Your Mortgage File

A Drive Called Spartan

A Drive Called Spartan

I share information on this blog to create awareness around the mortgage process.  It’s mostly technical.

I feel compelled to write about another aspect of home ownership — neighbors.

The storm that hit the Black Hills of South Dakota on October 4th, 2013  caught everyone off guard, even mother nature.  Heavy fall snow fell early that night.  I slipped off to bed expecting to wake up with 10 to 14 inches.

Instead, I woke at 4 a.m. to deafening silence. Our fan was off.  No lights, no heat.  The electricity was out.

I gazed through the window at a blizzard of white snow.  Even this early, with sunlight hours away, one could see as though there were a full moon.  I felt it would be worse than predicted.

Hours later we stepped outside.

It sounded like open hunting as limbs cracked and popped under the load.   The street became a meeting area as neighbors gathered to survey the situation.

Every few minutes we’d say, “There goes another one.”

The trees, still full of leaves, had boughs bent low.  They hung ominously over roofs, cars, and power lines. It was only a matter of time before electricity ceased for over 25,000 people.

The snow grew deeper into the evening and the temperature dropped — heat became a worry. We sat in the car, my wife and two girls, warming up and charging the cell phones. We called parents and discussed options but the last thing we wanted to do was venture into the blizzard.  We concluded it was time to light some candles, gather blankets and huddle together for the evening.

That’s when our neighbor’s son, who on a visit, marched across the snow and banged on our door.

“Let’s go,” he said. “You’re staying with us tonight.  We have a natural gas fireplace and stove. We have heat.”

I am a proud, independent spirit. But this was no the time for bravery, especially with two small girls.

“Ok,” I said.

“Seriously. You need to come.”

So, we hauled our stuff through the two feet of snow to a warm house and even warmer people.  Their hospitality was storybook. They cooked us a warm meal and engaged us in conversation until we felt as though they were family.

We slept soundly and unconcerned. Let it snow.

And snow it did. Yet another foot and a half.

The following morning it stopped and the work began.  The neighborhood, half still without power, once again met in the street.

There were shovels and snowblowers, adults and children, and a whole lot of child laughter. We had over forty inches of wet, heavy snow to move.

After five hours we had cleared ten driveways. Our motivation: Broncos vs. Cowboys.

The guy on the corner owned a pizza shop that never lost power. With the roads partially clear, he slipped down and baked some pizza.

With the work done we congregated, 20 people strong, into one house where the real warmth radiated from the souls of the people who banded together in a time of need.  How proud I was at that moment to be part of a neighborhood that cared for each other, that offered what service they had for the benefit of those in need.   That was, and is, a drive called Spartan.

Standard
How It Works, Mortgage Philosophy, Your Mortgage File

A Good Loan Officer

Recently, I was asked to evaluate the qualities of a successful loan officer. The timing could not be better. I had just read an article about pain borrowers experienced during the mortgage process.

Loan officers catch flack when things go wrong. And why shouldn’t they? He is the face of the transaction and deserves to bear the burden when things go wrong. When ‘closing-in-thirty’ turns into sixty, when the appraisal comes in low or when interest rate jumps, the loan officer takes the verbal beating.

Boiled down, the best thing a loan officer can do is set the right expectations. This is a paradox because he might be afraid to tell the whole truth else you’ll stomp over to the competition.

I know!

I’ve been that loan officer and I have the bruises to prove it.

It doesn’t end that way if it starts out right. You can take a part in that if you know what to look for.

Ready?

–knuckle crack–

Let’s begin with some words

  • Pushy
  • Vague
  • Promises
  • Chatterbox

Now – let’s tear it down:

PUSHY! “This rate is the best you’ll ever see”. “We need to secure money for the appraisal, let’s get started now”. “You need to sign this so we can get things started”. You feel more rushed than the last time you opted to self checkout in Walmart.

Stop! A loan officer is an adviser, not a used car salesperson (sorry, no euphemisms here). You need someone who will take it slow, work out the details. This is a HUGE transaction and it deserves patience and respect. It’s a relationship, not a one night stand (yeah, went there)

VAGUE! You know things were unclear in the beginning, but now you have a pen in your hand and things are still gray. The dotted line stares up at you and a zillion questions bounce around your head.

Stop! A loan officer is teacher. She will take your hand and guide you gently through a maze of foreign terms, complicated disclosures and options. You know she cares because she’s patient, repeats without hesitation, and spends time explaining. She WANTS you to understand. This is a BIG deal!

PROMISES! “This loan is no problem”.  “We won’t need anything else from you”. “We’ll get you closed in twenty days”.

Stop! A good loan officer is a coach. Without scaring you, she will outline a plan of events and what you can expect to encounter. She will also know that issues might come up. Heck, she might even ask for patience because this process is complex, time consuming and arduous   But,she’s your advocate and will work with you. Yes, you might need to provide additional documents, have patience, and need to vent. She’ll communicate and explain and together you’ll get through it.

CHATTERBOX! Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. The loan officer that won’t stop talking. He is more interested in sharing his life and you struggle to laugh at those lame jokes. Maybe if you just sign the application he’ll shut up.

Stop! A loan officer is as good as your counselor. She listens to your needs, works with your situation and helps find solutions. She wants to know about you! How else can she fit you into the right product. You should be the one talking!

Let’s end with some words:

  • Adviser
  • Teacher
  • Coach
  • Counselor

Next time you’re sitting in front of a loan officer, measure him!

bottom

Standard