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The Co-op Chronicles: The Mortgage Application

So, I had struck a deal on a 3 BR co-op on Cabrini Boulevard in Hudson Heights. The fun part was over: I had to apply for a mortgage.

Every time I apply for a mortgage—and this is my fourth time—I am amazed at how painful a process it is. A full proctological exam would be more entertaining. Not since I was divorced did I have to disclose my finances in such detail.

The mortgage broker took my application over the phone. I hadn’t expected this, so I was answering questions according to my recollection. She asked for my SSN, and within seconds had my credit report on her computer screen. It was a little frightening to think how easily a stranger could find out so much about me.

The good news was that my credit score is above 800, which is considered excellent. The bad news was that the report was showing me responsible for a bunch of credit card debt, as well as a house in Tampa, that I don’t own. All of that extra debt is almost certainly my ex-wife’s. Our names differ by only one letter. Many of those cards, as well as the home, pre-date our divorce.

The mortgage broker sent the completed application to my apartment by messenger, and it was waiting for me when I got home. There was also a self-addressed stamped priority mail envelope, in which I would return the signed application and all of the disclosure materials they’d asked for. As I had answered questions off-the-cuff, there were quite a few errors. I also saw that, of the six credit cards listed, only one was mine. There were too many entries that would have to be corrected, so I just downloaded a new form and started over again.

I had a week’s vacation coming, and didn’t want the application to languish for that long, so I stayed up till 4:00 a.m. gathering all my paperwork, so I could take it to work the next day and make photocopies. In case you’re wondering, this is what they needed:

  • Copies of my last three months’ asset statements (checking, savings, stocks, mutual funds, 401(k), etc.)
  • Copies of 12 months’ consecutive cancelled rent checks (front and back)
  • Copies of my 2004, 2005 and 2006 W–2’s, 1099’s, K–1’s
  • Copies of my 2004 and 2005 Federal 1040 tax returns (and all schedules)
  • Copies of recent pay stubs covering a one-month period
  • A letter from my employer breaking out my bonus/commission income for the last two years
  • Copy of official government ID (driver’s license or passport)
  • A check or credit card authorization for $750, covering the application fee ($350) and the estimated cost of an appraisal ($400)

Based on past experience, I’m sure they’ll want more—e.g., proof that I no longer own the Tampa home; proof that my ex-wife’s credit cards are not mine; and so forth.

With that, I was ready to go on vacation.

To be continued…

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