Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
None of my clients as typical! Banks tailor their customers mortgage experience based on "typical" customer profiles. I individually tailor the mortgage experience to my clients. In today’s world, there are no more “cookie cutter” loans—every transaction has challenges. The number one question I get from clients is, “What's more important: rates, fees or points?” The answer can be different for every client; If someone plans to have a loan for a very short time (two years or so), trading a slightly higher rate for a larger rebate to cover closing costs may make sense. Conversely, someone who expects to have a loan for a very long time may benefit from a lower rate attained by paying “points”. As far as fees are concerned, you have to make a distinction between lender fees (underwriting, document prep, processing, etc.) and third-party fees (title, escrow, appraisal, recording, notary). This is why I provide my clients with a written loan estimate of all the fees involved at the beginning so there are No surprises at the close of escrow.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
Step One - Active Listening! Too often new clients come to me, because their previous loan officer wasn't listening to them, they were telling them. I begin by having my clients "tell" me what they want to accomplish with their mortgage loan. Goals are important when choosing the right mortgage. A mortgage can be the largest part of a family’s financial portfolio and the right mortgage can facilitate many financial goals from; investing, to tax advantages, to security, and financing educations, etc.
Step Two - Showing my clients how I can help them accomplish their goals.
Step Three - Making the process as streamline and stress free as possible. My number one rule; close on time, every time with NO surprises.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
(1.) Getting prequalified is the same as getting preapproved - Though these two terms may sound the same, there is a world of difference between them. You can get prequalified in minutes. However, the preapproval process is much more through. These days, a prequalification isn't worth much. Sellers, by and large, prefer a preapproval since that's a much more accurate representation of your ability to actually buy the home. By using our digital app you can get a true preapproval in the same time it would take to get a prequalification form a different lender. When getting ready to purchase a home, make sure you get preapproved with Guaranteed Rate and leave the prequalification behind.
(2.) You need to put 20% down - There was a time when putting 20% down was the gold standard when buying a home. However, those days have come and gone. In today's market, most loans require less than 6% down. In fact, most FHA loans only require as little as 3.5% down and, if you qualify, loan programs through the Veteran's Administration (VA) often don't require any money down at all.
(3.) You will almost always get the best mortgage interest rates at the bank where you have a checking account - While some banks do give their customers discounts, it’s unlikely your bank will offer the best interest rate available simply because you bank there. Many banks now limit their loans to only borrowers who neatly fit into their approval box, approving “perfect loans”, but not the “good-enough” loans. At Guaranteed Rate we can offer mortgage rates and terms that fit our client’s specific needs.
What resources could you recommend that borrowers use to learn more about the mortgage process and how to ensure a successful home closing?
The best resource you can have when obtaining a mortgage, and navigating the home financing process, is an experienced loan officer. As such I offer my clients the confidence to relax and allow a professional to guide them through the process to close of escrow smoothly and with no surprises.
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
I recently read, that working as a loan officer was ranked the third “Happiest” Job in America, and I totally agree! I’ve been a Loan Officer for over twenty years and I have enjoyed every minute of the fast-paced, high expectation career. I enjoy meeting new people, and staying in touch with past clients. Some of my clients have been with me for twenty years, and I can truly say we are more good friends than business associates. I believe this is because I focus on helping my clients first and foremost, and remembering that each and every one of them has a different story, a unique life experience, and their own personal dreams and goals for the future.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
I am enjoying exploring our new home, New England, especially the outdoors. The array of options from biking, hiking, skiing, boating, etc. is amazing. I am looking forward to trying them all.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I spent the early part of my childhood in New Zealand. It was an amazing experience. One of my fondest memories as a child was never having to wear shoes, even to school! Even though we had to wear uniforms to school and sandals were part of the uniform, we would just carry them so we had a full uniform, but never put them on. Ironically, I now get accused of owning way too many shoes, but I still love to run around barefoot whenever I can.