Tony Salerno

Vice President of Mortgage Lending
716 W State St, Ste E, Geneva, IL 60134
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NMLS: 398662
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Tony 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 mortgage business for over 20 years. My career began in 1996 as a Loan Originator with GMAC Mortgage. I was a graduate of Elmhurst College and was working in the corporate world. It was suggested that I would be the perfect fit for the mortgage business based on my personality and interest in working with individuals. I found it very rewarding and haven’t looked back. I was and am passionate about helping people with one of the most important financial decisions of their lives. Making the dream of home-ownership a reality is what continues to drive me today.
Tell us about a mortgage product that consumers may not be aware of?
Guaranteed Rate offers its own Down Payment Assist Program, the 3-2-5: Qualified borrowers who contribute a 3% down payment from their own funds have a minimum credit score of 680, a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 45%, and purchase using a conventional loan up to $424,100.00 are eligible for a 2% grant from Guaranteed Rate. The 2% grant can be used as additional down payment, to buy the interest rate down, or toward closing costs. You do not need to be a first-time home buyer to qualify and income limits may apply.
What are the top 3 misconceptions people have about the home loan process?
Buyers must have a 20 percent down payment to purchase a home. Many potential buyers believe that you must put a minimum of 20 percent, 15 percent or even 10% down when purchasing. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allows for as little as 3.5 percent down, even if you have credit blemishes. FHA loans are for everybody not just first-time home buyers. Alternative loan options are available through the US Department of Veteran Affairs(VA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These loans require no money down. You can borrow 100% of the homes appraised value. If you are underwater (owe more than your home is worth.), you cannot refinance. It is estimated that millions of homeowners who are underwater and current on their existing mortgage can refinance using one of two special mortgages. The first, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), is available to homeowners who have a loan backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. The second program, FHA Streamline Refinance is available to those homeowners that have existing FHA loans. Both programs help borrowers refinance into lower interest rates and may help dramatically lower payments with little cost to the borrower even though they have lost significant equity in recent years. If you go through a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy you must wait 7 to 10 years before getting another home loan. In most cases, to buy a home after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy you’ll only need to wait 2 (FHA) to 4 years (Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, conventional). The wait time for a short sale is 3 years (FHA) and 4 years (Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, conventional). A foreclosure requires the longest wait time, typically you’ll need to wait 3 to 7 years before getting another home loan. If the foreclosure was discharged in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you can follow Chapter 7 guidelines and it’s 2 to 4 years. Even if you can afford to get a mortgage, you’ll need to have re-established credit and have good credit scores.
Summary of where you grew up: family, affiliations, college, high school, etc.
I was born and raised in Elmhurst, Illinois. My father was a painting contractor and mother an administrative assistant, with Jewel/Osco. I was the middle of 3 children. My brother was older and sister younger. I was raised Catholic and attended Visitation Church. I went to public elementary school in Elmhurst’s District 205. I then attended and graduated from Immaculate Conception High School, also in Elmhurst. I graduated from Elmhurst College in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing. I now live with my wife, Brenda and our five children in Oswego, IL., where we are parishioners at St. Anne’s Church. Our children’s ages are 10, 12, 18, 19 and 26. We have 2 dogs, Frankie and Sophie and 2 Guinee pigs, Cupcake and Butterscotch.
Tell us something that makes you unique or something wacky, yet interesting about you?
My father Joe and I launched a hot dog cart business back in 1988, Salerno’s Red Hots. It all started with a motorized golf cart that had a stainless-steel cart, apparatus mounted on the back. We had no previous food service experience and would learn the mobile concession business by trial and error. We first served hot dogs, chips, candy and soda pop during men’s softball games in Elmhurst’s Behrens Park. Men’s softball proved to be a tough market and we moved our operation to Villa Park, IL.; providing mobile service to their youth baseball program initially. In the following years, we would not only serve youth sporting events such as baseball, football and soccer; we expanded into corporate events. From retail store Grand Opening hot dog give-a-ways, corporate Employee appreciation lunches to private birthday parties. We did it all. Joe, affectionately known as “the Hot Dog Man” continued our Villa Park/Lombard operations until retiring in 2007. In the mid 1990’s my wife Brenda and I re-created our original business model and launched Salerno’s Red Hots 2 in Oswego, IL.; which ran successfully for 10 plus years. Today, Salerno’s Red Hots 2 continues to operate out of Oswego, IL. on a limited basis. You might even see a hot dog cart out and about at a real estate function, promoting Guaranteed Rate.

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