With intown Atlanta’s real estate market booming, we asked Megan Speno of HomeServices Lending to remind us how to shop for a loan officer and why that relationship is important during the home buying process.
ML: What are key things a customer should look for in a loan officer?
MS: Everyone thinks rate is the most important factor. The customer should look for competitive pricing more important is securing a knowledgeable and experienced lender who performs a thorough financial needs analysis. A super low rate is fantastic if you make it to the closing table with the best product to suit your financial needs but you do not have to sacrifice service for low rates and fees.
ML: What is most important to you as a loan officer?
MS: I want to be able to anticipate and understand the buyers’ needs. Is this a first home, dream home or are they moving because of an estate, health or change in marital status? There are many reasons to move and we must always remember there’s an impact on customers’ lives. My job is to navigate the layers and nuances of the mortgage process in an efficient manner and get them into their home.
ML: How do you stay abreast of the many changes in your industry and our market?
MS: I read a lot – trade magazines and news sources. Regulations and lending guidelines change frequently, sometimes daily. Also, we have an incredible team of underwriters at HomeServices who have tremendous knowledge and are always available to assist with any unusual circumstances. The Atlanta market is also changing every day. I have been originating since pre-recession here in town and have enjoyed a front seat to all the changes. I spend time with realtors, customers and other experts asking questions. I also try to view properties occasionally to stay on top of real estate trends.
ML: What advice do you have for buyers?
MS: Plan ahead. Have a thorough discussion with your lender to define programs and products and how those need to be matched with financial needs and long term goals. The time between contract to closing is becoming shorter and so it’s very important to get pre-approved. Consult with the lender about the documents needed and due dates. It can take time to locate financial and legal documents and liquify funds required for down payment and closing costs. Prep work like this will remove a lot of stress and avoid delays.
ML: What marks has the last housing crisis left on the industry/process?
MS: The new guidelines and regulations although burdensome have helped strengthen the housing market overall. Buyer and lender interests are more in line these days. Homeowners and lenders must work together at every stage of the transaction. Lenders look to protect collateral and originate high quality loans but they also want to protect consumers.
For those who have not purchased in the last ten years the new process may be shocking. More documents are required and numerous deadlines have to be met to get to closing. There are mandatory wait times at certain points in the transaction. We are used to instant results in our society and without proper guidance the experience can prove to be frustrating. An experienced loan officer with a strong team will lead the customer through the process with ease.
HomeServices Lending, LLC | 1409 Peachtree ST NE | Atlanta, GA 30309
Office 404.815.9556 |