What is Underwriting
What is Underwriting

By Alena Kairys

Sep 6, 2023

Underwriting is one of the most crucial stages your loan application goes through before you are given a final approval to close on your loan. It might sound intimidating, but underwriting isn’t the headache you might think it is. Here’s a look at what happens during underwriting. 

What is Underwriting?

Underwriting is the process of evaluating and reviewing a potential borrower’s creditworthiness, ability to repay, financial profile, submitted documents, and collateral to determine whether the lender can fund the loan. Essentially, underwriters have the final say in whether you qualify for a loan. Remember all those financial documents you had to send with your mortgage application? After the paperwork has been compiled into a loan package by the processing team, it goes to underwriting for a comprehensive inspection. During the first underwriting phase, the team reviews loan conditions for credit, income, asset, mortgage insurance, and hazard (disaster) insurance requirements. The second phase of underwriting happens towards the end of the mortgage process, where underwriters do a final check of the conditions from the initial approval. The turnaround time for underwriting is usually two days, after which the loan file goes back to the processing team.

What Happens in Underwriting?

Risk Analysis 

To assess your potential risk, underwriters will do a deep dive into your credit score, credit history, income and net worth, and debt-to-income ratio (DTI). A strong credit score is a good indication of how financially responsible you are. Having a solid history of on-time payments increases your score and gives lenders more confidence that you won’t miss payments. Underwriters use your income and assets to determine whether you can afford mortgage payments. DTI measures how much money you have left after paying your existing debts. Having a lower DTI will improve your chances of getting approved. 

Asset and Document Verification

Underwriting will review in detail the documentation provided to validate your income and assets being used in the transaction. These documents come from both you and other third parties, such as your employer or a financial institution. An underwriter’s job is to scrutinize and authenticate the documents in your loan file and make sure they meet the guidelines for the loan type you have applied for. Should any questions arise, you may be asked for additional information or an explanation. The underwriter also ensures the files don’t contain suspicious information or raise a red flag for potential discrepancies. For example, a large deposit into a bank account can warrant a request for an additional explanation or documentation to ensure funds you are using for closing costs or a down payment are coming from a valid source allowed by the guidelines set forth by the agencies. 

Reviewing Guidelines

Underwriters also check your financial profile and loan details against various lending guidelines before they make a decision. There are lending criteria for different loan types, programs, and promotions, so it’s essential that all underwritten loans adhere to those regulations. Underwriters often have to think creatively when faced with ambiguous situations, which can prompt them to ask for additional details. Underwriters also check that the appraiser’s choice of real estate comparisons (comps) support the appraised value as determined by the appraiser and ensuring the collateral is supported by the appraisal.

How You Can Help During Underwriting 

Since your application goes through multiple rounds of underwriting, it can feel stressful wondering whether your loan will be approved or not. To help make things smoother for yourself and your lender, make sure you provide all the needed documents at the start of your application in the correct format. Stay in close communication with your lending team and be prepared to answer any questions and send supplementary paperwork as soon as possible. The sooner you can provide the information, the faster the underwriters can work through your file. It’s crucial to be honest about your finances, as trying to hide things will prolong the process and be discovered nevertheless.

As long as you’re providing clear and concise information and providing necessary documentation in a timely manner, underwriting is nothing to be scared of. Be patient during this time and remember that your lending team is on your side to help you become a homeowner!

If you have any questions or want more information about the mortgage process, contact one of our Licensed Mortgage Loan Originators. If you are ready to begin the home buying process, click here to get started!

These blogs are for informational purposes only. Make sure you understand the features associated with the loan program you choose, and that it meets your unique financial needs. Subject to Debt-to-Income and Underwriting requirements. This is not a credit decision or a commitment to lend. Eligibility is subject to completion of an application and verification of home ownership, occupancy, title, income, employment, credit, home value, collateral, and underwriting requirements. Not all programs are available in all areas. Offers may vary and are subject to change at any time without notice. Should you have any questions about the information provided, please contact us.