Changes in technology now allow would-be borrowers to apply for financing whenever they like -- every day, 24-7. But many, it appears, are doing so during the workday, at a time, perhaps, when they should be working at their jobs rather than handling personal matters.
According to a MortgageMarvel.com analysis of some 650,000 online applications last year, people clicked the "send" button during all hours of the day and night. But activity started to pick up during the 10 a.m. hour (Central time) and didn't start to slow again until after 5 p.m.
If you assume that most people looking for a mortgage are employed, then they are obviously spending a good deal of their workday on their applications. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, says Rick Allen, CEO of the mortgage shopping service. Nor does it correlate that their work is suffering.
"I don't think it's a productivity issue," Allen ventures. "In today's work environment, people know how to balance work and personal matters. It's likely that people are doing regular work outside what we consider to be normal hours."
You might think borrowers would complete their loan applications on the weekend, but only about 15 percent of applications come in on Saturday and Sunday, according to MortgageMarvel. The rest come in during the week, with about 60 percent being submitted between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. The most activity is between the hours of 1 and 4 p.m.
Of course, a good deal of the information required hy lenders can't be gathered outside of regular business hours. While some workers are filling out their applications on the sly, savvy employers these days are granting their people a little more latitude in taking care of such personal matters. To compensate, employees are arriving earlier, staying longer and taking work home.
Looking to buy a house for your college student? Maybe a place of his own for your disabled son? Or perhaps a house nearby where your elderly parents can live out their remaining years?
Typically, financing a house in any one of these circumstances can be challenging. And the rules say you'll need as much as 20 percent down and the interest rate will be a half-point higher -- or more.
But Ted Rood, a senior loan consultant with Wintrust Mortgage in St. Louis, says it doesn't necessarily have to be that way.
In researching the underwriting guidelines published by Fannie Mae, the big secondary market investor that sets the rules most lenders follow, Rood found an "obscure" exception that allows certain properties to be classified as owner-occupied even if the borrower doesn't reside in the place.
Fannie's guidelines state that parents wanting to provide housing for their college student children, or for physically handicapped or developmentally disabled adult children, can be considered to be owner-occupants if they meet the other lending program requirements.
Want to reach as many would-be buyers as possible? Price your home in round numbers, says realty broker David Rathgeber of Your Friend in Real Estate in Arlington, Va., and you'll get more exposure.
Since home searches are driven in a range of round numbers, you'll get a lot more eyeballs on your property and perhaps sell more quickly if your prices ends in 000, Rathgeber ventures.
Here's why: If your home is priced at $400,000, it will be found by anyone looking in the $350,000 to $400,000 range, the $375,000 to $825,000 range and the $400,000 to $450,000 range. But if it is priced at $399,000, buyers searching in the latter category will "be oblivious" to the fact that your house is on the market.
The Virginia agent says "almost all agents as well as individual buyers" hunt in round numbers. But if your place can't be priced at an even $100,000 increment, then make sure your asking price ends in three zeros. That, he promises, will give you an edge over your competition.