This month, Steve Abreu, the president of GMAC Inc.'s mortgage operations, warned 150 loan officers that wasting the back office's time would cost them.

He told the sales representatives at a Fort Washington, Pa., branch that from now on part of their compensation would be tied to pull-through rates — the percentage of applications that end up being converted to closed loans. GMAC wanted to cut the costs of having processors and underwriters work on loans that don't get funded. So it gave the loan officers an incentive to do better up-front screening.

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