Justin Buck and Paige Nigh were on their third offer. They had put in two others for South Boston condos they liked, but no luck.
“[We] were outbid on both,’’ Buck said, so when it came time to make their third offer, their realtor suggested they include a personal letter.
“She just knew that we were in love with it. She was like ‘OK, you love this place, so this is what you need to do,’ ’’ Nye said.
She also had them include a photo of themselves (they chose a nice one of them dressed up at a wedding), and they kept their note short and sweet, talking a little bit about how they met, explaining that they had recently moved in together, and emphasizing that the place “would be ideal for the next chapter in our relationship.’’
It seemed to work.
“There were four final offers all above asking price but around the same price,’’ Buck said, “but we were the only ones to include this biography, and from what [our realtor] gathered, it was a deciding factor.’’
While the strategy seems enticing, the result does not appear to be typical.
There’s not much hard data about the effects of a personal letter, though in 2013, when the housing market was making its way back to prerecession levels, the home-buying website Redfin said the personal letter improved an offer’s success by 9 percent. (An all-cash offer, by comparison, increased the likelihood of acceptance to 28 percent.) So perhaps a letter could be one of the tools buyers use in seller’s markets as a way to make themselves stand out.
“I think it’s definitely helpful, depending on the seller,’’ said Buck and Nye’s realtor, Susan Doig.
“A lot of agents think it’s a waste of time, think it doesn’t work. I think that’s bad,’’ said Brendon DeSimone, brokerage manager for Houlihan Lawrence in Bedford, N.Y., and author of “Next Generation Real Estate: New Rules for Smarter Home Buying & Faster Selling.’’ “It’s a competitive market; if it gives you an edge, do it,’’ DeSimone said.
But not everyone feels that way.
“It could work against them,’’ said Christine Smith, a realtor with Haverhill-based Buyers Brokers Only and a lawyer. “Say they got their offer accepted and they wrote this lovely letter, and then they do a home inspection and find a couple things they want the seller to address. Not little things. The seller knows how much they want the house, and it kind of weakens [the buyers’] position.’’
Smith also posits that the exchange of personal information in the letter could be a violation of fair housing laws. Those laws prohibit discrimination against protected classes of people, discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, and familial status.
What if a couple without kids and a couple with them have similar offers and both write letters, she asked. If the sellers pick the buyers with children, are they discriminating against the couple without them?
This is a matter of debate among real estate agents, but Michael McDonagh, general counsel for the Massachusetts Association of Realtors, said he understands a buyer’s need to tell his or her story. “But I think there should be some caution there,’’ he said. “It’s not a good position to be in if you’re a seller. You don’t want anyone to accuse you of making your decision to sell to somebody based on their status in a protected class.’’
Matt Ramey, associate broker with Jacob Realty in Back Bay, doesn’t necessarily see anything wrong with writing a letter, but he isn’t wild about them. “I tell my buyers that the letter is a component, but it’s not a strategy. It certainly doesn’t hurt, but at the end of the day the dollars speak the most,’’ he said.
David Hollady, a former client of Ramey’s, agrees, but he also had a letter work out very much in his favor.
David and his wife, Nikki, bought homes in Boston and in Chicago a year and a half apart. (Nikki works in Chicago and David in Boston, so they split time between the cities.) They wrote letters for both. They had the highest offer on their Boston home and could close quickly, so the letter didn’t really seem like a factor. But when they were trying to acquire the Chicago property, Nikki wrote a letter to the elderly man who had raised his family in the home, telling him that she had grown up in that city and that they planned to raise a family there.
They beat out a cash offer. “There is no reason why we should have gotten that house, but it was because my wife wrote that letter,’’ David said.
Ramey said that’s the only time he’s heard of that happening.
Both Ramey and Doig said people with an emotional connection to their home, like an older seller who raised a family in a house, would be the rare kind of seller who would put sentiment ahead of cash.
Getting personal could also work against you.
If the seller is in the middle of a divorce or dealing with the recent death of a relative, he or she might not want to hear about your happy family. “It can backfire if the seller feels the buyer is trying to manipulate them,’’ said Lisa Steele, a realtor with Steele Associates Real Estate in East Dennis. Recently, a buyer submitted one with an offer, and although it was a lovely letter, Steele said, “the seller knew the offer was the only thing that mattered and brushed off the note completely.’’
And if it’s a bank-owned property, DeSimone said, don’t even bother writing a letter: “The bank isn’t a person. They don’t care.’’
And Ramey said: “There are more important things than a sentimental letter. Show your financial qualifications, show that you are serious about the house, then try and sprinkle a little emotion onto it with a letter if you want.’’
“You just really never know what [sellers] think of your life or what they think of their life that they’re moving on from.’’
If a buyer wants to write a letter, she encourages them to talk only about the house and the neighborhood, adding in a compliment or two. She will also pass on information about the buyers she represents at their request, but she said she tries not to let too much personal information get in the way of what is a business transaction. When she is representing the sellers, she paraphrases the buyers’ information so that she isn’t revealing anything about race or marital status.
But for someone for whom a letter worked, revealing personal details seems like a risk worth taking.
“I told [my wife] it was a crazy idea,’’ David Hollady said. “I told her that we shouldn’t even bother. We had an FHA loan, and who would even consider that?
“Not for the last time, I was wrong.’’
There are a lot of people involved in helping a borrower successfully secure a mortgage, but one of the most important individuals in the process is the mortgage loan originator. What exactly does a mortgage loan originator do? In this post, we’ll explore the duties of a mortgage loan originator and explain what qualities a good mortgage loan originator should have.
In simplest terms, a mortgage loan originator (aka mortgage loan officer, loan officer, LO, etc.) is typically an individual who works with a borrower to complete a mortgage transaction. The mortgage loan originator/officer is usually the borrower’s main point of contact throughout the entire home loan process.
To delve a little deeper into what a mortgage loan originator does, you can take a peek at this sample job description from popular job searching site, Monster.com:
“Mortgage Loan Officer Job Responsibilities:
Increases mortgage loan portfolio by developing business contracts; attracting mortgage customers; completing mortgage loan processing and closing; supervising staff.”
Keep in mind that the example above is just a sample, and depending on the company, certain duties may not be required. Likewise, there may be duties not listed in the example above that an LO would be responsible for.
A few common duties performed by mortgage loan originators include but are not limited to…
Interviewing mortgage applicants Analyzing and screening preliminary loan requests Gather background financial information Submit loan applications for processing Monitor loan progress from application to closing
Aside from simply being able to complete the necessary tasks associated with processing a mortgage, a good mortgage loan originator should posses certain characteristics to help them and their borrowers succeed.
First and foremost, LOs should maintain industry standards of honesty and integrity. Even with all the recent improvements in borrower protection, it can still be possible to work with an unscrupulous lender. The best way to ensure you’re working with a good LO is to do a little homework on him/her or their company. Check their rating with the Better Business Bureau, ask for references from previous clients, read online testimonials and most importantly, go with your instinct. Once you meet with the LO, you will most likely be able to get a sense of their work ethic and determine whether or not you will work compatibly together.
Loan originators should also be good with dealing with the public, as they have to work one-on-one with all sorts of borrowers from all walks of life. In addition, good LOs will want to develop new business opportunities whenever possible, so they will actively work to develop a rapport with real estate agents, property appraisers and attorneys. The more an LO does this, the more their reputation grows.
At Premiere Morgage, we’ve spent close to 21 years developing a reputation as a leader in residential mortgage lending. Our certified loan officers are some of the best in the industry. If you’d like to learn more about our company and our selection of loan products, feel free to reach out to us today. Simply call toll-free at 978-422-2311 or send resume to email@example.com
The following are steps you can take to become a loan officer.
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Although loan officers need at least a high school diploma, advanced positions such as commercial loan officers will require a bachelor's degree in economics, finance, business or other related fields. Pursuing a degree in one of these fields can prepare a commercial loan officer for analyzing the finances of a business, reading financial statements and understanding principles of business accounting. Coursework for these programs typically includes accounting, mathematics, finance, economic statistics and business statistics.
Since loan officers must be able to clearly answer any questions customers may have and guide them through the loan application process, excellent interpersonal and communication skills are needed to be successful in this position. While in school, you can take advantage of courses in communications, public speaking and psychology.
Step 2: Gain the Necessary Work Experience
For many employers hiring loan officers, previous experience is highly preferred. This is especially true for individuals who do not have a bachelor's degree and are seeking employment out of high school. Aspiring loan officers can establish themselves in the field by seeking employment in a variety of settings, including customer service, banking, and sales.
Step 3: Complete On-The-Job-Training
Participating in on-the-job-training is a requirement for individuals, regardless of what degree they hold. The type of training received can vary depending on the work setting and may include a combination of informal training and company-sponsored training. Some training with specific software may be included as well, particularly for those involved in underwriting.
Step 4: Obtain Licensure
All mortgage loan officers must be licensed as a mortgage loan originator (MLO). This process involves completing 20 hours of required coursework, passing an exam and a credit and background check. The MLO exam contains a national component and a state component that is unique for each state.
Step 5: Become Certified
Although certification is not a requirement for loan officers, obtaining certification may improve employment prospects. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and American Bankers Association (ABA) offer opportunities for becoming certified. A few certifications offered by the ABA include certified financial marketing professional (CFMP), certified lender business banker (CLBB), and certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA). The MBA offers a variety of certification options for mortgage bankers, including commercial, residential, executive and master. These credentials require a minimum amount of work experience, successful completion of an examination, and the completion of continuing education courses.
Completion of continuing education credits is needed to maintain an MLO license, which must be renewed on a yearly basis. This typically requires the completion of eight hours of continuing education courses each year. Other requirements may vary by state. Certifications offered by the ABA are usually renewed every three years. The renewal process will vary and may include completing continuing education credits, paying an annual fee, and adhering to the Institute of Certified Bankers' Professional Code of Ethics. CMB designations offered by the MBA must be renewed every two years. Earning five points of continuing education activities is required to maintain certification. This can be accomplished by completing coursework offered by the MBA, participating on committees, or attending conferences and conventions.