GuaranteedRate - Mortgage Company

James McKenna

Vice President of Mortgage Lending
4 Century Drive, Suite 150, Parsippany, NJ 07054
Contact James
NMLS: 234353
Ready to start your Digital Mortgage?
Apply now

TestimonialsCustomer testimonials Read more

Jim was extremely helpful for us throughout the entire process. We initially went to him for only a quote and had decided to go ahead with a different lender, even though he was extremely helpful and walked us through every piece of the mortgage process (our mistake, especially since his rate was lower!). When things were not working out with our chosen lender, Jim took our call and came in to save the day. He expedited our application and made sure to stay on top of his team so that we would...

Felicia B.

Thank you Mario, Jim, Jackie, Ken and everyone else at guaranteed rate for your tireless efforts and constant communication. You have made the process of getting a mortgage painless and quick. I will definitely recommend your team to all of my friends and family looking for a mortgage.

Nick P.

Easy process. Jim was great to deal with, very responsive.

Stephen V.

Jim McKenna is outstanding - knowledgeable, professional, and a great communicator. He also understands how to get things accomplished by working with others. I would recommend him to anyone seeking a home loan.

Alisa W. -Chatham, NJ | SEP 2016

Everyone was very professional and responsive. The full service approach makes it easy on the home buyer.

Graham G.

About James

I have been in the mortgage industry for thirty years. I find that this business suits my personality. The process of educating people about the home buying process and the intricacies of mortgage financing is exciting. I also like to demystify the mortgage process. It really is rather simple when you get right down to basics. During my thirty years working with borrowers, Realtors and attorneys, I have accumulated a vast amount of experience which gives me a unique perspective on the home financing process. During my career in the mortgage industry, I have consistently been honored as a top producer with a reputation for outstanding customer service. Whether you are buying your first home, or trading up, I have the experience and expertise to help you chose the right financing option and create a smooth financing transaction.

James interview Q&A

How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I have been in the residential mortgage business since 1985. Financing a new home is one of the most important financial decisions most people will make in their lifetime. Being part of that decision making process, and helping people realize their dream of home ownership is extremely rewarding.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
I don't think that there is such a person or persons today that I can refer to as "typical". My clients range from the first time home buyer with minimal down payment, the young but growing family trading up to their next home, to the high net worth individual buying investment properties or a vacation home in a resort community. In today's real estate market, I don't think there is a "typical" customer any more. Each home buyer is unique and special.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
I ask prospective clients to think about their medium to long range plans. Even though 30 year fixed rate loans are very attractive, it may not be the smartest financing program for a first time, upwardly mobile borrower. An adjustable rate mortgage offers and even lower interest rate, and still has a place in today's market. I also ask clients to consider what they think they can afford vs. what they can qualify for. Contrary to popular belief, I believe the mortgage industry is extremely liberal regarding lending guidelines, and I find people can often qualify for much more than they can actually afford. I want my clients to be happy and secure in their financing decisions.
What are the pros and cons of a fixed rate mortgage versus an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
The difference between a fixed rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage is risk vs. reward. This is also the pros and cons of both. With the fixed rate loan, there is no risk on the part of the borrower. The interest rate will never change. But there is a price for that security, and that price is a higher interest rate than what might be available with an adjustable rate loan. An adjustable rate mortgage, on the other hand, shifts some of the interest rate risk to the borrower. Since the borrower is taking on some of the interest rate risk, he is rewarded with a lower interest rate for a period of time. Once that period of time is over, the borrower is exposed to a changing interest rate that could be higher. It all depends on the borrower's plans for the future and his tolerance for risk.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
I always encourage first time home buyers to consider the proposed monthly housing expense as compared to their current housing expense. I also try to help them understand the difference between qualifying for a loan and affording the month payments. I encourage the first time home buyer to seriously review their current monthly expenses, then insert the proposed housing expense. If they are comfortable with the result, everyone wins.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
The FHA 203K renovation loan is a wonderful loan program for entry level buyers to buy a home at a relatively low price that may need some renovations. With the FHA 203K renovation loan, the borrower can finance to purchase of the home, the cost of renovations, and even the first six months of mortgage payments while their home is being renovated so they don’t have to shoulder the expense of rent and mortgage payment simultaneously.
How has the mortgage industry changed since you started, and what would you expect in the future?
The mortgage industry has gone through significant changes since 1985. Contrary to popular belief, mortgage guidelines are much more liberal today than they were in the 1980s and most of the 1990s. During the late 1990s until the credit meltdown of 2008, mortgage underwriting became increasingly lenient, ultimately being blamed in part for the credit crisis that gripped the financial world resulting in a deep recession. As a result of this credit crisis, there have been adjustments to mortgage guidelines that have curtailed some of the less than prudent underwriting practices of most lenders. But, even with these adjustments the mortgage industry is still providing home buyers with the financing resources to realize their dream of home ownership.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
Most customers I work with find the most difficult part of the home loan process is the level of documentation surrounding the verification of assets. I help my clients with this aspect of the application process by explaining the level of detail that will be required during the process in advance. I find that if I properly educate the client on what to expect, and explain why the documentation is required, the level of anxiety a client feels is minimized.
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. I can’t buy a house unless I have 20% down payment 2. I need perfect credit in order to qualify for a loan 3. I must be employed at the same job for over two years before I can qualify for a home loan
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
What provides me the most satisfaction in my job as a loan officer is contributing the process of people realizing their dream of home ownership, building wealth and creating financial security for themselves and their families. Home ownership is one of the crucial components of the fabric of our society. Every time I am invited into a client's life by being asked to help them finance or refinance their home loan, I feel like I am contributing to their success.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
In my spare time I enjoy coaching youth sports, hiking the Appalachian trail with my wife, long bicycle rides and singing with my Church choir.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I love old movies... If they are black and white, I'm in. I love listening to all kinds of music. I'm as happy with a Bach concerto, Frank Sinatra singing standards, 1970s and 80s Southern Rock, Mo-Town rhythm and blues, maybe throw in some Eminem and Big Sean to round it all out. I like dogs (Cats, too). I've been known to embarrass my kids dancing at weddings and striking up conversations with complete strangers. I like to play Christmas songs on the harmonica (also embarrassing to my kids if I do it in the mall while Christmas shopping)

See how easy the Digital Mortgage works

Today’s rates

Loan Type Rate APR

See all rates.

*Rates may vary by state.

Check rates and get approved online right now in just minutes! Or give me a call and I’ll answer your questions and guide you through the process!

Intuitive Loan Finder

Our Intuitive Loan Finder lets you sort by lowest monthly payment, lowest interest rate or the right loan term.

Explore loan options

Start your Digital Mortgage

Apply now