How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I have been in residential finance since 2001. I started out as a wholesale account executive and transitioned into working directly with consumers in 2007. I love putting the pieces of the puzzle together to structure financing in a way that makes the most financial sense for the client. I also enjoy figuring out way to close loans that other companies are unable to close. Most of all, I like the reward I get when I am able to help a client buy a home and make the process fun.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
My typical customer is highly educated, well qualified and they want details (if you can't tell, I work with a lot of engineers =) ). They typically come to me having already done a lot of research. My best skill is the ability to synthesize their particular scenario quickly and be able to explain how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I let them know about down payment options, loan term options as well as closing costs and some unique tricks that we can use to lower the overall cost of the financing.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
I ask a lot of questions. The more you know about a customer, the better prepared you can be to make loan option suggestions. I want them to think about their mortgage as it relates to their overall financial picture and not to think about just the mortgage in a bubble.
How long have you been in the mortgage business? What awards have you won?
I have been in housing finance since 2001.
I was named to the top 40 under the age of 40 in 2011.
I have been ranked in the top 200 in the nation each year since 2011 including #48 in the nation, #15 in CA and #3 in Orange County in 2015 when I closed 318 loans for $138,000,000.
National Morgage Professional Magazine named the company that I founded in 2007, Stewart & Soss Mortgage, as one of the 'Greenest Mortgage Companies in America" due to our early adoption of a paperless working environment.
I served on the Board of Directors for the California Association of Mortgage Professionals and was the President of the Silicon Valley Chapter in 2011-2012.
What are the pros and cons of a fixed rate mortgage versus an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
I like to think of a fixed rate like an insurance policy. Assuming one qualifies for both (not always the case), a fixed rate comes with a higher monthly payment. If you think of the difference in monthly payment as an insurance premium that protects against future increases in payment, then most people are apt to make a more informed decision. There is never an absolute right or wrong when it comes to making a decision of getting an ARM vs a Fixed. It usually comes down to a math problem and determining the probability on how long someone plans on staying in the home vs. their appetite for risk.
As an adviser to my clients, my job is to ask a lot of questions and make appropriate recommendations to them.
Tell us about a specific challenging borrowing situation and how you got the mortgage closed and funded.
I received phone call one afternoon at the office from a woman who's first statement to me was "Full disclosure, you are the 8th lender I have called in the past three weeks". She went on to tell me the troubles she was having getting approved for the purchase price that they wanted to get to. As it turns out, we were able to qualify her with a 1st and 2nd combo loan and use just the most recent year of tax filings instead of a two year average. This was what the other seven lenders missed. She was able to get into contract and we closed on her new home 30 days later.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
As a lender, this may feel counter intuitive, but I always tell first time buyers to speak with two or three lenders to determine who they feel most comfortable moving forward with. Trust with your lender is a huge factor in buying your first home, so it's important that you do your due diligence and decide on the lender up front. The last thing you want to do is to be shopping around for lenders after you have already found your dream home.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
We have a 5% down program for purchase prices up to $1m. That's a program that not a lot of other lenders have access to.
How has the mortgage industry changed since you started, and what would you expect in the future?
It has come full circle and then some. The biggest changes are the additional documentation needed to get a file approved and the regulations that require a lot of additional people touching every file before it goes to closing. I expect there to be a gradual loosening of the most arduous regulations and interpretations of the laws moving forward. I also expect new and innovative products to eventually come to market as the rates increase and lenders have an appetite for a little more risk.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
The paperwork required seems to be the most difficult for most clients. Most understand that they have to provide w2's and paystubs and asset statements. However, it's the detailed explanations and the supporting documentation that seems to make it hard for some clients.
Some of the solutions that we provide include secure upload of documents so clients aren't having to mail or fax or scan/email unsecured financial documents. We also ask for as much as we can up front so we aren't chasing paperwork at the 11th hour.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
I'm an overachiever. Here is an interview that I gave with author Pete Mitchell about the top 5 common myths that people have when buying a home.
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?
Houzz for ideas about home remodeling and the Zillow app for house hunting.
What resources could you recommend that borrowers use to learn more about the mortgage process and how to ensure a successful home closing?
I recommend having a consultation with your lender and your Realtor together. It's important for all three to be on the same page with qualifying and home expectations in order to have a successful home purchase.
What can borrowers do to insure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
Be sure to be super responsive and keep all of your financial documents handy. Of course, don't go make any major purchases or get your credit checked unnecessarily, either.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
My bio doesn't lie. I actually have done stand-up comedy. It's terrifying.