Every week, we ask an Boston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in Boston real estate.
This week, we talked with Paul Anastos, the president of Mortgage Master, Inc. As president, Paul is responsible for Mortgage Master’s overall strategic direction and its day-to-day operations, including financial, human resource and technology functions, as well as management of all sales and branch operations. Since Paul joined the company in 2003, loan officers and operations staff have grown from 150 people and two branch locations in 2002 to 725+ employees and more than 40 branches.
Boston Agent (BA): What would be your top recommendations for agents who are preparing their clients for the mortgage process?
Paul Anastos (PA): Before agents even begin searching for homes with their clients, I would advise them to get their clients pre-approved. That sets the standards for what they need for financing, and will determine how much negotiating space they have.
Also, in getting through some of the documentation steps during pre-approval – providing W2s, pay stubs and asset information, for instance – really can ease the process once you identify a home, because everything becomes so much more all-encompassing at that point. Your client is no longer worrying about just the financing, but also moving their children to a new home and school system, among a whole myriad of things. We want the client to concern themselves with those things while we focus on the financing side of the transaction. So, setting expectations about what we need up front, and what a person can get pre-approved for, can really ease the process for the client.
More and more agents are educated about the time that it takes to secure financing today, so they’re much more mindful. The most experienced agents never over-promise to their clients. If you go back in time, it was always a forgone conclusion that someone would be pre-approved for a mortgage. Nowadays, though, people are less cavalier in their attitudes, and that serves them well to be conservative in what they promise.
BA: What is the biggest misconception that you see among consumers on how the mortgage process works?
PA: The biggest misconception is that providing information to the lender will not lead to follow-up questions. For example, when providing a bank statement, a customer assumes that such information speaks for itself; oftentimes, it does, but if you see deposits moving between accounts, that can raise questions, as can changes to one’s credit via new credit cards or auto loans.
And of course, it’s important that agents work with experienced loan officers for their client’s home financing. Another misconception is that home financing is this daunting process, but in reality, it’s all about preparation and communication – if someone does a good job on that front, it won’t be so daunting.
BA: Finally, do you thinking lending standards will ease up at all in 2015?
PA: In the areas of conforming-sized loans up to $417,000, I see much of those standards staying the same. I certainly hope that the cost of mortgage insurance goes down, which would make those loans more affordable to first-time homebuyers.
Overall, though, I find lending standards to be pretty fair. The requirements that they have, and the documentation that they ask for, are reasonable, and again, it all goes back to preparation and making sure that the client understands those things; many people can qualify for financing under the current standards – it’s all about making sure you present the case properly, and that you walk through all the facts properly.
The biggest opportunities today, in terms of flexibility and standards, is in the jumbo loan sector. I see more and more jumbo providers offering greater opportunities to qualify, and looking much more at assets to qualify buyers; it seems the big banks are very interested in growing their jumbo volumes, and with that comes more opportunities for consumers.