In the lending business, there is a term called a “shopper” to describe a person who is calling every lender in town to find the best deal on a loan. Experienced lenders can usually spot a ‘shopper’ a mile away, while more inexperienced lenders are easy prey. Many times a ‘shopper’ will pretend that the lender is their only lender, while he or she is working with half a dozen lenders at the same time.
I recently came across the ‘shopper from hell,’ a woman named Jackie who was desperate for a loan. She called our office to inquire about our loan programs one day. The next day she sent me all of the information about the property that she wanted a loan against. After we offered her terms for the loan, she suddenly went cold on us and stopped returning our calls. This is a tell-tale sign that you are being ‘shopped’ by a borrower.
A few weeks later Jackie returned, and this time she was motivated to move forward with the loan we had offered her. We had her sign the term sheet, we then inspected the property, and finally we drew up the loan documents and sent them to the Title company. In other words, a lot of time spent! Later that day, the Title company called to say that three different lenders had opened escrow on the same property!! I immediately called Jackie to find out what was going on. She told me that a few weeks ago she had a lender she was talking to but he could not provide her the terms she wanted so she backed out. She swore to me that we were her only lender now and that she had eliminated all the other lenders. She also claimed she didn’t know who the third lender was who had also opened escrow.
A few days later, Jackie went into the Title company to sign on our new loan. We thought all was well. Soon after she arrived at the Title company, we received a call from the Title company saying she left without signing. The Title person said she did not bring the right paperwork required to sign for the business entity that held title to the property. We were very clear with Jackie as to what documents she was required to bring to Title for closing and she said she had all of them. But why had she failed to bring them?
About an hour later I received a call from one of the guys who was receiving a payoff from our new loan. He said Jackie had called him to say there would be a delay in getting him his money. He questioned her, “I thought you were at the Title company signing on the new loan?” Jackie then told him that the other lender had called her back and offered her a larger loan amount. Just in case the other lender wasn’t for real, she went into the Title company to pretend she was going to sign on our new loan so she could keep us on the hook a little longer. She used the missing document as an excuse for not signing, and said she would have to return with it at a later time.
Because it’s a small world in lending, we were able to contact the other lender to inquire about the story. He told us that he had been working with Jackie all that time as well, and that he also had no idea she was working with us. The other lender just about fell out of his chair when I told him she was at Title that very day signing on our new loan and that she had left without signing. The entire time, Jackie had been playing both of us relentlessly until she got what she wanted. We both felt cheated and fully duped by this person.
Although this is an extreme story about a “shopper,” be wary of these types of individuals. They will waste your time and stretch your sense of sanity. Also be on high alert when a person approaches you for a loan and who seems desperate. This person is will call incessantly, email you non-stop, and in some cases text you at all hours of the day. If you suspect someone may be ‘shopping’ you, make a few calls around town to other lenders and find out before you put any time into the loan.
Corey Curwick Dutton, MBA. Real Estate Lender for Private Money Utah. Corey Ann Curwick is a private money consultant for Private Money Utah, a real estate lender based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Corey is from Austin, Texas and is an MBA Graduate of the prestigious Thunderbird School of International Management. An authority in the private money lending industry, Corey provides educational resources for investors who use hard money loans in their real estate investing activities. Before she joined Private Money Utah, Corey was the President of an investment education company in Utah called Bray-Conn Investments LLC. In this role, Corey organized classes, which taught investors how to invest in five asset classes. In her free time, Corey enjoys skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking in the beautiful Utah outdoors.