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Leonard Briones

VP of Mortgage Lending
1400 Shattuck Ave, Suite 1, Berkeley, CA 94709
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NMLS: 288445
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About Leonard

Leonard Briones has been a mortgage professional for over 14 years. He has consistently been recognized for his high level of production and his attention to detail in closing his clients’ loans on time, with the least amount of stress and efforts on their part. He has closed almost half a billion in funded loans over his career. He is known to always put his clients needs first and to guide and consult them on their options in relation to their specific needs and goals. He is active in his local real estate board and recently won the Delta Association of Realtors Affiliate of the year award, for his philanthropic efforts within and for the association. He is a California native and grew up in Union City and now resides with his family in Brentwood. He attended Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward and later UCLA as a history major. He has been married for over 10 years and has a daughter and son that are “his world”. His mission statement is to “help keep the American Dream of Homeownership alive, one family at a time”. Leonard and his team strive to simplify the mortgage process for their clients, and to ensure they get an outstanding program that they fully understand and are comfortable with. They aim for all this, while trying to close each file in record time.

Leonard interview Q&A

How long have you been in the mortgage business and what inspired you to get into it?
I’ve been a mortgage loan officer for over 14 years. I was always interested in Real Estate and the benefits of owning. I wanted to help people achieve wealth and security through homeownership.
Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
I have a wide variety of customers from first-time homebuyers to seasoned real estate investors. The questions primarily focus on what type of programs are available to meet their individual goals and current situation.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
I help remind my clients that purchasing a home is a long-term investment/purchase. One that must be budgeted for, as it can and will affect other aspects of their lives, such as saving money for college, wealth building, retirement planning, and elderly care. With a solid mortgage plan in place, they will come closer to achieving their family’s financial goals and plans.
How long have you been in the mortgage business? What awards have you won?
I have been a mortgage loan officer for over 14 years. I’ve been a top producer at every company that I was with. I was in the President’s club for the last 5 years, as well as a 2016 top 250 NAHREP mortgage originator. I recently won the Delta Association of Realtors Affiliate of the Year award for 2017. This was for my philanthropic work on behalf of the local real estate board.
What are the pros and cons of a fixed rate mortgage versus an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM)?
I would say the biggest pro of a fixed rate mortgage vs. an ARM, is the security of having a payment fixed for the life of the loan. Advantages of an ARM would be best realized if the property being purchased, will be held for a relatively short time period of 10 years or less. Since the property is slated to be sold within 10 years or less than the advantage of an ARM program would be seen with the general lower interest rate and payment, that is a feature of these loans.
Tell us about a specific challenging borrowing situation and how you got the mortgage closed and funded.
I would say the most challenging situation I face regarding closing a mortgage for a client, would be when they have a severe lack of funds to put towards the purchase of a home. However, once they are pre-approved with special First-time homebuyer programs that we have access to, then they are also able to share in the American dream of home-ownership, despite the low down payment funds available.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
My first words of advice would be for them to create a budget for the new house payment to be taken on, with taking in consideration other costs of homeownership that are not initially thought of. Such expenses as, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, garbage, sewer, water, cable, internet, and other home maintenance costs. Once you have this number set, then let’s talk so that we can see what exact programs they are eligible for and what price point it will take to get to their payment goals.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
I would say one of the most powerful mortgage products available today are CalHFA first time homebuyer mortgages. These programs have options for 100% financing for the following loans- FHA, Conventional, and VA loans. They help provide assistance for down payment and closing cost funds needed to purchase a home.
How has the mortgage industry changed since you started, and what would you expect in the future?
I would say that biggest change in Mortgage lending today from the day I started back in 2003, would be in the way we communicate with our clients. Today, most loans are started electronically by clients, and a lot of times you won’t talk to them until you have communicated via text, social media and email a few times. I have partnered with a company that realizes the need for technology in today’s mortgage market and the need to simplify the process of mortgage approval.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
I would say the most difficult time a customer has during the pre-approval process, is the gathering of financial documents needed to obtain a mortgage pre-approval. However, with the document tools we have available at Guaranteed Rate, we simplify the document gathering process for our clients.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
- You need 20% down payment- we have a variety of down payment assistance programs that can get you in for very little to no cash out of pocket. - It is very hard to get pre-approved as guidelines are very strict- If you have prepared yourself for buying a home, with my help, I will present you a clear path to homeownership and what the do’s and don’ts are throughout the process. - It takes a long time to get an approval- from the time a client applies and submits their income documents, we can have have their pre-approval done in no time.
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?
I would say Guaranteed Rate’s loan finder and online application are great resources to get started with and obtain approval with minimal effort.
What resources could you recommend that borrowers use to learn more about the mortgage process and how to ensure a successful home closing?
I would say reading the articles and videos Guaranteed Rate provides consumers would be greatly beneficial for obtaining the overall details for refinancing and/or buying a home today.
What can borrowers do to insure a smooth mortgage underwriting process?
I would say to get the mortgage professional and their team all the items being asked for in a timely fashion. Once all required documents from the borrower are obtained by the team, a smooth process is the most likely outcome.
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?
I am the current and next year’s President for the Delta Realtors’ Community Service Foundation. We arrange non-profit events with the board membership in order to distribute high school scholarships each East Contra Costa High School, along with providing funds to local foster care homes, food banks and homeless shelters.
Summary of where you grew up: family, affiliations, college, high school, etc.
I am a California native who grew up in Union City. I attended Moreau Catholic High School in Hayward, then went away to college and majored in History at the University of California at Los Angeles. I then moved to Brentwood in 2001 and have been here ever since. I have been married to the love of my life for over 10 years and have two beautiful children. My eight year old little princess and my 19 month old baby boy.
What provides you with the most satisfaction in your job as a Loan Officer?
The most satisfying aspect of my career, I would say, is being able to be a part of what can be one of the most special times in ones’ life. The day they realize and achieve homeownership. To be able to see the determination, hard work, and emotions that help my clients achieve this feat, is truly humbling and I feel very lucky to be a part of that moment.
What do you enjoy doing most in your spare time when you are not helping people with their home loans?
I 100% enjoy my family and the time I can spend with them, when I am not helping people obtain their Real Estate dreams. To not just be present, but to be fully engaged and aware of their needs and feelings.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
I am a big time Golden State Warriors Fan and NBA in general. My family and I are season ticket holders and we go the games often.

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