On the backs of surging purchase activity across the country and low mortgage rates, home loan applications have risen to a near four-year high. 

For people with mortgage applications in process, some patience may be required.

In 2006 and 2007, mortgage volume slowed nationwide.  Narrowing mortgage guidelines restricted the number of eligible borrowers and rising mortgage rates made refinancing impractical for many homeowners. 

In a push for profitability, lenders eliminated jobs because fewer applications meant fewer people were needed on staff.

So now, with rates edging near their 2004 lows and with strong demand for home purchases nationwide, mortgage lenders are finding themselves short-staffed. 

Lenders are understaffed to handle the volume of mortgage applications coming in each day.

As a comparison:

  • October 2007: 24 hours to review and approve a home loan
  • February 2008: As long as 20 days to review and approve a home loan

Some lenders have gone so far as to eliminate the benchmark 30-day rate lock option, replacing it with a 60-day option instead. 

60-day mortgage rates are typically 0.125% higher than comparable 30-day ones.

As a home buyer, home seller, or mortgage refinancer, it’s important to recognize that lenders may not have the capacity to move as quickly as you’d like them to.  To help them move more quickly (and possibly save you money), be prepared and be responsive. 

30-day closings are still possible, but, given today’s demand for mortgage money, they are increasingly rare.

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