Talk may be cheap, but money is not. And you can bet your bottom dollar that most consumers seeking to get a mortgage will shop for the best rate quotes through any number of ways; their local bank, the internet, etc. We will often get requests to match or beat rate quotes as a result. Instead of publishing rates and promising that we’re the cheapest and best source for all rate shoppers, which is something that is frowned upon by the regulators of our industry, I instead want to shed some light on some of the governing principles that guide rate quotes from any and all lending sources. Below are three constants that apply in each case and to all shoppers for all programs.
[Too lazy to read the rest? Watch the rockin’ video below for all the information covered in this blog!]
Follow the Regs
With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Financial Reform Act, the mortgage industry became subjected to the ‘anti-steering provision’ which prevents a mortgage loan originator from earning any more or less in commission depending on the rate charged to the consumer. In short, whether we provide you with a 3%, a 4% or a 5% rate, our compensation is the same. We have no incentive to put you into a program with a higher rate. In fact, you could argue that we have an incentive not to do this. After all, lower rates give an edge in winning rate competition and they bestow more qualifying power on the borrower. But there is an ugly side to the anti-steering provision — the lender’s inability to leverage their compensation to be more competitive. For example, prior to Dodd-Frank, originators had flexibility with their commission. If they needed to cut it in order to win a deal, they could. But now, our regulators say that if we had the ability to charge less to Consumer A, who does a lot of homework and negotiates strongly, what would prevent us from raising our compensation on unsuspecting Consumer B? The ability for us to negotiate is largely a thing of the past. Sure, we can submit for price exceptions on occasion, but they are just that — the exception. And the rule severely limits a lender’s ability to match or beat.
Time Is of the Essence
In real estate, we write “time is of the essence” into our contracts and this philosophy holds true with rates too. Just like the stock and bond markets, rates fluctuate every day and sometimes even multiple times when the markets are especially volatile. So it is vitally important that consumers shop for rates on the same day. A common scenario we see will have a borrower apply for a home loan in, say, January. Maybe they will get all the way to the altar with a pre-approval but then not find a property. During that process, the lender likely quotes a specific rate. Now, fast forward a few months and the borrower is working with a different lender and gets a quote that is higher or lower. This does not necessarily mean that the second lender’s rates are organically any better or worse. It might simply mean that the market has changed during the interim. So, collect your rate quotes on the same day if you’re comparing multiple sources. It may be time-consuming but it’s the only way you can truly be accurate.
The WebMD Syndrome
Lastly, when pitting one source of rates against another, make sure they’re all on equal footing in terms of the depth of the quote. Look at it this way. If you wake up one morning with a rash, you can research your symptoms online and get an idea of your condition. Or you can actually visit your doctor who will do a physical exam, perhaps blood work and then give you a diagnosis. Now you have a choice, you can follow the instruction of the doctor or of the internet. You see where I’m going with this. So too in the field of rate quotes, if you have had a lender pull your credit, review your complete application and provide terms for your loan, placing this on equal footing with an online quote could be risky. Rate quotes for jumbo mortgages are most sensitive to the finer qualifying attributes of the applicant and for this reason, I highly advise those in the jumbo market to get a complete credit approval prior to comparing rates.
I have always believed that an educated and informed consumer is our best client. And this applies to rate shopping as well. I similarly feel we always have a very strong chance of earning business based on available rates so long as quotes are on a level playing field, and getting the shopping public up to speed on this is something I’m very happy to do. If we can help you with your next home mortgage, let me know!
No one wants to be defeated,
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