Workshop aims to keep new agents in underwriters’ good graces

After Jelani Daniel completed his REMIC course to become an agent, he felt like something was missing

Workshop aims to keep new agents in underwriters’ good graces

After Jelani Daniel completed his Real Estate and Mortgage Institute of Canada course to become an agent, he felt like something was missing.

And as many green agents can attest, brokerage training can often be inadequate to non-existent. Fortunately, Daniel found the Mortgage Agent’s Guide to Underwriting, a workshop given by 18-year veteran of the industry, Camille Robotham.

“What I’ve learned in my short time in the industry is before you even send the deal out, you should have clarity on what the lender is looking for, and with the booklet that accompanied the workshop, I’ve been able to position my deals correctly,” said Daniel, who’s been an agent since January.

“Everything was in detail and there were two or three examples for each situation that were broken down in different manners. The fact that you get the booklet too is great, and it’s helped me with a few of my deals. Sometimes, trying to put a deal together is overwhelming but at least you have something you can go back to that’s incredibly detailed.”

Robotham says that if there’s been one constant during her time in the industry, it’s that agents receive inadequate training from their brokerages on how to underwrite deals. Although some brokerages do put the time in, it’s hardly uniform, and after years of fielding questions from new agents she decided to offer a three-hour workshop.

“The overall understanding of what lenders are looking for is problematic in the industry, especially for newer agents,” said the Mortgages of Canada agent, who started the workshop in March. “A lot of new agents are overwhelmed and flustered; they don’t know where to start. They often come to me with their new clients and say, ‘I don’t even know what questions to ask them.’ Whether a refinance or purchase, I’ll go over their deals with them and tell them which questions they should ask, as well as which documents to ask for. When you know where to start and know what to ask, you develop confidence, which is something the client notices.”

The workshop covers everything from packaging deals for A, B and C lenders to the minutiae of pulling credit bureau information, as well as ordering appraisals and how to review them, how to fulfil lender conditions, compliance documents, and much, much more.

Robotham worked as an underwriter before becoming an agent and she can attest to the importance of getting it right. Underwriters often become a frustrated bunch because, too often, deals are packaged improperly and missing key documents.

“They don’t have time to piece together what you’re trying to say or what the client is trying to do,” she said. “Underwriters don’t like to say it, but when you develop a reputation with certain underwriters and they see your name on deals, they have already formulated what they’re doing with the deal and whether or not they’re going to over-condition it and whether or not they’re even going to look at it. You don’t want to have a negative reputation with an underwriter.”

Conversely, agents with exceptional reputations—they’re known to secure all relevant documentation up front and screen clients diligently—tend to get the breaks.

For neophyte agents, it’s important to be on the right side of the divide.

“Before we even go to battle, we have to have taken all the necessary steps, which makes the relationship easier because there isn’t a lot of back and forth, which could potentially cause you to lose a deal because you might look unorganized,” said Daniel. “When you do a deal, nobody has been paid yet, so you want to be respectful of someone’s time by doing your due diligence and giving them what they expect, not what you imagine they’re asking for. We’re dealing with big ticket items.”