Saturday, March 15, 2008

How to Lose a Deal in Ten Days

Losing is never easy. And just because you lose, as you will some of the time, it doesn't mean you're a loser. So when you know you're going to lose, do it like a winner. People aren’t out to get you. They just do what they think is in their best interest and they aren’t thinking about how they can 'get' you. So don’t take it personally. The trick is to learn whatever you can and move on.

I recently had a client who after speaking with several different mortgage specialists, decided to use my services. Yeah, victory! Not so fast. This is the beginning of the story and like all good stories, this one has lots of twists and turns.

The mortgage application was unique because the borrower just moved to Canada and worked for a company that was also new to Canada. I applied at a major bank that was known to offer a lending program suited to the borrower. Since the company was also new to Canada, the bank was giving us a difficult time with the application. The applicant was more than patient, working with us over a period of two weeks, providing the additional documentation the bank requested to help get the loan approved.

One of the other mortgage specialists the borrower had been in touch with worked at a branch at the same bank that I applied to. He did a good job, staying in touch with the borrower the whole time. He told the borrower he could easily get the approval that we were working so hard to get. Seems strange he was so confident he could get the approval we were having such a difficult time getting, at the same bank!

After much effort, we finally got the word, our application was approved! Now we just needed to get a written commitment from the bank and get the borrower signed up. The deal was closing in just a few days and we didn’t have a lot of time -- by now the applicant was really on edge. The lender promised to have the paperwork to us the next day by noon but they did not deliver. The borrower finally lost his patience and called the mortgage specialist at the branch. I finally got a written commitment that afternoon at around 4 PM but by that time the borrower had already met with the mortgage specialist at the branch where they produced a written commitment before we did.

The borrower called me the next day and explained that he wanted to go with the mortgage offered to him by the branch because even though my mortgage was from the same bank, he felt that the branch did a better job getting him the mortgage than we did. My channel was slow and even once we had the approval we failed to deliver the paperwork at the promised time. He wanted to continue dealing with the branch. Here’s the rub.

He was also being told by his branch that due to internal politics, his branch would not be able to fulfill the mortgage, unless I cancelled my mortgage application with the bank first. Since we applied for the mortgage first, according to the bank’s policy, the branch was not allowed to offer him the mortgage. Later that day I sent an e-mail to the bank, cancelling my mortgage application. (I added a few comments about why the application was being cancelled and how the poor service they provided was the reason for it, but that's another story.)

Some people would argue that I should not have cancelled my mortgage application and would have then won the business by default. I disagree. If someone doesn't want to do business with you, you cannot force them. In the end, the applicant was pleased with the way I handled things, despite the fact that I did not fulfill the mortgage for him. As a result, he referred me to several other clients and gave a positive report back to the person who originally referred him to me.

What would you have done in this case?