Ever have a problem getting a home loan despite having good credit? Ever have the bank say it’s unhappy with the appraisal, or ask why did you miss a credit card payment three years ago, or tell you (as Bank of America told me) that its records show a lien on your property for a parking ticket that you paid seven years ago?
Well, you’re not alone. These days, even the former chairman of the Federal Reserve is looked at as a questionable credit risk.
As The New York Times noted, Ben Bernanke, who pulls in six-figure sums for giving a speech now that he’s stepped down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, told a conference of the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care in Chicago, “I recently tried to refinance my mortgage and I was unsuccessful in doing so.”
Bloomberg News reports that when the audience laughed, Bernanke followed up. “I’m not making that up,” he said.
The problem in this case is probably that the lenders’ so-called underwriters–sometimes nothing more than computerized credit reports and glorified box-checkers of forms–ding borrowers if they’ve recently switched jobs or, like Bernanke, gone from a wage position to being self-employed.
To the box-checkers, it doesn’t matter that he can command $200,000 for a speech. Can’t you just hear some functionary on the other end of the line? “But, Mr. Bernanke, could you please present the bank with letters from organizations attesting that they will pay you that much in the coming years?
Welcome to the real world of small businesspeople and the self-employed, Mr. Bernanke.