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Friday, June 4, 2010

Why I Do What I Do

For those of you reading this who don't know what I do, I am a mortgage broker. I have been in the industry since 1988 and have a strong passion and commitment to my work. Every Friday I write and send to my past and current clients, real estate professionals and assorted others my "Weekly Rate and Market Update." It includes a Question of the Week that is generally sent to me to answer.
This week I used a question I am asked often from various areas, including within: Why do you stay in the industry? To answer the question I tell the story of a recent client. It perfectly summarizes why I do what I do.

Question of the week: Why do you stay in the industry?

Answer: This is a question I get from within the industry from time to time, and from within myself from time to time as well, checking in to see if I am still doing what I do for the right reasons. With all that has occurred in the last several years, and all the regulatory changes that are on-going, it certainly has been easy to question our participation and motivation. That said, I am a firm believer that everyone should ask this question of themselves regularly.

This week confirmed for me why I am in the mortgage business. While at times I enjoy what I do more than others, in the end helping a family achieve their dream of homeownership is the core of what I do. Along the way helping other families with financial management with refinancing is a big plus, but still secondary to the homeownership piece.

Every family’s home is special and I appreciate working with all my clients get the keys to their own front door. Some families however take a bit of a stronger hold on my heart as we pursue together their new home. These are the loans that strongly remind me why I am in this industry and will be in it for many, many years to come.

In April I was contacted by Eileen. She and her husband, Nick, wanted to purchase a condominium. They have a daughter with disabilities and wanted the permanence of their own home for themselves and for her as they raise her. There were challenges for us, we would be using a PERS loan, Eileen is a member of the Public Employees Retirement System which allows accessing retirement funds as a secured loan to use as down payment for purchasing a home. Because of the type of loan our lender partners were limited. As well we had less than 20% down so we would need private mortgage insurance, PMI, on a condo. Further complicating the issue was Nick teaches at night at a couple of different colleges so he can be with their daughter during the day.

One thing that came across very early was the commitment Eileen and Nick had to becoming homeowners. On meeting them and going through their qualification material I too became committed to their goal. Along with their agent, Jennifer, a team Eileen and Nick came together. Quickly they found the unit they wanted, unfortunately it was beyond their price range. But they were committed and this was the home they wanted.

Writing an offer below list price and at the edge of their price range, Eileen and Nick wrote a letter to the seller explaining why they wanted to purchase this property. Being honest about their situation and their desire for a home for their daughter had an impact and the sellers agreed to their offer.

Loan processes these past few years have become increasingly challenging with lenders tightening their standards and double crossing every “t” re-dotting every “i” and scrutinizing every comma. The primary reason is to ensure any loan they fund will be purchased by FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Knowing this and also the lender we would need to work with because Eileen and Nick were applying for a PERS loan, I warned everyone in the transaction, “By the time this transaction is completed we will probably go through the wringer. The lender will ask for additional paperwork, forms, etc that we do not even know about yet. There is a very good chance that at the end you will not want to do business with me again, and that is fine. I understand that and it is part of the business. But despite all this I will focus on one goal and that is the goal of Eileen and Nick to become homeowners. No matter what happens that is my goal.”

Thankfully, very thankfully, everyone in the transaction understood and were committed to the same goal. The professionals in the transaction acted as professionals (thank you Jennifer, Carol and Carmen among others) and when a snag popped up did not lose their heads calling and screaming at everyone.

It could have been one of those deals to get the label “Nightmare.” But instead it became one labeled “Career Validation.” No matter what was needed, instead of asking “why do they need that…” and trying to argue the request from the underwriter, the document or form was provided by whoever needed to provide it. No matter what the delay, instead of yelling and screaming about docs not being sent from PERS, or underwriting not signing off on a condition yet, the response was, “okay, let us know when you hear something.”

Everyone was on Team Eileen and Nick. Everyone wanted them to have this home for themselves and their daughter. Everyone worked together and kept working together to the finish.

Yesterday after more running around and collecting documentation asked for by the underwriter an hour before the funding deadline we finally provided everything we thought could be provided. As the 12:30 deadline approached I sat at my laptop staring at the clock in the corner.

At 12:31 I received an email and picked up the phone. “Eileen, we funded. You are going to be a homeowner.” Gratitude. Tears. On both ends of the phone.

Thank you Eileen and Nick for allowing me the opportunity to help you with your goal of homeownership. Thank you for showing me why I am in the mortgage business and what it is I get to do every day.

Our industry gets kicked around a lot. There are plenty of people who do damage to the industry with their rotten behavior and looking to make what they can on who they can. But for most of us in the mortgage business we are in it because of Eileen and Nick. And Curtis and Lisa. And Donna. Or Lee. Or Steve and John. We are in the business to enable and protect homeownership and allow families to fulfill their goals and objectives.

Thank you for allowing me this indulgence this week to tell why this business is so important and why most of us still in it remain. And a special thanks to all those who support my business and have used me for their mortgage needs throughout the twenty plus years I’ve been taking loan apps and making the phone call, “we funded.”
Have a question for me? Ask me!


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