Credit is king. Don't even think about that terrific interest rate -- let alone that dreamy Craftsman home or upscale downtown condo -- if your FICO is out of whack. It seems that even veteran loan officers are being forced to ask you for the minutest of details before submitting your loan package to underwriting. "I only need two more pieces of information" can easily be a daily request with even the most complete files still drawing intense lender scrutiny. A friend of mine who happens to be the most thorough loan representative I know says his biggest challenge of the past six months is explaining to existing customers that they "can't even qualify for a mortgage under 5 percent." Why did things get so tight? A decade of cheap money and incredibly flexible ...
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