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The Mortgage Approval Process: An Interview with Tracie Baise of Top Flite Financial, Inc.

By Tracie Baise

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

Top Flite Financial, Inc. is a National Mortgage Lender specializing in residential Mortgages. It was founded in 2002 in an 80 sq. foot office within the home of the founders and soon took over a historic building in downtown Williamston, MI. Top Flite Financial, Inc. now has more than 50 locations throughout the United States and is licensed in 32 states with its corporate office still being located in Williamston, Michigan with an additional production office in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

What are some of the services your company provides?

Top Flite Financial, Inc. offers both first and second mortgages on residential homes; this includes second homes as well as investment properties. We have a wide range of products which allows us to tailor a loan to fit our customers' needs and long term goals. Top Flite Financial, Inc. is also a leading producer of Reverse Mortgages within the United States.

What are some important questions to ask your mortgage broker before applying?

It's most important to read the documentation that is provided to you and that you understand the loan terms and costs. If you do not, then you need to assure you are reaching out to your loan officer for answers.

What are some important aspects of the mortgage approval process?

First and foremost, before you begin looking for homes, get pre-approved with a mortgage lender. To many times the process is reversed and they fall in love with a home to only find out that they do not qualify for it.

How do you suggest clients prepare for this process?

A prospective borrower needs to begin gathering the following information:
Last 2 Years W-2's
Last 2 Years Tax Returns (all scheduled)- It may or not be needed but it is best to have them available for review.
Full Months Paystubs
Most Recent 60 Days Bank Statements/401K/etc.
If applicable: Divorce Decree, Child Support, Awards Letter, VA Eligibility, Bankruptcy Filings (all schedules) and Discharge Papers.

While it may seem as though it is a lot; it will give the lender the whole picture and allow the borrower to truly know what they qualify for as well as save time during the underwriting process. Lastly, be honest with your loan officer, I can assure you that you are not the first person they have seen with credit flaws, job related issues, etc.

What are some common issues you face when it comes to approving a mortgage?

With the housing crash, appraised value is still a challenge. While some markets are trending upwards there are still many foreclosures and short sales that are bringing the values in lower.

What advice do you have for those with a low credit score?

Rebuild and do not close your open accounts. In order to increase your scores you have to have a balance and this is where people get into trouble. They will have 5 cards and all are more than 50% utilization, or they will pay a card off and then close it; both of which will impact your score adversely. Many credit report providers have tools in which they can analyze your report and give tips on how to increase to a target score based on balancing the limits and applying for additional credit and in some cases it just takes time. At Top Flite Financial, Inc. our loan officers have the ability to assist clients with obtaining this report through their credit provider. Lastly, if you are renting DO NOT pay by cash, you need to pay by check so that it can be documented. If you pay by Money Order, you need to keep every receipt and also be able to show the monies coming from your account.

How long does the approval process typically take?

Initial Approval takes a matter of hours if the borrower is prepared. Final approval typically takes 30 days from the time the borrower executes their purchase agreement.

Are there any special circumstances that can speed up the approval process, and if so what?

Providing the loan officer with the items mentioned in question #5, will definitely speed up the process. The loan officer will have pre- approved your loan based off of all the facts vs finding things out mid-stream.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you or your company?

Top Flite Financial, Inc. Toll-Free number is: 866-301-0653 and our website address is www.topflitefinancial.com. Whether calling the toll free or applying online one of our customer service members will direct the client to a licensed professional in their state.

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