We just closed on a house and it was the typical roller coaster of a process, but much more difficult than previous real estate transactions because of miscommunications/misunderstandings/ignorance about our recent parental leaves.
If you are applying for a mortgage and have taken any kind of parental leave or reduced schedule to care for your kid, I highly encourage you to get all documentation around your leave from your HR department prior to the loan application. We were told to write a letter of explanation and were told that it was “perfect, all good” from our loan officer and were both pre-approved and conditionally approved with it. But then a week before closing the underwriter wanted more details. It became the world’s worst game of telephone because underwriting wouldn’t speak to the HR person, the HR people only wanted to answer in emails (not letter attachments) and so on. Also HR did not give one hoot about the timeline we were under–had we been told we needed more docs at initial application, there would have been plenty of time.
We had to delay closing because of the back and forth, thankfully the sellers were understanding and after getting multiple managers involved we were cleared. We planned carefully for having kids, saving up in advance to be able to take both paid and unpaid leave and we don’t regret a moment of the time with the babies.
I know the banks have to do their due diligence and adhere to lending rules, but it would be wonderful to have more people in the industry understand what’s needed to help new parents in the process. An example–the underwriter rejected a letter from the employer because it said “parental leave” and not “maternity leave”. And my wife returned first to part-time hours for a few months which they said was not “appropriate employment” to be working at all during parental leave–which is entirely false.
Hopefully other people have better experiences, but this whole process was exhausting (having babies during a pandemic has been hard enough!) and maybe someday our country will move out of the stone age and have better universal parental leave that is widely accepted!