What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
From the very beginning of the process, I collect and review documentation with an underwriter's eye to figure out exactly where my clients stand financially. Once I know what they qualify for I can walk them through the various options depending on their short term vs. long term needs. With my detailed knowledge base, I develop a trust with my clients and they know the pros and cons of every scenario. This all happens well before the actual mortgage process starts. Because of the time I take to go over all the options with my clients, I've had people that chose to use a different bank call me up and refer me to their friends and family.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
First time home buyers are my favorite clients to work with and I love to educate them on the process and let them know the questions they didn't know to ask. When buying your first home it is important not to overextend yourself. Usually it is either a borrower's income or assets (read: down payment amount) that is the limiting factor when it come to qualifying for a loan but sometimes it is helpful to take a maximum monthly payment that the client feels comfortable with and work backwards.
I would also recommend to have a decent amount of cash left over after the purchase as being a homeowner can be expensive - you don't want to have to stress over the upkeep for the home.
Finally and perhaps most importantly I recommend a first time home buyer to start speaking with a mortgage professional as early in their search as possible. If your income, assets or credit are not where they need to be to get the home you want I can explain what you need to do to be ready when you find your dream home. I have worked with clients for over two years before they even put their first bid on a property.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
I'd say that most customers find the various document requests the most onerous part of the loan process. While we do our best to avoid it, more often than not borrowers are required to provide documents at a number of different stages in the loan process. One of the legacies of the mortgage crisis is that income, assets and credit are scrutinized like never before. While this has led to some of the best loans being underwritten in the past few years, it means borrowers need to document some things in multiple different ways at multiple times during the loan process.
I set expectations upfront for how long the loan process will take and what to do and what not to do (i.e. speak to me before making any other financial decisions like buying a new car or depositing $10,000 in cash from your mattress). As long as there is a constant dialogue and borrowers understand why an underwriter is asking for something that wasn't asked for before (your most recent bank statement shows that $10,000 cash you deposited without telling me) the process can still be smooth. Communication is key and can limit any pain on all sides of the transaction.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
When I am not helping people with their home loans, I am out at a sporting event or on the golf course. Vacations usually include SCUBA diving, skiing or getting lost in a foreign city. I love exploring new restaurants and a great glass of wine.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I was at St. Andrews when Will and Kate were there and had classes with them but no - I did not get invited to the royal wedding.