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The Water Boarding Refinance Experience

Kathleen Kosciolek

The average turnaround time for a clean refinance today via a large traditional lending institution is estimated to be 90 plus days.  Clean' being defined as a good FICO score of 740 and above, LTV 80% or less, and documented income supporting the 28/36 debt ratio.  If you do not place in this squeaky clean category, just ball up the application or make yourself a whimsical paper airplane out of the nice sized legal paper and save yourself the hopeful anguish.My interview with one couple revealed some shocking details of inefficient processing and mental torture. For example, two months into the refinance process with very little contact from the big bank' (NYSEArca: KBE - News) the borrower assumed everything was going smoothly, the appraisal had been documented as a 36% LTV - they were only borrowing 36% of the home's value - but that was just the beginning of the torture.At this point, when the property itself has passed the appraisal hurdle, which is usually the deal breaker in this declining home value market (NYSEArca: XHB - News), the loan processor begins the dutiful task of checking and re-checking every item and statement reported from the loans inception.'Why,' the applicant asked, 'Do you need to contact my employer for the fourth time in two weeks?' Yes, income does need to be verified, but one begins to wonder if they were secretly trying to get the employee fired with the excessive paperwork they were causing the human relations department.What about bank statements and credit reports?  This truly is when the boarding' process gets intense and you begin to sing like a canary in whatever octave they desire when you surface for each precious breath. The same bank statements you happily submitted to your loan processor two months earlier, will need to be submitted again, all seven pages -  front and back of course, from every bank you have ever had an account with, at least three more times before closing.The sincere claim is made that the new statements are required to account for changes in your balances and to document the source of down payments and deposits. The ugly truth soon emerges with each new request that the updated statements must be submitted to cover for misplacement, loss, and miscommunication when your processor takes a few days off and no one can find the file. You eventually get a return call from some processor's assistant who bravely declares, as she holds the phone some distance from her ear, that they have never received the previous two statements you sent.Be mindful, that you will not be allowed to use your credit cards or any credit for that matter.  Your debt must be exactly what you stated on the application. In effect, you must put your life on hold for a minimum of three months and go into hiding, without the benefits of the witness protection program. Your credit will be checked on the day of funding, and even the president will be unable to pardon you for any changes from what you had originally reported.Another surprising difficulty reported was the lack of communication between the processor and underwriter. There were many days encountered when the underwriter could not find the file and the processor could not find the underwriter. This conjured up desperate visions of someone unconscious, with only their feet peeking out from under countless loan application files. Were they suffering too?In the end, this homeowner was grateful that the underwriter was found safe by a special task force search and rescue team, otherwise known as higher executive powers and the loan finally funded and closed.  The borrowers considered themselves to be some of the lucky few to refinance in this dismal housing market.Their only words to the wise were to completely avoid the big banks' until they have proven more responsive and responsible in their lending process. Investigate on-line cyber lenders known for broader requirements and fast closings.  If you prefer to apply in person, try a smaller lending institution (NYSEArca: XLF - News); a company that has the funds in house, and where the loan processor and underwriter not only work in the same building but have coffee together at break time.