Neuswanger: Getting a mortgage during the crisis |

Neuswanger: Getting a mortgage during the crisis

Although restrictions are easing and life is starting to return to some degree of normal here in Eagle County, we are all likely to have to maintain some degree of social distancing for some time to come, and many homeowners and buyers are wondering just how all of this has impacted the mortgage process.

Mortgage lenders have been deemed essential businesses and many prepared for months before there were any shutdown orders. Home offices were established for workers, networks beefed up and new rules seemed to appear daily particularly in terms of dealing with borrowers who were suddenly unemployed or owned businesses that were closed.

In terms of a “touchless” loan process, mortgage lenders have pretty well got that down. We can accept loan applications and disclosures that are e-signed. Supporting documentation can be sent via secure email or drop box.

In many cases we are now allowed to do exterior-only appraisals, meaning the appraiser does not enter your home. There are protocols being developed for homeowners to supply the appraiser with photos of different areas of the home to determine the interior condition and upgrades. Not all loans will accept an exterior appraisal — it is case by case and generally must be accompanied by a request from the homeowner that he does not want the appraiser in the house due to health concerns.

The only area that still requires some degree of personal contact is the actual loan closing as final documents usually have to be wet signed and notarized. While a typical loan or purchase closing in the past was a celebratory event (and one of the aspects I really enjoyed about my job as a loan originator), closings today are far different.

Typically, I will wet sign any documents that require my signature outside of the sit-down closing to allow for more social distancing. If it’s a purchase, the real estate agent will also sign their documents beforehand. The client will be asked to wear a face-covering and, prior to arrival, the closing table will be sanitized. The closer (wearing a mask) will give the client a stack of documents to sign and sit at least 6 feet across the room while they are signed. Upon completion, everyone will say goodbye from a distance and the closer will collect the documents and notarize them and handle the paperwork to wrap it all up.

Unfortunately, this is part of the new reality we will all live in for months to come. Real estate deals will get done and refinances will close and the industry has prepared itself well for moments like these. What is missing is the camaraderie of my clients, broker friends and I accomplishing a joint goal and wrapping it all up at the closing table.

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