How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I have been in the banking and mortgage industry for nearly 20 years, initially beginning my career in financial services as a Licensed Investment Banker and Retail Bank Branch Manager. During my years as a Retail Banker, I discovered that when conducting financial reviews or investment planning for my clients, I would habitually gravitate to the mortgage/properties owned portion of their balance sheet. I realized that I thoroughly enjoyed improving my client’s overall financial outlook and saving them money by lowering their interest rates or consolidating debt to take advantage of tax deductions. If my clients were not yet homeowners, I would share with them the financial benefits personal satisfaction of home-ownership. This was a crystalizing epiphany for me and became my focus niche!
I found this to be a great opportunity to concentrate my profession on residential and commercial financing and collaborate with my fellow Financial Advisors to cover all bases for my clients. When I first entered the mortgage industry full time, there was a lot of fear and concern about the overall economy and uncertainty of the direction of mortgage lending amidst the ever-changing process. I feel that by properly educating my clients about the mortgage process as it relates to them directly, it will alleviate inherent concerns and facilitate a free-flowing, pleasant experience.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
I have the honor of advising a wide range of borrowers from first-time homebuyers to the most seasoned real estate investor with multiple properties. I appreciate the fact that there is no such thing as "typical" when it comes to my clients or their respective financing circumstances and questions. I have provided mortgage strategies for borrowers presenting varying needs including relocation, credit restoration, short sales and challenging mortgage scenarios.
Although my clientele is diverse, a common denominator is the desire to work with a knowledgeable, well-intended mortgage professional who has their best interests at heart. I take great care in explaining the various options and collaborating with my clients to decide what solution might work best in their particular situation.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
Our amazing team structure offers everything our borrowers need from start to finish. We are committed to a collaborative process where our team works hand-in-hand towards the shared goal of providing the BEST service and value for our clients.
My philosophy is to educate my clients and help them understand their options while also setting realistic expectations from the outset. I first request that my clients complete my online application. This leverages time and gives me the opportunity to learn about the client as it relates to general application information, employment, income, credit score and assets.
Another vital parameter is the timeframe a borrower expects to own the property, what their intended use will be and how quickly they would like to pay off the mortgage
balance - - if applicable. Understanding my borrowers timeframe and intentions up front allows me to customize a mortgage solution for their specific needs and financing goals.
Communication is essential during a purchase or refinance, which is why I ensure my clients have access to real-time daily updates on their file. The keys to a successful and delightful mortgage experience are very straightforward: Conversation, Application, Documentation, Team Introduction, and consistent consultation!
What are the pros and cons of a fixed rate mortgage versus an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
A misconception is that adjustable rate loans are undesirable or risky. Statistically, most clients remain in their home or more specifically, their home loan for 5 to 7 years. This means an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) may make financial sense - - as typically the interest rate is lower and one would be moving or refinancing from that loan prior to the interest rate adjustment. Adjustable Rate Loans offer lower initial rates interest rates and therefore, lower monthly payments. However, the ARM's have a risk that at some point the rate can change and go higher, therefore, increasing the monthly payment. With education on how an ARM adjusts and ensuring confidence that it is the right loan option for the specific financing scenario, the ARM may prove to be a fantastic tool to save money with a lower interest rate and payment.
The main advantage of a fixed-rate loan is that the borrower is protected from sudden and potentially significant increases in their monthly mortgage payment. Fixed Rate Loans typically offer security and stability, as a fixed rate loan payment will never change for the entire term of the loan. The downside to a fixed rate loan is that the rate is higher than most other loan options available.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
The best advice I could give to a first time home buyer would be to start the mortgage financing process early and prepare by familiarizing themselves with basic mortgage concepts. As my clients’ trusted advisor, I work hard to educate and help them navigate through this process. I also advise my clients that although obtaining a low rate on a mortgage is important, it is also vital that we analyze the total cost of the transaction and make sure that it is best suited for their overall financial strategy and goals.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
The most difficult part of the process is the collection of financial and asset documentation. To facilitate this, I provide my clients with a comprehensive list of the items needed and explain the timeline we’ll follow from application to settlement. The next step is to organize the documents and ensure we have them uploaded within our system. We make this process easier with the use of TransferSafe, an online, secure digital document management tool. Not only does it provide a secure medium to upload supporting documentation to us, TransferSafe also itemizes received documents, provides digital tracking checklists and aids in minimizing multiple requests for the same documentation.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
The top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process are:
1. You must put down 20% to buy a home. Truth: We have products for home buyers in which you can put as little as 3% down and get a great rate!
2. It is very difficult to get a mortgage. Truth: Getting a mortgage is difficult only if you are not prepared. Getting a Pre-Approval and realistic expectation of documentation requirements and underwriting criteria makes the whole process much easier.
3. Self-employed borrowers cannot qualify for a mortgage. Truth: It is just as easy for self- employed individuals to obtain a mortgage, as it is an employee of a business.
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?
With our innovative Digital Mortgage you may apply online using your PC, tablet or even your mobile phone! We also have an awesome GR Mobile App available to download for free on the App Store and on Google Play! Or you may text me at: 301-742-2378 and I will personally forward it directly to you. My Mobile App is a fast and easy method of obtaining up-to-date rates and sharing my contact information with friends of loved ones needing a lender recommendation. Tap or text and we’re connected!
An additional useful app for homebuyers is Homesnap. Homesnap enables house hunters to snap a photo of any home across the nation to get instant property details, including home values, when it last sold, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, taxes, lot boundaries, local school ratings, similar listings and nearby sales. Homesnap allows one to sift through various home choices available on the real estate market without wasting a lot of time physically visiting each property.
For my Realtor partners, I recommend ‘Gateless: The greatest agent coaching site on the planet!’ (www.Gateless.com). Gateless is a phenomenal online resource chock-full of tips, marketing templates, success strategies and insightful interviews from industry leaders designed specifically for Real Estate professionals!
What resources could you recommend that borrowers use to learn more about the mortgage process and how to ensure a successful home closing?
I invite borrowers to visit pertinent links and topics on my website: www.GuaranteedRate.com/loan-expert/GinaBest. There, you will have an opportunity to access highly informative resources, Buzz-worthy Market News and explore Loan Options. You can also sign up for my newsletter to receive tips and rate alerts as you prepare for and journey through our mortgage financing process.
To ensure a successful home closing, borrowers also benefit from being aware of the Do’s and Don’ts during the mortgage process. This includes the following:
• DO remain current on all existing credit accounts
• DO consult with me first before making any credit or address changes
• DO refrain from making any major purchases during the loan process
• DO NOT transfer money between accounts during the loan process
• DO NOT apply for new credit or max out your existing credit cards
• DO NOT consolidate any debt or pay off collections or charge-offs and
• DO NOT close credit card accounts.
As we near closing, please let us know if you plan on travelling out of town. This will prevent delays and allow us to make the necessary timeline adjustments if necessary.
What can borrowers do to insure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
Keeping the home buying process moving smoothly requires several components: preparation, communication, organization and timely submission all income and asset documentation, mortgage application and pertinent disclosures. The key to ensuring a smooth underwriting process is to submit an airtight, thorough and COMPLETE file to the underwriter - - upfront.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure the document package contains the following:
• Last 2 years of tax returns and W-2’s
• 2 consecutive pay stubs reflecting a minimum 1 month of salary
• the most recent 2 billing cycles of bank statements (including blank pages)
• Mortgage statement (for refinancing transactions)
• Homeowners Insurance information.
If you are aware of an oddity in your financial situation please share this with me during our initial consultation for we may need to obtain typed letters of explanation for credit inquiries, etc.
Lastly, the official document that will break down in detail the cash needed to bring to closing is called the Loan Estimate or LE. It will be included in your initial disclosures that we will be sending out to you. Please make sure you have the necessary funds set aside for closing in your bank account. And we’re on our way!
Summary of where you grew up: family, affiliations, college, high school, etc.
I’m a country girl at heart! I grew up in Iowa and moved to Maryland in my teens. During my High School years, I auditioned for and was accepted at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington D.C. I transferred to High Point High School in Maryland when my family moved. I attended the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park where I earned my Bachelors degree in Finance and Marketing.
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
I love seeing clients realize their dream of home ownership - - - and it gives me a special thrill knowing I’m helping them by serving an integral role in such an important purchase. I know what a major investment purchasing a home can be, and I want to ensure that my clients are delighted with their experience. It’s also very rewarding knowing I’ve helped clients save money on a refinance.
Having clients return to me for repeat business, or when they refer their friends and family gives me the most satisfaction because it is indicative of their trust - - and validates the fact that they enjoyed the results of their mortgage experience!
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
Outside of the office, I enjoy spending time with my beautiful youngest daughter and adorable grandchildren. I am the proud grand-“Mombo” of 7 beautiful “Butterflies” and “Bumble-bees”! I’m an avid reader and I thoroughly enjoy watching historical and biographical documentaries, comedies and science fiction. I’m also an active advocate in social justice awareness and humanitarian activities.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
A lover of music of all genres - - I am a classically trained vocalist and attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. Ironically, my beautifully unique and artistically gifted middle daughter, India also attended DESA 20+ years later! On the wacky side, I am an admitted Charlie Chaplin fan and a couple of my favorite movies are: ‘Shrek II’, ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ and of course, the ‘Star Trek’ series. How’s THAT for variety? On the health-nut side, I’m a Kombucha enthusiast and have mastered my preparation process incorporating several mouth-watering flavors!