Who is your typical customer and what questions do they typically have?
I have the pleasure of working with many first time home buyers and they have a lot of questions. What's interesting is that even though I have been doing originations for many years, I learn just as much from these fist time home buyers as they do from me. I make it a point to educate them because the more they know, the less fearful and overwhelmed they feel. I try to make them see the big picture first and then explain the steps we will take together to get from application to close. The what, where, why and how much that comes with a contract, application, commitment, appraisal, title and closing. It is great to see the trust built as you educate them and they begin to understand and accept the process.
What specific steps do you use to help your customers find the best home loan for them?
Rate, rate, rate....everyone is so rate conscience and that is all the fault of the mortgage lenders and their commercials about having the lowest rate. I try to explain to every client that rate is a factor but not "THE" factor in determining a loan program or lender. I discuss what they are comfortable with paying every month. How much do they have to put down, credit score, earnings now and in the future? If they are a couple, are they planning on having a family soon? Then we look at various programs and review the monthly payment with taxes and insurance and/or MI or PMI. Once we agree on what type of program works, then we can talk rate. Rate is something we can always agree upon because the bulk of the monthly payment has been determined by the loan size and down payment. The rate only changes the payment slightly in comparison to the other factors. I explain that as a banker it is in my best interest to obtain the best rate I can for their loan as there is no benefit to me to do otherwise.
How long have you been in the mortgage business? What awards have you won?
I began my career as a new graduate in the mortgage business over 24 years ago. I worked in what is considered the "Wall Street" area for about 20 years and always in the mortgage arena. I worked with servicing, operations, clearance, structuring securitizations to Asset Management for a mortgage backed hedge fund. Then after a brief hiatus, I became an originator and have been steadily growing my footprint as a professional and reliable originator in the 5 boroughs for the past 7 years.
What advice would you give new or first time home buyers?
For the first time home buyers my advice is try to work with some one that is experienced and works as an established lender. There are no short cuts in getting a mortgage. It is about credit, ability to pay and ratios based on your dents and income. If someone tries to tell you they can do something no one else can, they are lying. The key to a good loan is good preparation. Addressing all and every item upfront no matter how tough it may be. Trying to sweep items under the rug or hoping it won't be discovered is a plan to fail. It will get discovered and that may be after you signed your contract, put down your deposit and pay for your appraisal. It is definitely best to meet with a qualified mortgage banker before you start house shopping. Get pre-approved and be fully transparent with the banker. The more he/she knows the more likely the loan is going to get approved. Surprises are not good for commitments.
What part of the home loan process do customers find most difficult and how do you help them through it?
I feel that customers get most frustrated toward the end of the process when the Loan Closer is putting the final touches on a loan and preparing it for final review. In most instances additional requests are made for new documentation or a new credit line item appears and the clients fear doomsday. I explain to them that this is PAR for the course and they are not to worry. My team and I have already anticipated many of the new requests and we will ensure that all goes smoothly. They have been following our guidance from the initial application until now so there is nothing to fear. Providing the documentation is always easier than requesting an exception. That creates doubt in the underwriters mind and that is never good.
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 active member in a newly created Knights of Columbus Council in Mill Basin. I am one of the original 8-10 members that started the councils which now has close to 300 members and continues to grow year over year. We do a great many charitable events and works through the council for the community, local school and the church. I am also working to become a board member of the Italian American Federation. I am very proud of my heritage and I want to preserve the Italian language, beliefs, culture and of course the food. I have my eye on a number of other organizations like the Lions Club.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
My children tell me my taste in music in wacky. I am a big opera listener. Not so much the full operas but the arias. I always play it in the office after hours when everyone has gone home. It keeps me focused and relaxes me when I work.