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I spent some time helping a “grandmother” in my spiritual community who has cancer to navigate whether or not she should refinance.  One of her options was to call her existing lender and see what was available. I agreed to help her with this call.  Three hours later (it’s a long story), we decided she shouldn’t refinance at all.  But that was not after I endured the worst mortgage sales process of my career.

The following statements are not true

The mortgage business is a highly commoditized, highly competitive place.  I have no illusions about that.  I did however get lulled back into an illusion that every mortgage salesperson has the same level of advice, expertise, and service that Scott and I do.  That illusion has been blown, once again.  There’s nothing better than a respectable competitor to learn from.  There’s nothing worse than dealing with a “peer” that you’d be afraid to be seen eating lunch with.

I would never hire the person on the other end of the phone based on personality, but I’ll leave the personal out of this.  This poor sot probably has to deal with 20-50 calls like mine every day because he was well practiced, down to the verbal tics, in handling all my questions and objections.  However, I would never advise anyone to do business with him or his company because his sales tactics included the following paraphrased sentences, none of which was true:

     * You’re getting the best rate and preferred treatment because you were
        referred by your existing lender. (May grace befall upon the borrowers
        who are not preferred.)

     * You’re getting the best rate because we’re not a middleman and we go
        direct to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to get the best rate for you.

     * You’re getting the best rate because you qualify for special government
        programs, and we’re one of few companies that can offer these

     * I can guarantee that we’re providing you the best rate.

     * I’ve closed over 1000 loans, and therefore I have the experience to tell
        you that this new loan is in your best decision you could make.

     * Why do you need to waste your time confirming with someone else who 
        doesn’t have experience in the business that I’m offering the best rate? 
        You’re a busy person.  Why don’t we just go ahead and wrap this up.

     * I’m a busy person. I was working on several other applications when
        you called.  I didn’t expect this call from you today.  I’m going to be
        busy tomorrow.  Can we set up a time when you’ll be around so I can be
        sure to reach you to follow up?

No sensitivity to the fact that my friend is sick.  Apparently not enough experience to notice the fact that my friend is in her upper-60s and might be receiving Social Security Income to quality.  And clearly not confident that he was offering the best deal because he was pushing for the commitment so hard it finally repulsed me.  It wasn’t even my loan, and I have pretty thick skin.

The lesson? If you have seniors in your life, make sure they get help with their financial affairs. The world moves very quickly, they often make decisions much more slowly, and they require more time to digest information and comprehend it.  Our culture wants speedy decisions, not quality ones.  The second lesson:  Don’t believe everything you hear from your own lender.

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