Get One Step Ahead in Home Buying!


Join us to learn from Mortgage Loan Officer Reneé Ziska about why the key to a pain-free home buying experience starts with having all the right paperwork ready upfront.



0:00:06.5 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Hi, I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson, with Consumers Credit Union, and we have everything from finance to fitness. And today, it’s part two of our series on homeownership. I’ll tell you, it is the hottest season right now, and people have looked at their homes during the pandemic, and they thought either A, I’m going to fix it up or B, I need one that I can feel really comfortable in. Joining us today is an expert, a mortgage loan officer with us at Consumers Credit Union, Renée Ziska. Hi, how are you today?

0:00:36.0 Renée Ziska: Hi. Doing well. How are you today, Lynne?

0:00:37.8 LJJ: Well, I’ll tell you, I’m doing really well. I know you are taking time out of your extremely busy schedule, and I don’t say that lightly because you have been working almost 24/7.

0:00:50.0 RZ: It’s been fun though, but yeah, it’s a quick-moving market and very busy, so yeah.

0:00:56.4 LJJ: Do me a favor and let’s back up a little bit and explain to me what is a mortgage loan officer, and how is it that you get involved when it’s time for someone, if they’re ready to shop for a new home.

0:01:08.0 RZ: Yeah, so I see myself as the liaison between all of the people involved in this process, between your realtor, the title company, and then you’re going to hear about folks in the backside, processors and underwriters. And I’m the person that is really the cheerleader for the buyer, the borrower to say, “I’ve got you. I’m going to let you know when we need something. I’m going to communicate all these things and get us through this wild process as painlessly and as quickly as possible.” We always love when we can get that pre-approval process started earliest in the process. I think it’s going to make you a more competitive buyer, if you are well prepared and already have your pre-approval with your lender and you’re not missing any time, which is so valuable right now, in this market.

0:01:57.0 LJJ: And explain why that is the case? I have heard and I have known people who have put offers in on four or five houses and they’re not getting them, or it’s an offer process that is, we’re getting them all in one day, we open them up and we make a decision. It’s just crazy.

0:02:13.5 RZ: It’s wild, and we haven’t seen activity, not quite like this in a long, long time, so it’s definitely a seller’s market. And I think it’s just more so… So, we’ve got many things at play, many things. Rates are still remarkably low. You can still borrow money for very cheaply. That’s driving a lot of first-time buyers, who are seeing that their rent prices are going up and that it might be more affordable to own your home and pay a mortgage. So, we’ve got that, and then just also the availability of rental homes has gone down, and people are being forced into the market. Luckily, we are seeing some folks move up, so we’re starting to see more, especially first-time home buyer market. We starting to see more of those homes come available, but we’re hearing and seeing lots of offers and trying to find little ways to set ourselves apart when you’re up against 10, 10 or 12 offers on a home. What’s going to make you stand out?

0:03:13.7 RZ: And that’s going to be that pre-approval letter. That’s going to be having a strong loan officer. I hear time and time again how valuable it is to have a local lender, because when you’re a local lender, you’re just afforded some of the knowledge that we have on how things move around here. You have relationships that you’ve built with the title companies and with appraisers and with all of the different roles in this process, and it helps. So yeah. So, it’s a wild market. We’re hearing lots of lots of activity. Just keep trying to tell folks, “Hang in there. I know it’s tough. The right house will come along. The right offer will get accepted at some point, but just don’t get too discouraged too easily and be ready to make quick decisions.” I think the hardest part is having to make quick decisions right now, when really you’d love to be able to sleep on it. Right, Lynne?

0:04:05.3 LJJ: Right.

0:04:06.5 RZ: You want to be able to sleep on, cause, “Is this really the house for me?” And you can’t. You just, it’s not the market for it right now.

0:04:09.6 LJJ: You mentioned that the mortgage loan officer is the glue really, that is bringing everybody together and then helping the buyer or the seller make sure that they have all the paperwork and all the things that they need, which can be very overwhelming. At Consumers, we have on what we love, which during the pandemic especially, has been so helpful, which is our Fast App mortgage, and that is the process that allows people to upload the actual documents and see exactly where they are in the process, or that pre-approval as you mentioned. Tell us about the paperwork that is needed that someone… So that everybody knows, “Okay, here’s what I must have when it’s time for me to get ready to get pre-approved. Pre-approvals are critical in a hot market. What is it that helps everybody win? What is the paperwork that we need?

0:05:02.9 RZ: I try to put myself in the shoes as a seller. If I were selling my home, what will I have wanted somebody to have verified about my potential buyer? So, largely that’s going to be credit, which is a part of the Fast App, and also then income and asset documentation. Does this individual qualify based on pay stubs, W-2s, maybe tax returns? So that’s why I like to have that Fast App in front of me, because what I do from there is I’m able to create a custom list for my borrower to say, “This is exactly what I need. I’m going to pare it down a little because I don’t want everything that I would need from everybody, but I’m going to make a custom list for you that says, that’s manageable and says, ‘This is exactly what I need.'” It’s often, most often pay stubs, like I said, W-2s, tax returns. Then we’re also going to want to have to verify, going to need to verify your source of down payment and is it from a qualifying source. Are we going to have any hoops to jump through for underwriting based on what I’m seeing about your source of down payment? And so, having all of that done, prior to you making an offer, the more work you do up front, the easier your entire process is going to be. It’s almost like getting it all set up and then sailing it on down a river and letting it just do its thing. And ideally, it just finds its way home.

0:06:24.4 LJJ: So, if you’re a first-time home buyer, you’ve been renting, how is it that the process… Do you get rental history? What is there if you’ve never had a home before?

0:06:35.7 RZ: Yeah. So, we are definitely going to look at that. Sometimes we’re seeing that management companies are reporting that on credit reports, which is lovely, because then you have that history and it also helps them, they’ve got the benefit of that for the last year or two. Otherwise, yeah, we do have to verify that you’ve made timely payments and that you don’t owe for the last years of rent. So, what we’ll do is… You can do that a couple of different ways, either by documentation that you can provide that supports as you’ve made your payments often with canceled checks or bank statements, or we have a form that your landlord or management company can complete and then we’ll just ask them, “Have they made timely payments? Are they in arrears?” And so, it’s going to prove ultimately your creditworthiness.

0:07:14.7 LJJ: Now, you mentioned pre-approval and the documentation that’s needed before you get pre-approval. What actually is that? When you say you’re pre-approved, is it a letter that you show? Is it documentation that you show to the buyer or to your realtor?

0:07:29.5 RZ: Yeah, so in my mind, the pre-approval is much more than just a letter. As your loan officer, a good loan officer is going to provide you with more tools than just a pre-approval letter. A pre-approval letter is an actual letter that says, “So and so is approved for this dollar amount.” Oftentimes, they’ll put the address on there, and so you present that with your offer to support that somebody has actually vetted you and has shown that you qualify based on documentation of assets and income and that kind of thing. It’s still subject to needing to appraise and get through underwriting, but it shows that we’ve done a good amount of due diligence and make sure that you meet certain criteria in order to qualify, and then therefore a seller can accept your offer.

0:08:09.5 RZ: Like I said, a good loan officer prepares more than just that for you, so you should also get some numbers to start working with and playing with and tweaking of, “What is really expected of me out of pocket? And at what point am I going to have these funds due?” Additionally, the other thing that I like to provide is that custom list of like, “This is what I need now, and then this is what I need at the moment that you have a signed contract.” Cause that’s really the next trigger in my process, is you’re going to get pre-approved, you’re going to make some… Hopefully make one offer and it’s accepted, and then once you have that accepted offer, it’s green light, go. That’s when I’m going to need the rest of what I need on my checklist, and some signatures from you, and then we can move that part of the process forward.

0:08:51.5 LJJ: So, Renée, have you found that… Is there anything that always becomes… Not always, but maybe the majority of the time… Becomes like an aha moment for a potential home buyer, that they just go, “Oh, I wasn’t even thinking about that”? And yet your checklist… And it’s almost like handholding, saying, “These are the things… No surprises. We don’t want surprises.”

0:09:13.3 RZ: And that’s why it’s still valuable to have that Fast App, cause it does that full deep dive look to say that I’m anticipating everything that’s going to be necessary. I think that for some folks, the amount of paperwork that we ultimately end up working through can sometimes be like not necessarily an aha moment, but like this is normal, and it is. It’s normal that we’re going to need all of these things, and I tell people the quicker that you can get that document to me, if you wait a day to give that to me, we lose a day in the process. So when I need something, I’m going to be reaching out and I’m going to ask for you to act very quickly to get that to me, so that we can keep it moving.

0:09:56.8 RZ: This is also another thing that I come across a lot is, is that we need all pages of documents and actual bank statements, and so there’s a lot of different things that you can grab from the Internet that seem like, “Well, why wouldn’t that be sufficient? What does this underwriter need from me? Why would they need that?” But there is a reason. There is a reason behind it. And so just trust that when we need something to move things along in the process, it’s best if we get full documentation and promptly. And then, of course, signatures along the way. And the other thing that I hear often from first-time home buyers is, it’ll be like at first when your offer’s coming together, that everybody’s pulling at you. Your realtor’s pulling at you, your homeowner’s insurance, and you’ve got to pull all this stuff together, and then all of a sudden it goes quiet. And they kind of are like, well…

0:10:45.5 LJJ: And you’re panicked.

0:10:47.4 RZ: “Is somebody need something?” And so, yeah, I get these emails of like, “Okay, are you sure there’s nothing right now?” And I’m like, “No, this is the good part. This is like literally no news is good news. Sit tight because I got you. I’m going to be talking to you at least once a week to let you know what I need, if I need or what’s going to happen next, but if I’m not pulling something from you, that’s a good sign.”

0:11:06.3 LJJ: It just sounds to me like that communication is absolutely critical in the loan officers that you choose, the realtors that you choose. Absolutely critical.

0:11:17.3 RZ: Yep. I don’t think that there’s any true over-communication. I don’t think you can over-communicate during this process with as many moving parts as there are and as many rules as there are, and everybody has got a role in it.

0:11:28.0 LJJ: And I love the fact that you bring up the point of, “It’s okay to ask questions.” If you have a question, ask the question. Don’t lose sleep at night. [chuckle]

0:11:39.1 RZ: And that’s why I tell people I’m like, “You know what, I sleep better knowing that you’ve got your questions answered, even if you’ve asked me four times already. Sometimes just the terminology alone helps to hear it be said more than once and in a different way.”

0:11:52.4 LJJ: Well, Renée, thank you so much for your time. Obviously, if you’re listening in and you know someone that is searching for a home right now, it is a very busy time, and the more that you are ready in the front, the better that you’re going to be when that offer is accepted. So, this is very exciting. Thanks, Renée.

0:12:12.4 RZ: Same. Thanks, Lynne. Have a great day.

0:12:14.8 LJJ: You too. Money, I’m Home. Thank you so much Jake Esselink for your production skills. If you have a topic that you’d be interested in or you’d like a house and you want to get rocking on the Fast App, please download it, because you can then link to Renée or any one of our absolutely phenomenal mortgage loan officers to get you on the road. Thank you so much for joining us today. Have a wonderful day. Money, I’m Home, with Consumers Credit Union.



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