Long read, but my experience might be helpful to others who are shopping around for the best deal. I'm also looking for advice.
I presented a Loan estimate from Watermark to Better to see if they could beat it.
Response from Better:
Thanks for sending this over! If this is something we can beat by $100 in costs would you move forward with us today?
I replied if it was better than Watermark's best and final offer, I would proceed with Better.
Response from better:
Fantastic. So our costs will be $1912 vs their cost of $2326. (Section D-J of the loan estimate)
For that cost to be possible I need to confirm that we can waive the appraisal. Can you complete the tasks on your account? This will allow me to run our underwriting system and determine if we can. Once that is determined I will send you out the new estimate.
I complete the tasks on their site except for consenting to the in-person appraisal because I figured it would be waived since my Loan to Value is less than 25%. Thirty minutes later I hear back from my Better Loan Officer:
Good news! We can waive the appraisal! Please complete the remaining tasks on your account. The last task will ask you to pay the appraisal deposit and lock your rate. The $550 will be refunded at closing. I am also attaching the loan estimate. Keep in mind the $550 appraisal will be removed during processing.
I immediately receive a call from someone on the Better team pressuring me to submit the $550 deposit/payment in order to lock and move forward. I mention to him that I would like to receive a revised Loan Estimate that reflects the Appraisal fee of $550 has been removed. He tells me that it will be available on the website after submitting the payment and completing the task to acknowledge "waiving" the appraisal. I submit payment and sign and submit the appraisal waiver. The revised Loan Estimate is nowhere to be found on the website.
I email the Better loan officer requesting the revised LE and his response:
We will absolutely send that over. Your file needs to be reviewed by an underwriter first. Once it passes the initial underwriting review and they can confirm the appraisal waiver the updated estimate will be sent over.
That's not what the high pressure sales guy that pressed me to submit the $550 deposit told me. I call them to speak with the person who told me it would be available on the website. He ghosts me and instead my assigned Loan Processor calls me back. He says it needs to go through underwriting to be able to remove the $550 Appraisal line item from the Loan Estimate.
This morning I receive an e-mail confirmation from the same loan processor that my loan is conditionally approved. I let him know I submitted some docs they requested and I ask him again to send me the revised LE with the appraisal fee removed (I made no mention of getting reimbursed for the $550 Appraisal Deposit- I just want the revised LE). His response:
I appreciate the update and as for the appraisal credit this will not show until we are final approved just in case the appraisal waiver falls off. Once we are clear to close your initial closing disclosure will reflect your appraisal credit and our closing team will refund you appraisal once your loan has funded.
Again, I wasn't asking about the appraisal fee refund, I want the revised LE. They seem to be saying they can provide that basically after/near closing. I'm starting to get irritated.
It seems to me the Better team is playing games because they know that other lenders are going to want to see the Appraisal fee on their Loan Estimate waived in order to match Better's terms (which are $414 better than Watermark's). So the $550 is crucial to my having any negotiating power with other lenders.
The Loan Officer at Watermark said he CAN beat Better's terms, but he will need the LE from Better to have the $550 appraisal fee removed in order to factor that in to their best and final Loan Estimate. When I told the Watermark Loan Officer that I was having a tough time getting the revised LE from Better, but that I'm hoping to have that to him ASAP, his response was:
I will withdraw your application since you are not committed in moving forward with us. I wish you the best of luck.
What?! That caught me off guard, but I told him I would try to have it ASAP and to not cancel my application.
Question: How hard should I press Better for the revised Loan Estimate? Should I give them an ultimatum? At this point, they have the best terms as long as they stay true to their word that the appraisal will be waived. I don't want to risk them canceling my application. Can they even do that since I'm locked and have provided them with everything they have asked for (even a $550 deposit/payment for an appraisal that is supposedly not even needed)?
Much like my first experience refinancing, I feel like I'm dealing with sleazy used car salesmen. Not happy with either Watermark or Better.
Amerisave (the lender I used for my first refinance several years ago) was actually hit with a class action lawsuit for bait and switch tactics and I got a piddly settlement that was a few hundred dollars shy of what they screwed me out of in the final stages of the process. I'm wondering if we are heading down the same path here?
FWIW, here are the terms (15 year fixed; Loan Amount: $125,900; Rate: 2.375%)
A+B+C = $2,483 minus lender credit of $157 = $2,326
B: $614 (Including the $550 appraisal fee which they said via e-mail will be waived)
A+B+C = $2,462 (No lender credit, but will drop down to $1,912 if appraisal is actually waived)