as you see fit. As for your question about number 8, I've typically seen the listing agent having that information at their fingertips since they should consult the bylaws about signage, showing time restrictions, advertising and the like prior to listing. In some cases the listing agent farms the complex regularly and knows all the players where I would come in cold.  

Sheila - Thank you and I sincerely hope this is helpful.  


Aug 05, 2011 05:48 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

Ray, thank you for your reply. I made a mistake, I didn't mean to reference number 8 (of course, we get all that information), I was wondering about the FHA, USDA, Fannie Mae approved projects which is your number 9. I apologize if that caused any confusion!

Aug 05, 2011 08:44 AM
Ray Waisler
Finance of America - Atlanta, GA
NMLS #6621 - Specializing in Jumbo FHA & VA

Andrea - No worries, but my response is pretty much the same since the listing agent typically knows in advance through the management companies and usually would not take the listing if the complex is not warrantable or has a high investor concentration prohibiting financing. When researching it they usually look for the approvals as well. I do have the ability to track the information down, but the information available is not always updated in a timely manner, so I look to save time whenever possible.

Aug 05, 2011 11:52 AM
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 - Silver Spring, MD
Fluent in Real Estate & German, M.A. ABR ASP CIPS

Thanks so much Ray. I've had a hard time trying to get that information through the Association in the past but it's been awhile .. maybe "things" are easier now. I appreciate it tremendously when the LO has all info available and is very responsive, so I try to return the favor to the best of my abilities. Sounds like you are the perfect LO to be working with! Have a great weekend.

Aug 05, 2011 12:15 PM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Ray well well well....another unknown great guy in the AR community (unknown to me anyway!). I am so glad Mona read about you and posted in the BananaTude group. I commend you for calling her and helping her out - that speaks a lot about you.  Come join us in BananaTude!!  We need your excellent posts and of course your fantastic attitude. You are a guy with true TUDE!!

Aug 06, 2011 06:30 AM
Ray Waisler
Finance of America - Atlanta, GA
NMLS #6621 - Specializing in Jumbo FHA & VA

Anna - I would be honored to to join, but I look more like a grapefruit than a banana, LOL. Looking forward to becoming a banana just let me know how I can contribute.

Aug 06, 2011 03:37 PM
Lynn911.com ~ Dallas Real Estate Agent Top Team
Dallas Houses for Rent Dallas Apartment Rentals Lynn911.com - Dallas, TX

GREAT post most don't understand the process for loan approval for any client who has to inspect the records !

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Sep 10, 2011 04:51 AM