How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I started in 2004 and ultimately changed to a renovation-specific focus in 2006. I originally joined the industry almost as a challenge that a friend of mine decided after moving to a new area. When I learned about renovation is the moment my job became a career.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
The one thing my customers have in common: they have a vision. Renovation is typically an unknown for most borrowers so they are searching for a way to achieve their goal of creating perfection and they want to know how to accomplish this. The most common question asked: “How does it work?” and “What does it cost?” This is always covered in an initial conversation.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
Most people have an idea of what they’re looking for by the time we’re talking. How do I make this thing into my grand vision? There are slight differences that are important to understand so we discuss those differences and then I highlight them again when we’re selecting the best loan. What is most important to you?
How long have you been in the mortgage business? What awards have you won?
I’ve been originating mortgages for 13 years. The most important awards I’ve received were for high levels of customer service most consistently between 80-100%.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
For my customers it’s often “What do I need to do?” when it comes to the work required for the home they’re looking to purchase. To start with, I ask them to make a list of their “wants” vs “needs”. With an experienced realtor, you can walk through the house and identify the “needs” a bit easier than solo. A home inspection can also help with this. Once we have a wants/needs list and a contractor (also a difficult task, ask for referrals from people you know who have had work done!) then it simply becomes a math problem. Let’s start with the needs, add in whatever wants your budget and the property can support, and go forward from there. How do we know what the property can support? The appraisal will eventually tell us but this is another place where an experienced agent can help! They can provide market data for similar properties in the area to help evaluate what your offer should be and what other homes in the area have sold for to help you make an educated decision.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
1) It’s hard. That’s not to say that it’s easy but it depends entirely on being prepared. Knowing what paperwork is required and having that ready to go will save you tons of time. 2) Down payments are high. Down payments used to require at least 20% and while they have not come down to the same levels prior to mortgage crisis you can still generally purchase a home with as little as 3.5% down. For veterans and some special programs you may even qualify for a loan with no down payment! 3) ARM loans are bad. ARM loans can be quite fantastic if you get the right ARM for the right reason. I personally used an ARM on my last home and my rate adjusted down! It’s important to understand how ARM loans work but you can save a lot when using them properly.
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?
Zillow which will help you identify properties in the area and their *potential* market value. This is a great resource to show other homes that have sold and get easy access to pictures, recent trends, and even potential rent information for investors. A mortgage calculator. Why wait to find out from the lender what your payment could be when you can find out instantly with a few simple questions. These can also tell help you determine when PMI could be removed (when applicable). GR Loan application! Complete your application, get current rates for many products, and communicate directly with me about that great house you just found!
What resources could you recommend that borrowers use to learn more about the mortgage process and how to ensure a successful home closing?
The first best resource is right here. We’ll go through the full process from the initiation of your loan all the way through the final draw for a renovation project. We’ll discuss the costs, what documents you’ll need to provide, and what each person’s responsibility will be going forward. Your realtor can also provide great information to help you prepare. While family/friends can sometimes be helpful it’s important to remember that most of them are not mortgage professionals and the home they purchased 4 years ago, with their circumstances, may have a very different set of requirements than yours.
What can borrowers do to ensure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
Be prepared! It’s important to understand what documents are requested and why they are important. We will need to validate your income, assets, and credit history and address any questions that come up. If you’re unsure about something, ask! We have a responsibility to you to provide as smooth a loan process as possible but we don’t know your circumstances as well as you do. Make sure to provide any information in a timely fashion. Often, a day or two of extra time at the beginning can result in a week or more at the end! If you’re working with a renovation loan, get a contractor! As soon as possible. Contractors are not used to being part of the home buying process and don’t have the same sense of urgency as you, your realtor, and our mortgage team. We’ll work together to get their paperwork back correctly as early as possible to ensure an on-time closing.
Summary of where you grew up: family, affiliations, college, high school, etc.
I grew up in the great Pacific North West. To this day I still miss the weather, the mountains, and the lush greenery year-round! I moved to Southern IL for a bit over a decade and recently moved to New Jersey. I’m happy to be close to a coast again! My family consists of Al and Alice (my 4 y/o pups) and May and Ginger (9 year old cats).
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
Knowing that what I do (renovation) helps people achieve their goals in ways they often had no idea could happen. That I’m helping to re-develop communities and increasing wealth for homeowners at the same time.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
I spend most of my non-work time with my dogs or playing online games with a community of friends we’ve established over 12 years. We even get together from across the nation each year!
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
In 2001 I was on the 28th story of a 42 story building during a 6.8 earthquake in Seattle. It was quite the ride!