The Short List: John Willis’ Tips for Navigating the Mortgage Process in 2015

by Boston Agent


John Willis is a senior loan officer with Mortgage Master.

Every week we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with John Willis, a senior loan officer at Walpole-based Mortgage Master, a leading independent mortgage lender.

5. Chose a loan officer with access to a vast mortgage product portfolio and working for a lender that has the expertise to close a loan quickly. It is important to work with an experienced loan officer who can get a mortgage loan closed on time with the least amount of issues. We call it providing borrowers “peace of mind.” Much of the hassle can be avoid if the majority of the information is gathered upfront and any potential obstacles/issues are addressed and resolved early in the mortgage process. By having dozens of lenders and programs to choose from, Mortgage Master can often fit the square peg in the square hole even when dealing with difficult loan scenarios. Everyone should have an experienced mortgage professional to keep deals together and make you, the real estate agent, look good.

4. Make sure your clients consider obtaining incremental pre-approval letters. Many loan officers overlook this suggestion, but it is one that several of my real estate partners and buyers often request. I will often pre-approve my buyers for more house than they want to buy as long as they responsibly qualify. I then give them a few pre-approval letters at lower increments to cover initial offers as well as letters for increases they may want to make on a higher price home. The higher approval amount will also include homes at a higher price range just in case the buyer comes across that “special home” at the higher end of their buying ability.

3. Always ask your clients about their short and long-term objectives. As a sales professional, I often talk too much. But in the mortgage profession, it is a really good idea to ask as many questions as possible to understand your borrower’s short-term and long-term goals. After getting a better idea of their objectives and personalities, I am in a much better position to recommend the right mortgage solution that is fitted to meet their current and long-term needs.

2. Make sure your mortgage professional enjoys spending time with first time homebuyers. I really enjoy this part of my job. I can start at the very beginning with my homebuyers explaining different programs, lending jargon/terms, ratios, mortgage insurance, attorney responsibilities, financing timelines, and dos and don’ts. I call it “First Time Home Buying 101,” and I cover all the basics in obtaining financing and closing on a new home. In addition, I spend a fair amount of time explaining and establishing a Closing Cost Budget. I review pre-paid items, optional closing costs, homeowner insurance, lender credits, and estimate what they will eventually need to bring to the closing table.

1. Work with loan officers who you like and those who you think your buyers will also like. Buying a home can be a stressful process. However, it is much more enjoyable if you are working with someone who understands your expectations. Loan officers need to realize they are part a team – your team – and their performance and demeanor are a direct reflection on you and your business.

John Willis is a senior loan officer with Mortgage Master. A veteran of the mortgage industry for more than 17 years, John has experience in mortgage banking and account management with regional and national mortgage lenders. In addition, he is a nine-year affiliate member and former chairman with the Eastern Massachusetts Association of Realtors, and the 2012 Scotsman Guide Magazine ranked him No. 61 out of all mortgage originators in the country for Top Dollar Volume for 2012.

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