Riding The Housing Rollercoaster02 March 2016 Written by By Kathy Mertens
Published in March 2016 Articles
My Guild Mortgage business is providing premium service for homebuyers throughout East County.
My business is small, but we’re a member of the Guild Mortgage Company, which has been helping people realize their dream of home ownership for more than five decades. Guild is a premier national institution with more than 250 branches and satellites across the nation. Therefore, I am in the best possible position of offering clients the personal attention that only a small business like mine can provide while being able to utilize the resources of technology, knowledge, and experience of a large established company.
One advantage we offer our clients, which some of them greatly appreciate, is to fund all our loans and to service most of them. Our mortgages commonly remain with Guild, which is in nice contrast to some lending institutions that pass loans around like baseball cards — selling them and trading them from one lending institution to another. If a homeowner then has a question about his/her mortgage, it becomes difficult to figure out what really happened to it and impossible to reach a human being who knows any details about that particular loan.
We are currently operating out of three locations — two in Brentwood and one in Discovery Bay, and would like eventually to expand into other areas, perhaps into Concord or Sonoma.
My Rich Reservoir of Resources
Guild is a wonderful company, and I’m grateful to be associated with such a high-quality team of professionals. My fellow loan officers and managers are top in the field. In particular, I couldn’t do what I do without Jason Peterson, who is Operations Manager of the Antioch and Brentwood branch. Jason always makes himself available for us — helping us solve knotty problems and assisting us in following through with clients.
In part through Jason’s help, I’ve assembled a team of top-notch professionals. Annie Fuller, my Marketing Director, manages our all-important social media, cares for our marketing needs, coordinates with other agents, and keeps us involved in community events. Annie brings to the business a rich experience in writing loans that extends back to her beginnings in 2003 as a loan officer. In 2006, she moved into the out-of-state investment part of the Real Estate industry and since 2013 has focused on marketing. Annie, who is a fun person to have in the office, has been an even sunnier presence since last December, when she became a bride.
Amparo Gonzalez, my full-time Assistant, manages the important behindthe- scenes business of completing our loan transactions. Amparo has a talent for ensuring that loans will close in the shortest time possible and with the least amount of stress to our clients. Debbie Lapuz, the team’s Loan Processor, also works behind the scenes to handle communications between Amparo and the bank. Two full-time Loan Officers, Rita Caruso and Delmy Steward, help us find the most profitable match between clients’ wishes and available mortgage products. Fallon Bland, my daughter, finished a five-year hitch serving Uncle Sam in Army Intelligence, used the GI Bill to earn a Business Degree from Cal State Hayward, and is now joining my team as a Junior Loan Officer. Fallon and I dreamed of this for a while and are delighted that it is now coming to pass.
Delmy and Amparo are bilingual and perform essential communication services on behalf of our growing number of Hispanic homeowners. We are hoping to expand this part of the business and feel we are in a good place to do so. The Hispanic community is underserved when it comes to purchasing property. Furthermore, the language barrier sometimes makes potential homebuyers in this community vulnerable to unscrupulous practices.
My Guild Mortgage business has been the in-house lender for Intero Real Estate Services since 2011. Intero has been living up to its “Innovation Meets Influence” tagline since its birth in 2002 as a Silicon Valley-based startup. Intero provides premier training, technology, and marketing resources to propel its agents into the forefront of the industry and is a leader in finding innovative solutions for serving clients. Becoming Intero’s go-to mortgage company was a great opportunity for me because the relationship freed me from the necessity of continually pursuing clients. I’m still marketing my services aggressively, but the steady influx of clients from Intero is a good resource. For their part, the Intero Realtors are glad to turn their clients over to me and escape the task of recommending mortgage services for their clients.
I’ve been in real estate since 1990 when I became a Realtor in Sonoma. I moved to Discovery Bay five years later. Discovery Bay seemed to have a paradise-like quality because I’ve always loved sunshine and being near water. As a result, I fell in love with Discovery Bay’s aquatic lifestyle and with its“live where you play” philosophy.
Even though I enjoyed the property sale side of the housing industry, it was time to make a change in profession. I resented the fact that my real estate business took me away from home every weekend. Even though I was smiling broadly while giving potential clients tours of whatever Open House I was showing, I was chafing at missing the Discovery Bay weekend festivities that I wished so much to be a part of. Even more important, my three kids were getting older. They were active in school and sports, and there were too many athletic events in which Mom should have been in the stands cheering them on and too many performances at which Mom should have been a loudly applauding member of the audience, so I made the decision to move to the mortgage side of real estate.
I was always good at math and had a degree in accounting so, even while working as a Realtor, I often helped clients work through the numbers when they were facing a mortgage decision. The mortgage side of the business came easily to me, and I worked for five years as an agent for a mortgage company.
Then in 2006, I went into business for myself with my own mortgage company as a part of Platinum Home Mortgage and eventually grew my team to 15 agents. It felt great to be my own boss and to be doing things to directly increase my own wealth. It also felt good to assist the people on my team in becoming successful.
We were in boom times. “Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end,” as the words of the old song put it. However, 2008 came along, the amazing bubble popped, and like everyone else I was shocked and
dismayed by the depths of the crash. Most real estate professionals wisely changed professions while a few of us hearty souls scrounged around, trying to learn how to survive. We all know the proverb about what tough people do when the going gets tough and I hung in there with a “Save your Confederate money, boys, the South will rise again” kind of a hope in the market recovery. I lost everything and spent three years doing business out of my house. The fact is, times were desperate in our industry but our situation was far from hopeless.
What goes down must come up could be There is too much energy in the California economy to keep housing prices depressed for long.
The market began to rebound, business began to pick up, but I was never completely happy working in the confines of my home. When I get up in the morning, I want someplace to go and missed the comradery of fellow workers and the “water-cooler” discussions that help a person retain a sense of identity. To make things worse, my kids grew up and left home to pursue their own lives, leaving behind a home that had become a nest with an echoing sense of emptiness.
As you can see from the beginning of the article, I’ve left my period of isolation far behind. My life has fallen into a happy place indeed. My two charming granddaughters, Liyah and Mariah, are a constant joy. My four children make me proud! My daughter, Jessica, is a San Rafael police officer. Courtney lives in Austin, Texas, with a good job in the Securities Industry. My youngest child, 15-year-old R.J., is a De La Salle sophomore. He’s planning to be an Architect. He’s a good student, so should be able to do whatever he wishes. My daughters and I are best friends. R.J. is ten years younger than his youngest sister so I like to tell people that he was raised by four moms.
The East County Mortgage Industry is in a state of continual flux. Fortunately, the housing industry roller coaster ride reaches high points that are high indeed. We’ve made it beyond the recession following the big 2008 bubble burst, and business is better now than before. Even though the business is better because of the booming economy, regulations were added that make the loan-borrowing process more complicated than before. Another happier complexity is added by the necessity of choosing among the great variety of loan products, some of which provide wonderful advantages and benefits. I’m helping some people get connected with grant programs enabling them to get into houses with no down payment.
I would like to spend more time engaged in direct client relationships, since that’s my favorite part of what I do. My goal is to establish my Guild business to the point at which it will run itself with well-qualified people able to manage without continual input from me, so I can spend maximum time guiding my clients through the current difficult loan process.
I enjoy my work and appreciate the realtors and the other Intero people whom I work with. My greatest satisfaction, however, comes from working with my clients and helping them realize their dreams of home ownership.