Some borrowers may be filling in loan applications during workday

Changes in technology now allow would-be borrowers to apply for financing whenever they like — every day, 24-7. And many appear to be doing so during the workday, at a time when they probably should be tending to their jobs rather than handling personal matters.

People click the "send" button all hours of the day and night, according to mortgage shopping service, which analyzed some 650,000 online applications last year. But activity started to pick up around 10 a.m. (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. That's not necessarily a bad thing, MortgageMarvel Chief Executive Rick Allen said. Nor does it mean that their work is suffering.

"I don't think it's a productivity issue," Allen said. "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 that borrowers would complete their loan applications on the weekend, but only about 15% of applications come in on Saturday and Sunday, according to MortgageMarvel. The rest come in during the week, with about 60% 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 by lenders can't be gathered outside regular business hours. Although some workers may be filling out their applications on the sly, savvy employers these days are granting their people more latitude in taking care of such personal matters. To compensate, employees are arriving earlier, staying longer and taking work home.

'Owner-occupied' homes aren't always

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. The rules say you'll need as much as 20% down and the interest rate will be a half-point higher — or more.

But it doesn't necessarily have to be that way, said Ted Rood, a senior loan consultant with Wintrust Mortgage in St. Louis.

In researching the underwriting guidelines published by Fannie Mae, the big secondary market investor that sets the rules that 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.

Price your home in round numbers

Want to reach as many would-be buyers as possible? Price your home in round numbers, said 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 more eyeballs on your property and perhaps sell more quickly if your price ends in three zeros, Rathgeber said.

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 $399,999, buyers searching in the latter category will "be oblivious" to the fact that your house is on the market.


The Virginia agent said "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 that your asking price ends in three zeros. That, he said, will give you an edge over your competition.

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