Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
My customers vary. I work with a lot of first time home buyers as well as borrowers that are purchasing their third or fourth home. Every borrower is different and there are many different questions that need answers. Some of the more common questions:
-What is the minimum down payment?
-What is the maximum I'm pre-approved for?
-What are the closing costs?
-What is the interest rate?
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
My customers range from first-time home buyers to seasoned real estate investors. I analyze their credit scores, liabilities, income, and assets. The first major concern is that they can handle the monthly payment so I always analyze the debt-to-income ratio to make sure it not only fulfills underwriting guidelines, but also provides a benefit to the customer. Next, I match the borrower's credit profile with a specific program like FHA, Conventional, Jumbo, VA, 203K, or first time home buyer.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
I would concentrate on what you want your monthly payment to be and don't forget about property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and any homeowner's association fees. This is a great time to purchase a property if you currently rent, because in many cases your monthly payment would be the same or less if you were to purchase a property. Additionally, don't put down more than you are comfortable with. Customers often put down every last dollar just to get 20% down and avoid PMI, but then they don't have any reserve savings in case of emergency. No one likes the idea of paying PMI, but you don't want to stretch your savings too thin just avoid paying PMI.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
Many borrowers think that you need a 20% down payment to get a house...not the case. With an FHA loan, you only need 3.5% down and a minimum of 640 credit score. Also, a conventional loan can also be done with only 3% down and PMI.
What can borrowers do to ensure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
Provide the requested documentation in a timely manner. There is no question the documentation requirements are excessive for mortgages these days. However, failing to provide the documentation or questioning the need for it only slows down the process. Guaranteed Rate utilizes a Digital Mortgage process where customers can upload their documents as PDF's right to their loan account. It doesn't cut down on the documentation, but it makes it a lot easier for customers to access their loan account and provide the necessary documents conveniently and quickly.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
I love to run. I'm in a marathon training group every Saturday morning. I run a marathon every spring and every fall. I also spend a lot of time playing guitar and play with a guitar ensemble one night a week at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. I also like watching Chicago Blackhawk's hockey.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I have never owned a car. Here in Chicago, you can walk or ride the EL anywhere!