Joe Caltabiano is a senior vice president of mortgage
lending and a top-producing loan officer for Guaranteed
Rate. Headquartered in Chicago with approximately
170 offices across the U.S. and licensed in all 50 states,
Guaranteed Rate is one of the 10 largest retail mortgage
companies in the U.S. and offers industry-leading
self-service tools and low-rate, low-fee mortgages
through an easy-to-understand process and unparalleled customer service.
Reach Caltabiano at Joe@guaranteedrate.com.
Although many mortgage professionals are trained on the sales techniques, processes, programs and
financial laws surrounding lending,
few are taught that the closing of a
loan is just as important as sourcing
business itself. It’s not uncommon
for mortgage professionals to become preoccupied either
with sourcing new business or with other loans already in
process. As their energy and attention are directed at supporting and growing this pipeline, these professionals consequently miss the mark at the closing table.
Closing a purchase transaction can be a stressful time for
all parties involved. The closing is a critical time in the process
and requires the utmost in organization and accuracy. What
many mortgage professionals fail to understand is that the
closing is an opportunity to seal the deal for referral business
from all of the other parties involved in the transaction. The
closing table, in other words, is an opportunity to gain a solid
reputation with these potential partners, and every mort-
gage professional should take this opportunity seriously.
A botched closing can tarnish your reputation with your
borrowers, sellers, Realtors and attorneys, not to mention the
dozen other people involved who will also know about your
sub-par service. In the end, one bad closing experience can
cost you an innumerable amount of deals down the road.
Customer service is another concern. As a mortgage pro-
fessional, you have to decide what kind of customer service will
brand your business — a business that is essentially comprised
of you and your service. In today’s mortgage climate, potential
borrowers are looking for superior customer service and low
fees. You must be the knowledgeable, responsible, straight-
forward professional that borrowers want and need.
Every veteran mortgage professionals has heard stories
from borrowers about last-minute conditions, delayed wires
and surprise fees. Interestingly, the stories seem to stay the
same; as the years have passed, veteran mortgage profession-
als will tell you that they continue to hear the same anecdotes
time and time again.
Mortgage professionals must understand that the market
has evolved. In order to survive and realize success, you must
offer a top-notch customer experience throughout the entire
loan process. A smooth closing is as important as any other
aspect of the loan file; a flawless closing provides your
borrower with a capstone of exceptional customer service.
Once you realize the full importance of a smooth closing,
where do you begin to ensure that your closings are as strong
and as smooth as they can be? It’s the mortgage professional’s
job to get the team on board with all the necessary details.
A deal’s Realtor, attorney and borrower should be in con-
stant communication to avoid closing-table challenges.
To ensure a successful closing, mortgage brokers and origi-
nators should focus on three things:
Limiting last-minute conditions: A true mortgage pro-
fessional will ensure that a loan is cleared to close well
before the actual day of closing. Requesting last-minute
documents from the borrower to clear a condition creates
more stress for your client and for the other parties involved
in the transaction. Properly managing your approvals is
critical. Aside from the additional stress that last-minute
conditions can create, this sort of situation conveys a sense
of poor processing and planning.
Managing bottom-line expectations: Although certain
forms from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development are not typically available until several days
before closing, managing your borrowers’ expectations
is essential. Giving borrowers an estimated bottom-line
at least 48 hours before closing will allow them to arrange
for a wire transfer or cashier’s check.
Keeping the borrower informed about fees: Reviewing
fees — or even estimates — with a borrower two to three
days before closing will eliminate any unpleasant surprises
at the closing table. Although borrowers are informed of
fees at the start of the process, a fee refresher just before
closing can ensure that your clients fully understand what
will be coming their way.
n n n
Every closing is different, and as such, there are many fac-
tors that are out of your control that can cause deals to blow
up or result in a less-than-smooth closing. That said, taking
control of your team and creating clarity regarding all fees and
transaction details can help you clinch a smooth closing — and
gain several sources for referral business along the way.
In light of this, mortgage professionals should strive to
monitor the timeliness of their closings, ensuring that the
buyer, seller and other professionals involved in the transac-
tion are able to complete their sale or purchase with as little
anxiety as possible. Even though there are many details
involved in the closing process, the keys for a successful
closing all stem from a team effort that’s designed to achieve
clear, direct communication between Realtors, attorneys,
borrowers and mortgage professionals. •
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