Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over two decades of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. Shmuel provides a uniquely holistic approach to comprehensive real estate and financial matters that goes well beyond any single transaction. Shmuel is an award-winning financier recognized for maximizing the short-term and long-term objectives of his client. As a contributing writer to many local and regional newspapers and publications, his insights have been featured in the media for many topics, including mortgages, personal finance, appraisals, and real estate trends.

Be Careful With Your ATM

By: Shmuel Shayowitz

An older woman went to her local bank branch to withdraw some cash from her account. She handed her ATM card to the teller and said, “I would like to withdraw $10.” The teller sighed and hastily told her, “Ma’am, you need to use the ATM for withdrawals less than $1000.” The old lady asked, “Why? Why can’t I withdraw just $10 if I am already here?” The teller impatiently said, “Those are our rules. It takes up too much of our valuable time.” She concluded, “if there is nothing further, please move off the line as a customer is waiting behind you.” She then returned the AMT card to the old lady.

The old lady remained unphased. Without a second of hesitation, she slid her card across the counter back to the teller and said, “I would like to withdraw all the money in my account, please.” The teller was stunned as the woman’s account information began loading on the screen a few moments later. She excused herself and went to speak with the branch manager. She returned, unable to make eye contact with the woman, and said, “My apologies Mrs. Smith, you have $1.5 million in your account, and our bank does not have that much cash currently available.”

The manager now raced to the counter from his corner office. “We are very sorry for the inconvenience. Is there something I can assist you with now?” The old lady asked, “How much can I withdraw right now?” After a brief discussion behind the counter, the manager exclaimed, “As of today, you can withdraw any amount up to $5,000.” Mrs. Smith looked at the teller and said she wanted to immediately withdraw $5,000 from her account. They asked the woman to have a seat, and they would return as soon as they could with her cash.

Twenty-five minutes later, the teller and manager returned and respectfully presented the woman with stacks of bills totaling her request. The manager said, “once again, we are terribly sorry for the trouble, and we would do anything to earn your business. Is there anything else we can do for you at this time?” The old lady opened her purse and placed one of the $10 bills in her wallet. She then asked the teller to deposit the balance of $4,990 back into her account. As Mrs. Smith prepared to leave, she turned to the manager and said, I will be back next week to pick up my balance of $1,499,990. Please make sure it’s ready for me.”

I heard this story a few times over the past year and thought of many morals and lessons. In a world where technology can streamline business, it should never come at the expense of proper customer service. It also reminds banks and companies that while it’s good to implement “policies and procedures,” it should never become overly bureaucratic with nonsense protocols – too common in today’s marketplace. Admittedly, there are already enough rules and regulations in the mortgage business to be working with companies that don’t know how to use common sense.

I often train agents and sales professionals, reminding them to be careful of their “ATM” – “Actions That Matter.” In a world full of so much competition and options, one must be mindful of the actions that matter to help clients achieve their desired outcomes. True professionals must figure out ways to provide efficient and personalized solutions while using reasonable discretion. I often hear horror stories from callers who detail the red-tape they endured to get their mortgage in the past.

Finally, while homeowners should never irrationally use their house as an “ATM” it is prudent to position yourself for financial success given the changing times ahead. In an environment such as the one we are in now, it’s an excellent time to see if it makes sense to “withdraw” any money from your house, given all the equity that has appreciated over the past few years. With continued Federal monetary tightening, it will only become more challenging to get a mortgage in the future.

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