Fallout from the subprime crisis has had a profound impact on the number and nature of the financial institutions doing business in major markets around the country. Although the Hawaii real estate marketplace and the financial institutions that serve it have remained relatively stable, many mortgage lenders have either disappeared, been absorbed by other companies, or morphed into new brands.
When a new lender comes to town, or takes over an existing operation, expectations are raised as to what the company may be bringing to the local marketplace – new loan products…additional services…a different corporate culture…a unique style of doing business? Perhaps all of the above.
Just one year ago, Guild Mortgage Company opened its first Hawaii office in Kailua. Regional Manager Bill Rizzo said, “Although Guild is new to Hawaii, the company marks 50 years in the business in 2010. It’s the leading privately held mortgage company in the western U. S. The home base is in San Diego.”
Rizzo noted that his team of 34 loan officers and support staff, like those in many of the “new” companies in town, have been associated with lending institutions, both big and small, that ceased local operations during the sub-prime crisis due to conditions beyond their control affecting the parent companies. He believes that change is an opportunity for growth and improvement.
“Contrary to what some may believe, not all mortgage lenders are the same. Some loan products will be similar, but every company puts its own stamp and spin on what they offer the consumer and the industry. First of all, Guild is a direct mortgage lender with local in-house processing, underwriting, and funding, which means we have the ability to provide our borrowers and Realtors with exceptional service. Our Operations staff shares the same office with my Loan Officers all of whom are mutually supportive and work together as a team.”
“I personally have 20 years in the lending industry. Most of my loan officers have between five and 25 years experience. Experience is paramount in being able to provide valuable service to home buyers and real estate agents…so is the support of a successful and respected national financial institution. Because of our credentials, we were in a position to choose and to be chosen by a major national lender when we decided to establish a new company in Hawaii.
“A number of lenders approached us to bring our staff to their organization, but after meeting with the Guild people we realized we had a perfect match. They came out from their home base in San Diego and concluded the deal in about a week after the initial contact. In addition to their ability to make decisions and move quickly on them, we appreciate the fact that Guild allows us to function independently and do the things we believe we need to do as members of the local community. The reception we’ve received both from home buyers and real estate agents has been very encouraging…to the extent that we plan to open new offices in Honolulu and Maui in the coming year.”
Rizzo noted that Guild is currently closing loans in 30 days, despite the large volume of business generated by the “perfect storm” of low interest rates, good selection of properties, bargains due to short sales and foreclosures, and the extended and expanded Federal tax credits. He emphasized that the company welcomes first time as well as move up buyers, offering everything from low and no down payment loan programs to jumbo loans.
“We encourage first time home buyers who are unsure about their eligibility to purchase a home to make an appointment, come in, and sit down with a loan officer who will work with them to determine if they are ready to jump into the market and, if so, how much house they can afford. The loan officer will provide them with a check list of needed items at the time they make the appointment to expedite the process. If it turns out that the applicant has credit problems or other issues, we can provide counseling for them from six months to a year to get them on the track to home ownership.
“Our mission is to keep our clients financially strong…to put them in a better financial position than they were in when they first walked into our office. ‘Closing Loans and Opening Doors Since 1960′ is the Guild slogan.”
In addition to conventional loans at the prevailing record low rates, Guild offers VA loans, FHA loans, and U. S. Department of Agriculture rural loan programs with 100 percent financing for both new purchases and rehab projects. Guild is one of the few lenders making loans for Department of Hawaiian Home Lands under the USDA Rural Loan Program. Reverse mortgages and reverse mortgage counseling for seniors and their families are available. With the “Jumbo Elite” program, loan officers in the Guild Kailua office are able to originate mortgage loans up to $2.5 million.
Guild offers seminars for first time home buyers and buyers interested in purchasing REO (bank owned) foreclosed properties every month in various Oahu communities.