Broker waives commission to help clients gain homeownership

'Devastated' when loan collapsed, she went above and beyond

Broker waives commission to help clients gain homeownership

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is one of those storied instances usually associated with sports films, with the team lagging behind able to somehow score to win the game. Yet this drama can occur in the mortgage industry too, as one Florida broker can attest.

The setting: Florida – the Sunshine State, the Everglades State or, by another nickname, the Alligator State where natives know how best to avoid reptilian jaws. The conflict: A young family all but approved for a home, only to have technical glitches upend the entire process. The happy ending: Lender and broker both forsake their commission to help the family secure homeownership.

It’s an unusual plot line to be sure, but a transaction that remains indelibly etched in the mind of Toshia Drummond (pictured) of Approved Mortgage Solutions in Plantation, Fla. In a telephone interview with Mortgage Professional America, she described how devastated the family – two parents with three children under the age of four – were when the deal collapsed before she and United Wholesale Mortgage worked hard to close the transaction.

Sideswiped by miscalculation

The central theme to the real-life plot was Florida’s “Hometown Heroes” down payment assistance program launched in response to the state’s growing affordability crisis. Now in its second year of funding, the program reached $20 million in applications within the first week – including $11 million in applications on the first day alone as reported by the governor’s office. Last year, the program provided more than $100 million for down payment assistance.

United Wholesale Mortgage opened up and allowed us to use this program,” Drummond told MPA of the initiative that provides up to 5% in down payment assistance to borrowers. “It was a blessing for a lot of borrowers, or potential homeowners, because everything is so elevated right now in South Florida.” Having assessed the young couple’s finances, she found they were eligible for the program. “I said: Hey guys. You qualify! Woo-hoo!”

That’s when the wrench was thrown into the works. “There was a minor issue where the underwriter at first didn’t calculate income right, so we had to cancel the file. But I looked at it again and said, ‘no – they qualify’. So, we resubmitted the file, no problem. We worked that out. The problem was with Florida’s ‘Hometown Heroes’ you can only lock the loan once. You have to cancel it; the lender has to cancel it.”

The file could be unlocked – in 90 days, she said. That delay was too much for the family to be able to move into the home, and she recalled how devastated they were at the news. Efforts to secure an exception were not fruitful with those running the nascent program, she added. “They were supposed to move in that Thursday, and I had to tell them they weren’t going to get the 5%. They couldn’t wait 90 days, because they would’ve been homeless.”

As disappointing as the news was for the would-be homeowners, its closed file also had an impact on Drummond: “It was devastating for me because I really look at being a mortgage loan officer as a ministry, and I really strive to serve the borrower by providing them with guidance and navigating them through this process in a seamless manner,” she said. “I’m not one of those brokers who goes for numbers,” she added. “I foster strong connections, and I try to establish lasting relationships. Each borrower is so vital to me and to my business that they actually become my family. So, when they were devastated, I was also devastated.”

And then, the unexpected occurred

And here’s where that glorious plot twist comes in – the one snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Undeterred by the unforgiving program’s lock, she went the FHA route for the borrowers and found equally attractive terms. But the twist is that she opted to forego her commission so the couple could become homeowners.

“I knew they couldn’t come up with that $20,000,” she said. “I reached out to my AE [account executive] and some of the higher-ups at UWM and said, ‘Hey guys, we need to make this work’. I don’t need to be paid – I don’t even care about being paid. At this point, I just need them in a home. So, I waived my origination fee and UWM, in turn, gave us lender credits and they were able to close the loan.”

That’s the kind of stuff that restores one’s faith in humanity or gives pause to those jaded about the business world they may view as devoid of human emotion in its cold corporate dealings. “We were able to make this happen by giving a little of ourselves,” she said of the transaction. “But given that UWM is such a large entity, they didn’t really have to do it. They could’ve just told me ‘Hey, sorry.’ But they did, so we were able to close the deal. When I tell this story, nobody believes it.”

Drummond agreed her past 20-year career as a teacher may have developed the sense of empathy that made her go above and beyond for the young couple now happily ensconced in their home. And she’s not down on “Hometown Heroes” as a result of the experience, having used it successfully some half-dozen times since in helping others achieve homeownership.

“Helping a family achieve their dream of homeownership is really the most satisfying part of my job,” she said. “It’s not about money. It goes back to ‘It takes a village.’ As a mortgage broker and lender, we play such important roles in that village. It’s super rewarding and reinforces belief in my values that good comes from helping others.”

Who doesn’t love a happy ending?

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