Assistant Underwriter

It has been a few days now I have been working for the most part on my own as an assistant underwriter.  While technically I am called a Home Servicing Specialist, it is still an assistant underwriter.  It has turned out to be an eye opener.  I will share a couple of the things I have learned so far.
I sit between the assistant underwriters and the validators.  Validators are those who take the loans that come through a system of basically computer underwriting.  You put your information into a computer and it recommends the program and loan for you.  These validators then take the information you put into the system and make sure it is accurate and the computer recommended the right things.  With loans from a few thousand to millions, we cannot take the chance there is fraud or computer malfunction.  After a loan comes in from either a broker or online, people take a good look at the information.  We have to verify the identity of the person to eliminate fraud.  Everything from SSN checks to personally calling the employer to verify your employment.  There are even hotlines where we can call to verify the account information you provided is accurate and the account is active.
The underwriter or validators then place conditions on the loan after verifying the program and information for the assistant underwriters to do more homework in question areas of a loan.  Often a title is not present yet, or a purchase agreement, or flood certification, or hazard insurance, or an appraisal, or all sorts of other things.  We have to keep reminding people we need these things and when they come in to check and verify them as well.  Sometimes we need bank statements, w-2’s, paystubs, gift letters, canceled checks, letters of explanations, and so forth.  We keep on the brokers and clients until we have all the satisfactory requirements fulfilled.
In working with some of these people, I already have learned you can take very few at their word.  If they say they faxed it in, they may have, but it is just a ploy to get you off the phone and then they will fax it, if they remember.  If there is really something questionable going on then those people will make up the most random on the spot explanation.  You then ask for documentation to check their statements and something totally different comes in.  You go back and they tell you a whole new variation with the new information.  On and on it goes until you either get the real story or the loan is declined.  I am sure some loans go through under less than honest situations and we just can’t catch them.  There are some good liars out there.
When large amounts of money are included people will say anything to make it happen.
I do not wish to say all or even most of the people I associate with on the phones are dishonest, but there are a few that instantly you can smell a rat.  I feel like an investigator in many ways as I have to keep asking the questions and looking for the evidence.
Many of the documents don’t meet a certain standard.  The address is a little funny, the person has had a name change, they are not citizens yet, a paystub has some information written in, etc.  So we have to add another condition that clarifies or confirms what the applicant is stating.
One thing is for sure generally, most people procrastinate!  In the loan business and when large amounts of money are involved, people get very, very angry when their procrastination costs them.  For the broker it can be a change in rate, or the ire of the applicant, or delay in payment.  For the applicant it can mean a few more days in a hotel, debts waiting a little longer from a cash out, and more.  I just don’t understand how they can think I am going to stay at work after five to review the five documents they just sent in.  Especially when it is 5 now and they know the deadline was at 1.  Boy oh boy do they yell and scream when you tell them that we just will have to reschedule the closing and delivery of the loan.
The best part is those who have sob stories.  “This family has been living in a hotel for the past month with three kids and the mother swears she will kill them and us…”  “He needs to pay off his wife’s doctor bills so she can continue her treatment”  It makes you sound mean, but please.
One broker I notified I needed to prove his clients assets from statements and verification of deposit.  I let him know this on Monday.  On Wednesday when the deadline had arrived for his loan, he then goes on to tell me the client has been shipped out with the Navy.  I remind him that his wife probably still receives the mail and the client even has a Power of Attorney.  Well if I didn’t get a good yelling.  This broker had the nerve to send a supervisor to the next two tiers of management against me.
Heaven will certainly fall if I ever procrastinate in relation to anything for them though.  A document will show up in my system at 1:00 and by 1:15 I have somebody calling me to know if I have looked at it.  No, I have not.  I will look at the other 4 loans I have in my queue first that are closer to deadline.  I can’t tell them that, other than I will get to it as soon as I can.  Some brokers I have already learned their phone number they call me so often and I know not to answer.  Relax people, if you quit calling me I can work on the file and look at your document.  When everyone keeps calling me it means I spend time on the phone and not on your files.
This job requires a maximum capacity at multi-tasking.  If this is any indicator, I have two computer screens I use all day long.  I have my document viewer I keep track of new documents, read and approve others.  I have my e-mail that I need to keep up on at all times.  I have my data entry system for which I keep track of conditions and enter information.  I have a system that is open which is constantly tracking my clear to close loans, loans for delivery, and loans for closing.  There is the system that then keeps track of my pipeline, to let me know which loans are mine and how long they have been in the system.  On top of that, I have my web browsers which I check for ineligible appraisers, community identification and development, whitepages for addresses and phone numbers, and whatever else I need.  The entire policy and procedure guide is online and must be checked from time to time.  That is just work.  I like to keep my personal e-mail open just in case something comes in I need to take care of in relation to Elder’s Quorum or who knows what else.
So I have a half dozen things open and working at the same time and then I have people who want to call and ask a question or make a demand.  Surely I would not be so unkind as to put them on hold so I can at least get to a point where I can drop everything I am doing to switch whichever system I need to work on their problem.  For example, if I am working on an appraisal, I am working on most of the systems.  If someone calls, I have to drop what I am doing and then back out of one or two systems for them.  Then when I can go back to the appraisal, I have to take both systems back to where I was and then pick up where I left off.  Sometimes too much time elapses and I haven’t a clue what I was doing and have to back up the appraisal to a point I know I completed.
I like fast pace jobs, and this is certainly one of them.  There is not a dull moment.  There is always something to do.  I get so into work and am so busy that to take off lunch seems like such an interruption.  I typically take lunch at my desk and eat as I go.  Most people do.  The time away from the desk and what you were doing is often too long that everything gets backed up.  If I take a full hour for lunch, I may return to 10 to 20 e-mails most of which need to be addressed.  Where if I just keep plugging along I can take care of them quickly.  It is like the old blond joke, “why don’t they let blonds take breaks?  Because it takes too long to retrain them!”  It seems to hold a certain amount of truth in this situation.
Things have been hectic because a couple of people are on vacation this week meaning we are overloaded.  By the time 5 rolls around I don’t feel like I have made much of a dent.  But typically I would be caught up and feeling pretty good about life.  There will always be those who say they faxed me at 10 and it will suddenly arrive at 4:30 that won’t be caught up, but that is their problem, not mine.
This in many ways is a job I really enjoy.  I sit down and before I know it the entire day has passed.  I can look over at WIT and see that I gave 6 clear to close, scheduled another 6, and put another dozen into pending documents status.
I am very much enjoying my job at Bank of America.  The pay is good enough for me too.  I wouldn’t mind more, but I am happy.  I am somewhat sad this will probably be only a year.  Certainly it is a good learning experience and I this education will come in handy all my life.
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