Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
There is no typical customer. Each comes with their own goals, needs and objectives. It is very important to listen carefully as it is critical to identify what their needs are and the best way to address those. There are times when financing or refinancing a home may not be in the customer's best interests. Other times, a customer's needs may be addressed by something totally different then what they initially had in mind. In all cases, before a course of action is pursued, our customer understands what the plan is and how we are going to accomplish it.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
When I work with first time home buyers I really try to educate them on the whole buying process from selecting a Realtor, to help them figure out what they can afford, to getting them into the right mortgage program and interest rate. Rather than tell them upfront what they qualify for, I want to hear what they think they can afford both from monthly payment and down payment perspectives. Many of my customers are conservative in what they feel they can afford. When they share that with me, I can keep them from over spending. If I have customers with their sights set too high, this process gives me an opportunity to \"coach\" them down to levels they can afford.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
One of the questions I discuss with my borrowers is "how long do they plan on living in their home?". With today's low rates everyone is gravitating to the 30 year fixed rate. If a consumer is looking to move within five years for instance why would they not consider a 7/1 ARM (the first seven years is a fixed rate)? Today the difference would be approximately 1% lower in rate. On a $250,000 mortgage the first year's savings would be almost $2,500. That 1% difference is significant over the five years the borrower is planning on being in their home. By doing a 7/1 ARM our borrower can get the 1% savings and two additional years with the fixed rate in case plans are changed or delayed.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
Underwriting standards have tightened up and the need for more supporting documentation has increased dramatically. To reduce the amount of time the customer needs to complete the process we collect all of the required documentation upfront. If the requests are made upfront the customer can be assured that the \"back and forth\" requests that occur at other companies are greatly reduced at Guaranteed Rate.
What can borrowers do to insure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
The biggest contribution that borrowers can do to assist the underwriting process is to understand that our team at Guaranteed Rate has the same goals and objectives that they do. If additional documentation or questions need to be addressed, please work with your team to quickly do so. Additional documentation or questions that arise out of the underwriting of their file need to be addressed as quickly as possible. Requests from your GR team need to be dealt with quickly or delays will occur in obtaining your approval and closing on time.
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?
We have worked on a number of fund raising events that are slated towards people with special circumstances. For an example, we recently hosted an event for an uninsured woman with cancer. We brought in former members of the Steve Miller Band, provided appetizers and refreshments and raised a significant amount of money to offset some of her expenses. At Guaranteed Rate we not only want to be the best mortgage lender in our community but more importantly we want to be good corporate citizens.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
We are involved in the United States Power Squadron, Minnetonka and enjoy many outdoor activities including boating, skiing, and snowmobiling. We are also active in our Church and other community events.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I am an active boater, having boated across Lake Michigan and parts of Lake Superior. I have also sailed in the BVI. Our boat is permanently docked on Lake Minnetonka, In Excelsior, MN.