When you are in the need of a home loan, either to purchase or refinance, the one thing you want to look for in a bank you may use is a strong underwriting department. I know, it’s not the first thing that comes to mind, like low rates and the speed at which they can get the loan closed. Of course, any lender you choose must have those as well. But nothing can put a wrench into your plans faster than a mortgage lender whose underwriting is poor, inconsistent, inflexible or ill-informed.
That’s why here at Hillcrest Bank we are very proud of our underwriting department, which we humbly feel is second to none. So, why is underwriting so important to those of you who want to purchase or refinance? The head underwriter and team are the people who know all the rules of getting a home loan, and there are many. There are government guidelines, and investor guidelines like those of FHA, VA, FNMA, and so on. An underwriter reviews a loan once it is submitted by the loan originator and makes a determination if the loan can meet those guidelines and indeed be closed. It is a very critical link in the mortgage approval process.
These guidelines are constantly changing, so it is vital that our underwriters keep up to date and know exactly what it takes to approve a loan at the time it is submitted. Inexperienced or unknowledgeable underwriters can make mistakes that can have drastic effects on peoples’ lives. That is why Hillcrest Bank has always had the best underwriters to meet the very important needs of our homebuyer clients including Diane McNulty, one of the best underwriting managers around.
Diane has seen every kind of housing cycle, and survived quite well during the worst housing recession in US history, when bad lending caused by bad underwriting caused many mortgage companies to go under because so many of the loans they closed went into default. Diane’s style of underwriting mortgage loans is responsible, with a close eye always to what is best for the homebuyer.
“I think we have always just tried to use common sense and do what is right for the client,” Diane said. “That has always been our culture, that we have an important job because we are helping people purchase a home where they will raise their families. We all have that same love of what we do, the sense of making a difference.”
Perhaps this business and personal philosophy is ingrained in Diane because of where she grew up, in the small town of Burlington in far eastern Colorado, just near the Kansas border. There, her father and mother ran a veterinarian business, where they both worked hard each day. Diane was raised with that strong work ethic, and she’s built a team that embodies that ethic as well.
“It’s so much about the people in my department,” she said. “I’ve been so blessed to find the best people and they’ve stayed.” She now is responsible for leading a team of 18 underwriters, some of whom have been here as long 18 years, some who just joined her team because of the bank merger. Almost none of the people she has recruited over the years have left.
Cindy Leonard, SVP of Mortgage Lending, has worked with Diane for many years and has witnessed her continued growth as a mortgage professional over the years. “She has a precarious role,” Cindy said, because she has to balance investor guidelines with the expectations of the sales staff and the clients we serve. “When you talk to her team, one of the things they like most about working here is that she is available and not afraid to agree or disagree with their findings and support them on their decisions, even if she overrides that decision. That is a very difficult thing to do and still be respected.”
So when you are shopping for a bank to help you get a home loan, absolutely check the rates and the service you’ll get, but also keep in mind the core of any lending operation is their underwriting department, and thanks to Diane McNulty, we at Hillcrest Bank have the best.