How Returning an Overdue Library Book Declined a Mortgage Loan


Okay…it’s not just the overdue library book…we have a few other factors involved with this scenario.   In February I began working with buyer who was contemplating buying his first home, a condo to be exact.   We were able to offer a preapproval based on:

  • mid-credit score of 705
  • 100% LTV Fannie Mae My Community with LPMI (Lender Paid Mortgage Insurance)
  • 5 year fixed 10 year interest only payments (he qualified for fully amortized but opted to have flexibility with his payments)

The buyer, we’ll call him “Joe”, makes an offer on a condo that is in the process of going through a conversion.   The builder also has a “preferred lender” and will only provide a seller credit to the buyer if the buyer uses their lender.   Joe elects to stay with me because the builder’s lender cannot offer the same product and payment options, even though the seller credit was significant. 

Here’s all the scoop:

Joe had an old collection on his credit report from a library book that was overdue.  We had loan approval so I advised Joe to not pay it off until after closing.   Paying off collections lowers your credit score: the credit scoring system recognizes it as new activity on a collection.    Joe finds the book a few months into the transaction and returns it to the public library and paid his overdue collection.   It’s a noble action and would have been perfectly fine…had he done it after closing.

Joe also wanted to make sure he was getting the best deal and decided to continue shopping lenders even though we were locked and approved with his mortgage.  Shop, shop, shop…he did…and the lenders ran his credit report over and over again.   30 inquires over a couple of months HURTS your credit scores.

The condo conversion took months to complete (it was suppose to be done in early May and it won’t be finished until later this month)…so Joe’s credit report expired.   Typically, credit reports are valid for 120 days.   This is when we made the discovery that Joe’s credit score had dropped 40 points.   Forty points may not sound like a lot to you, however…zero down financing is very sensative to credit scores.  There is a tremendous difference between 660 and 700 with regards to your credit score…especially when you’re looking at 100% financing (zero down).   

Joe is a great candidate for FHA financing, however the condo (being a conversion) is not.   Zero down financing with a 660 mid score is not a pretty option.

Lessons (if you’re getting ready to buy or refinance a home…if you’re not, a different strategy may better suit you):

  1. Don’t pay off collections prior to closing UNLESS it is required by the underwriter.   (Pay them off after closing and be sure to get a documentation that they are paid).
  2. To have the best credit score, try to have 3 established accounts that you use at least every 30 days.  This could just be charging a tank of gas and then paying it off every month.   When revolving accounts go “unactive” for a couple months, they are considered “closed” by the scoring system which does not help your score. 
  3. Keep your credit balances below 30% of the available credit line.
  4. If you’re going to shop your Mortgage Professional, don’t let other LOs pull your credit.   You all ready have your scores and that is all the information a LO needs for a rate quote.
  5. Your documentation (such as credit reports, paystubs, etc.) are only valid for a certain time period.   With longer transactions,  be aware that your credit report may be re-pulled and/or employment may be re-verified.
  6. Return your library books before they become overdue.


  1. Great post Rhonda! I found myself laughing just a bit because I posted a credit score post myself right around the same time as you. It’s funny how some folks just won’t listen and cause all sorts of problems for themselves. I hope you can save the deal!

  2. Thanks, Tim. It’s especially frustrating because I could do this loan over and over again just a few months ago. You wouldn’t beleive (actually YOU would) how many different scenarios we tried to no luck. In combination with the rates rising and Fannie Mae increasing the rates on My Community, his rates would be in the mid 7s and not interest only…it’s not what the client wants and could really damage him in the long run.

  3. Rhonda – All I can say is incredible! Knowing how much you care about people in general, I can only imagine your frustration.

  4. Tony, I’m sure you can relate! I had no idea my client was such a busy “shopper”.

  5. Update…not only was this client a busy shopper…he had two loans going on at the same time. No wonder he was such a nice guy when I gave him the dreadful news! Am I too trusting?

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