In our last article, we talked about how physicians face more challenges and have a higher rate of underwriter decline than any other professional client we advise. Here is a summary of the first 3 Steps from Part 1:
- Choose a Mortgage Professional Who Can Educate and Truly Guide You
- Verify Your Lender’s Reputation
- Obtain a Credit and Income Approval
There are a few more things you can do to ensure the rest of your transaction is flawless.
4. Carefully Select Your Realtor
This is preferably not just someone who’s qualified in helping the average person move across town. You are looking for someone with relocation, ideally physician relocation, experience. You should be able to find such Realtors through an online search, via referral from the medical department you are joining, from a colleague who has recently relocated to the area or through a referral from a loan officer specializing in physicians. [Editor's Note: Remember there is no Stark Law in financial services. Most relationships between financial professionals involve “business relationships” i.e. financial conflicts of interest. That doesn't mean the referral isn't the very best possible person to help you, but you should be aware of the conflict.]
If you can’t find a realtor with experience with physician relocation, then the next best thing is a realtor who specializes in relocation because that person will have a little more specialized knowledge of the potential pitfalls and be attuned to serving clients remotely.
Remember, the timing of your employment contract start date, relocation and remote closing all add complexity to the transaction. The realtor who is the biggest short sale or foreclosure specialist in the county might be capable of doing amazing things for his short sale clients and may sell more homes than anyone. But that same busy realtor, if not experienced in the nuances of relocation, is more likely to forget the remote closing timeline and leave you keyless on move-in day. I see it much more frequently than anyone would like.
A great realtor will map out the transaction with you, pull out a sheet of paper and talk through all the dates with you and map out the transaction. That way when they are structuring the offer and the deadlines, everything flows and matches, so you don’t get to the end of the deadline, and realize your family is homeless for two weeks because of a delay on the seller’s side or because the Realtor and loan officer were not in communication about when your loan could close.
5. Stay in Communication
Make sure everyone is on the same page and has the same dates in mind for the loan approval, wiring of closing funds, loan document signing and move-in date. This is especially important for relocating physicians who often have movers scheduled and a relatively short timeline to move in and get settled before starting a new position. Make it a point early in the transaction, even before you write up your offer or go house hunting, to get your loan officer and Realtor on the same page. It’s important that these two advisors are in communication about loan type, financing and appraisal deadlines, and the all-important closing and move in dates.
What can happen in a transaction is that everybody gets focused one thing, like the appraisal or the outstanding final signed employment contract or whatever the potential hang up might be, and they take their eye off the relocation piece and end up missing a date.
If you get into the habit of staying in communication with your Realtor and loan officer throughout the transaction, you’ll prevent a lot of problems. It’s as easy as firing off an email to both parties saying: “Hey team, I'm selling my house on Wednesday and I’ll be in Ohio that day, I need to move in and have keys Friday afternoon for the Arizona home. Everybody on board, do you see any problems with those dates?”; “Hey, did you get everything you need from me? Is there anything else you need?;; “Hey, team, just verifying that financing and appraisal deadline is next Monday, which means my earnest money is nonrefundable. Can you confirm we are good to pass this date?” or “Hey, team, closing deadline is a week away. I’m confirming that everything is set and my family will be in a moving van on Wednesday.” For anything having to do with deadlines or the dates you will be traveling, I would recommend being in direct communication with both the Realtor and the loan officer.
The frequency of your communication may vary depending on the transaction, but I think once or twice a week is probably the recommended dosage. That’s not too much and not too little. If you send communications a couple times a day or daily, you’re going to drive everybody crazy.
Even if you are working with a great Realtor and loan officer team, keep in mind that things happen. The loan processor goes on vacation, the kids get sick, real-life stuff happens and things can slip through the cracks. If you’re not communicating what your expectations are with the deadlines, you’re leaving yourself open to possible mistakes.
6. Be Proactive
Take responsibility for the deadlines you sign on your purchase agreement and ensure you don’t lose your earnest money. This is truly your responsibility and all you have to do is to be aware of your inspection, appraisal, financing and settlement deadlines. I find most home buyers rarely even know the deadlines in a purchase agreement even exist. It’s extremely seldom that we get any kind of communication from the client following up on these dates. This is typically because the Realtor rushed through the purchase agreement and did not bring it to your attention, but at the end of the day this is on you since it is your earnest money. You can do this simply by paying attention to the dates in your purchase agreement and set yourself reminders to follow up with your real estate and mortgage team before the dates are upon you and your money is lost.
Follow this advice and you have a 99 percent chance that your transaction will be a successful and enjoyable one!
[Editor's Note: You can learn more about home mortgages, hire Josh and his team to help with your home mortgage or relocation, or find out more about his upcoming book by visiting his site. Let's hear about your mortgage and home purchase experience, whether good or bad, in the comments below. Any tips for others to make the process go smoother? Sound off!]