The Forms Must Be Obeyed: Applying for a Mortgage

The amount of paperwork required to apply for a mortgage loan can be a little daunting and frustrating at times. Tomorrow I’ll be signing the paperwork that will make me the proud owner of a condominium in Winter Park, Florida. It was not an easy process, even for someone like me who’s been a professional bureaucrat for 20+ years. The keys to surviving the paper rush are to have the documentation and to maintain your cool when another request hits the inbox.

Frustration and Irritation

My primary objection to the paperwork requested is how intrusive it all is. Bank statements, invoices, investment history, stock accounts…they wanted paperwork for everything. I understand that everyone goes through this…that doesn’t make it feel any better. And I received extra scrutiny, apparently, because I am a freelancer, not a full-time employee.

The other thing that irritated me were the requests for documents I had already sent. These people have computers–I know because I had to upload everything to an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server online–so why were they requesting information they should already have? I never received a satisfactory response to this question.

Coping with the Process

I kept my cool with the people asking for my paperwork. After all, they were the people who would or would not approve my loan. Getting short-tempered with them would be a great way to get them irritated enough that they might deny me the loan simply because I was being a pain. Instead I vented at family and friends. I would, however, push back on repeat requests with a polite, “I uploaded that on X date. You should have that.” I also pushed back on requests that did not apply to me. For example, I was asked for my business license at one point. I pointed out that the State of Florida did not require a license for my profession, and the request was dropped (they did want to see some sort of registration for my business,  however, and I provided it).

Another thing I would do–politely, of course–is ask the reason for specific documentation requests. My feeling was that if there’s no rational reason behind a request except that the underwriters wanted more paper to justify their decision, I was not going to part with any more of my personal information than necessary.

What kept me balanced and calm–most of the time, anyhow–was that I had the documents they wanted. If they weren’t on my computer, I knew where to get them and then added them to my computer should the request come up again.

What Does This Have to Do With Technical Writing?

There are going to be times in your career when you have to fill out paperwork, whether you’re developing new software, publishing a book, or submitting a proposal. The people asking for the forms are not making these requests to be sadistic or punitive. There are reasons behind each piece of paper or other documentation. If you don’t know that purpose, ask. Most of the time, the document requests are there to prove that you are who you say you are or that you’ve done what you said you did (example: worked for company X, were born a U.S. citizen). It’s important that you save the originals of important documents or copies or know where you can obtain them.

Bottom line: the forms must be obeyed, and it’s better if you provide them politely.

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About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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2 Responses to The Forms Must Be Obeyed: Applying for a Mortgage

  1. Larry Kunz says:

    Here, I’ll bet, is the answer to why they asked for information they already had: Silos. Just because someone in Department A retrieved your file from the FTP server, they probably didn’t share it with the people in Departments B and C who needed to see it. Today, at least, it’s a simple matter of resending the electronic file — unlike the old days when we had to rely on faxes or even (shudder) snail mail.

    Congratulations on becoming a new homeowner, Bart!

    • Bart Leahy says:

      Thanks! Yeah, that wouldn’t surprise me. I also had multiple inquiries wanting to confirm that my business was, in fact, in operation. I guess they don’t run into freelance technical writers very often, so they weren’t sure what to make of it.

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