Chris Griffith: Time zones, online mortgages and Russian roulette


There’s a big difference between inexpensive and a good value where home loans are concerned. Throw in a few dozen flashy ads with teaser interest rates and all the magic the loan officer promises to work for you and let the mortgage cyclone begin.

Getting a mortgage is unsettling for some people. It’s actually a little bit of work to weed through the piles of paperwork and documentation.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very skilled mortgage brokers and loan officers. In spite of the bad press about the mortgage industry, there are some quality folks out there whose main goal is to get families into homes. There’s no subterfuge involved.

When a buyer asks for a local recommendation, there are only a handful of top performers out there I would trust enough to recommend. They’ve been tried and tested and over performed through difficult circumstances as well as the smooth loans.

Odds are that you’ll get a good recommendation from your real estate agent or at least a decent place to start. The name of the game is getting you moved in, so we only want to work with the pros anyway. Most of the former sub-prime specialist, mortgage brokers have moved on and are now riding the gold bubble and throwing broken bracelet house parties, anyway.

I’m still amazed when a buyer goes rogue and starts throwing darts to find a home loan. It’s usually not the kind of rogue where they’ve walked through the doors of a bricks and mortar bank but a “borrowing cashola dot com” crap-shoot that over promises and eventually under performs.

Here’s a little bit of advice for you buyers out there that sidle up to the keyboard looking for blind solutions to one of the largest financial decisions of your life: Prepare for debacle on a cataclysmic scale, book a hotel for the day of closing and don’t show up with your moving truck and the ridiculous notion that you’re even crossing a threshold.

If you’re extremely lucky, whatever puppy mill is processing or underwriting your loan just might even be in the same time zone. If your crap shoot involves Pacific or Mountain time, prepare for the pain of losing two to three hours at each end of the work day with the time differences, alone.

I’ve seen more buyers create their own hostage situation by choosing an unknown, unproven lender for their home purchase. It just doesn’t have to be that painful.

Lending guidelines are stricter than they’ve been in quite some time. As a consumer you need to be able to pick up the phone and have a living, breathing human on the other end of the line with some authority, willing to answer questions and be able to tell you precisely where you’re at in the process.

When your more passive than aggressive underwriter is sleeping in California when the rest of us are trying to help you close on your home, you need to know that there’s a good chance that you’re going to wind up at the inn. They’ll leave the light on for ya.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at

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