How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I earned my BS in Finance from the University of Illinois & MBA in Marketing & Management from NYU before joining the mortgage business full time in 2002. My education coupled with my experience in banking, marketing and consulting, makes working with clients to personalize their financial goals, a natural fit! Helping people navigate home financing is also in my blood. I enjoyed over a decade in the business together with my father and mentor, Ray Cohen, before his untimely death in June of 2013.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
I work with all types of people with varying financing knowledge and needs. Questions usually include, how much do I have to put down and what can I afford. I suggest that understanding for how much you can qualify is only part of the conversation, the key is with how much you are comfortable spending on a monthly basis.
Working with first time home buyers is very rewarding as it’s their first experience in home ownership. However, I believe each time a home is purchased, or even refinanced, everyone is excited and possibly a bit stressed, whether it’s their 1st, or 5th time around. I appreciate the opportunity to ease the process.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
Managing expectations is key to a smooth and stress free transaction. I listen closely to ascertain the goals of my clients and discuss ways to best meet them. For how much they can qualify is only part of the conversation, the real key is how much are they comfortable spending on a monthly basis. Going through their income, assets and liabilities as they are now and how they expect them to be in the future, assists in finding the right financing solution. That solution includes not only the mortgage program, but also the down payment options available. Communication throughout the process is key so clients aren't left feeling alone until they buy a house nor during the process until closing.
What are the pros and cons of a fixed rate mortgage versus an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
One person's "pro" is another's "con." This is why exceptional personalized service is key to determine how the pro's can take the client into home ownership. A single person or new couple looking to have a family in the near future, is not likely to stay in their 1st home 10 years, let alone 30 so an ARM may make more financial sense. The downside of an ARM is that it can (and likely will) adjust after a fixed period so buyers must understand how the adjustment may affect their monthly payment. Buyer(s) securing a loan for a larger home or specific plans to stay in that home long term, may find that 30 year fixed is the only logical choice so they can count on the consistency of their payments. With the volatility of the market and clients' ever changing needs, I appreciate the opportunity to assist in determining the right course of action for now. Should one's goals change, I can always refinance the loan as well.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
I stress that understanding for how much they can qualify is only part of the conversation, the real key is how much are they comfortable spending on a monthly basis.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
Managing expectations is key to a smooth and stress free transaction. I thoroughly explain financing from pre-approval to final loan approval on through the closing as well as keep all parties updated every step of the way.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
A misconception is that you need 20% down to avoid Mortgage Insurance. There are creative ways around it including a Home Equity Line of Credit.
Some say an ARM is a “bad” or “dangerous” option. I suggest that there are no bad or good overall choices, just options that work best for those making the mortgage payments.
What can borrowers do to ensure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
A thorough investigation of a borrowers' financial landscape during the pre-approval process is a crucial beginning. We are a team working together towards the common goal of home ownership. Transparency and expediency are vital for a smooth transaction. For all pre-approval, I secure income, assets and liability documentation to clear the path to home ownership. Buying a home is exciting and stressful, I let borrowers concentrate on the excitement as I ease that stress.
Summary of where you grew up: family, affiliations, college, high school, etc.
I’m a native of the North Shore and enjoyed living both in NYC and LA, but Chicago is truly my sweet home.
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
My clients all come by referral. Knowing I was able to make a positive difference on the lives of clients and earning their trust to assist their clients, family, and friends in the same manor, gives me a great sense of pride.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
As the mother of a young boy and girl, I love spending time with them and my husband. Sports, exploration and playdates fill a lot of our time. I enjoy sporting events, film, the theater, dining out and traveling with my family and friends as well. I’ve been called an avid White Sox fan from time to time as well.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I managed to get myself into the White Sox World Series celebration party right after they won the Championship in Houston in 2005. I know it was over a decade ago, but it was a very unique opportunity and pretty cool.