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Mortgage Loan Pre-Approvals Via Internet

Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670, and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

The mortgage application process has evolved from weeks down to minutes.

Years ago, a prospective buyer had to apply for a home loan in person, and the application process took weeks to complete. Then, loans were handled over the phone and were processed and approved more quickly.

Now, Fannie Mae, the nation’s largest purchaser of home mortgages, says pre-approval of home loans can be determined over the Internet in as little as four minutes.

Fannie Mae and Finet Holding Corp., a Web site developer, have launched a site--www.iQualify.com--where consumers can fill out an application online.

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Once completed, the application is sent through three credit checks and then to Fannie Mae’s desktop underwriter, a service used to approve mortgages.

A decision is returned to the buyer in six minutes or less, with the guarantee that, if approved, any Fannie Mae institution will accept.

Buyers also can compare rates at those institutions, and once chosen, the application is forwarded to the lender. The transaction is completed with a tax form, pay stub and a personal identification.

“We have reduced the time needed to underwrite a loan from nearly 40 days to under four minutes and have paired down the documentation from 40 pages” to something far simpler, said Dan Rawitch, chief executive officer of Finet, based in Walnut Creek.

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Last week, one customer received a response in three minutes and 41 seconds, the quickest response time to date. Rawitch said the new service could result in a $1,400 savings off the price of comparable loans.

The online application can come in handy in a hot housing market like Orange County’s, where buyers often are advised by real estate agents to arm themselves with pre-approved home loans to gain some leverage when negotiating.


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