How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I have been a mortgage lender going on 5 years - I find mortgage lending to be a great privilege to be part of my client's most profound event and largest purchase.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
I work with a range of clients from first time home buyers, to seasoned investors, clients looking to upgrade to a larger home, to retiree's looking to downsize and leverage their equity. The typical questions have to do with the process and costs, which I am always upfront with.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
The first step is to help my clients understand what they can afford and the pros and cons of different first time home buyer programs and down payment assistance programs.
What are the pros and cons of a fixed rate mortgage versus an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
If you are planning on staying in your home longer than 5 years, a fixed rate mortgage will allow you to build the equity in your home better than an ARM. The ARM is better if you are planning on selling in a few years and know that the property values will increase.
Tell us about a specific challenging borrowing situation and how you got the mortgage closed and funded.
I was working with a young couple purchasing their first home in a large condo complex with the state's down payment assistance program and the investor for that program had declined the condo project. By creating a win win for both the buyer and seller's realtor, along with the buyer and the property management company - together, we were able to get the information needed from the construction company that was handling a renovation project as a result of a lawsuit against the builder. The investor told me after they approved the project that 4 other lenders had tried to get this condo approval for this down payment assistance program and they all failed, because they never got the correct information that they were looking for. By creating a collaborative environment, I find I can handle situations that other lenders walk away from.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
Once you purchase your first home, you pay yourself every month by building equity in your home whether or not your home appreciates - why build your landlord's wealth by paying rent every month! Once you live in your home your equity grows over the years, you can leverage that to purchase your next home or use the equity to handle life's challenges. Give me time in the beginning of buying a home, to discuss the process, programs available and help you understand what is expected in every step, so we can make your first time home buying a smooth and happy experience.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
There are home buying programs for first time home buyers, that will help with downpayment and closing costs, and lower your MI (mortgage insurance) if you put less than 20% downpayment. These are fabulous programs to get started in owning your first home.
How has the mortgage industry changed since you started, and what would you expect in the future?
Although there is more government regulation since I started, I am finding more support from State and Federal programs to help first time home buyers purchase their first home in the form of Down Payment Assistance Programs, these vary from state to state.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
The biggest issues I have found, is around sourcing assets used for the down payment or closing costs. It is important to understand that funds moved from one account, or gifted from a family member have to be sourced upfront and a lot easier to keep track of if you take the time to do this upfront.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
That once you get the UW approval you are done, there are so many decisions that buyers make, like changing jobs during the process or buying a car, that affects their approval. Once this happens, a lot of work has to be done to address and approve the loan.
What 2 or 3 mobile apps would you recommend for home buyers or house hunters, and why? What Smart Apps do you recommend your customers use for the house hunting process?
I like the Zillow App and am a contributor to the home buying question and answer section.
What resources could you recommend that borrowers use to learn more about the mortgage process and how to ensure a successful home closing?
By going to my website borrowers can see what the 5 major lenders rates are and pull down a number of eBooks on the mortgage process, refinancing and appraisals.
What can borrowers do to ensure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
Sign the mortgage application and get us the requested documents as soon as possible. If you have questions on what is needed ask me as soon as possible. The earlier you get us the documents the smoother the process. The devil is in the details, we need to figure out any issues upfront so we can resolve them.
Are you active in any local associations or community groups, and at what level? What goals and/or success have you helped these groups achieve?
I am on the Management Team for the Chicago NAPW Chapter (www.napw.com) and Co-chair a soup kitchen program for the Women's Club of Evanston (http://www.wcofe.org/) where we feed over 100 people on Saturday's. In the past I lead a team of 1000 people from my Church during a conference to work for the day in 25 social service agencies through out Chicago in a one day event. We did everything from working with Veterans, to painting apartments for homeless teenagers and landscaping a homeless shelter.
Are you active in any fundraising organizations? What goals and/or success have you helped them achieve?
In the past, I was a board member for Teen Living Programs and during my 8 years on the board was able to raise a substantial amount of donations and brought on some key board members. Today I am part of the Emeritus Board of TLP and am involved in our 40th Anniversary Fund raiser Gala. I also raised $180,000 for a non-profit as a contract employee in 6 months.
Summary of where you grew up: family, affiliations, college, high school, etc.
I grew up in a Greek Family, one of five children to Nina and Tony Gaspar. Our family owned a small grocery store and all five kids worked our way through the University of Cincinnati at that store. I was active at NCH High School, played the French Horn, sang in Choir and was star of my high school musical! I played sports for my Greek Orthodox Church in Cincy and was in their Greek Dance Troup, and remained active to today! I attended the University of Cincinnati in the Business College and was the first woman president of Alpha Kappa Psi a business fraternity. I also created and launched the CSBS - an organization of all the presidents of the colleges business organizations to provide cohesive support for the business college in it's expansion pursuit.
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
The joy of a closing for a first time home buyer - there is nothing as wonderful as seeing a person taking the keys of their first home.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
I do a lot with my family, I know that my teenage daughter will be off to college in a few years and relish every moment I get with her. I love to garden and grow vegetables and I cook most meals for my family - having dinner together is a priority to catch up and talk about what is happening in our lives.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
Hey I am a Greek Girl and I love to cook Greek and DANCE!!