If I had a quarter for every time I had a client say, “If only I knew” – I would have a lot of quarters, and then some. I was actually planning on writing about a different topic, but after I received a call from a second client this week that used this expression, I could not pass up on sharing this experience.
The first call that I received was from a cheerful client that was extremely thankful and appreciative about the mortgage he just got from us. He could not stop raving about one of my employees who went above and beyond in making the experience as painless as possible. He admitted to me that he was expecting ‘a disaster’, and was already planning for worse-case contingencies after speaking with me. He had recently been turned down for a purchase loan with his personal bank, as well as with a friend in the business – but then was referred to me. He candidly admitted that after a few calls with one another, my blatant confidence in getting the loan for him made him optimistic - but extremely nervous. He was intrigued but highly skeptical. He noted that I was “too calm, and too sure” that I would be able to do it, despite his recent denials elsewhere.
I won’t go into the details of his scenario, because that is off topic for this article – although it would make for a great read for another time. The reason I bring it up is because as he was thanking me for all of our hard work in getting his loan closed, and helping him buy this much needed home, he ended the remarks with, “Are you ready for the next one?”. I wasn’t sure if he was joking or what he really had in mind, so I ignored the comment the first time, but had to stop in my tracks when he persisted. He wasn’t joking at all, and in fact wanted to cash-out some of the down payment money that he just invested into the house to buy it just days before.
I was sure that I was missing something, so had him start over and clarify exactly what he meant. No, I heard it correctly ... he wanted to get part of his equity out. In this particular situation, he had purchased a home for close to a million dollars, and only got a mortgage for about half of it. That’s a significant down payment, and plenty of equity; However, this was the first I was hearing of such a thought-process. Mind you, we spent a lot of time on the phone those first few days trying to get his precise details, issues and objectives, to get the loan done properly in the first place.
Without sounding disrespectful I tried asking why this matter never came up before, and if he ever alluded to this plan during our conversations. He acknowledged that he never brought it up, or remotely hinted at the notion because he was too worried about being approved in the first place. I explained to him that it would be a lot easier to pre-pay the loan if he took out too much of a mortgage, than to pull out more money if he took out too little of a loan. Unfortunately, in this case, taking out more money would need to be done via a whole refinance or by taking out a home equity loan – both of which he would not be eligible for. I was more devastated than he was because I could have easily given him a larger mortgage days before. For what seemed like a few moments, there was dead silence on the phone. His next words were, “If only I knew”. I felt bad, I really did – I gave him some alternatives, but regrettably, we will need to wait until April before we can revisit his situation.
A few days later, I received a call from a past-client that I had been speaking with about a potential refinance since the summer. He was finally ready to move forward with the refinance we had been discussing, because he just switched firms and had a pay stub that he could provide to me. I knew nothing about him switching companies, and told him that I never told him the refinance needed to wait for that. Unfortunately, despite several of my email and text reminders to him that rates were on the move higher, at this point it was too late. His only response was, “If only I knew”… The lesson I want to convey here is that when working with a “trustworthy professional” your trust in them is crucial – otherwise find someone you can fully trust.
Shout-out and best birthday wishes to my daughter Tamar – Happy Birthday!
By Shmuel Shayowitz