Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Shmuel has over two decades of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. Shmuel provides a uniquely holistic approach to comprehensive real estate and financial matters that goes well beyond any single transaction. Shmuel is an award-winning financier recognized for maximizing the short-term and long-term objectives of his client. As a contributing writer to many local and regional newspapers and publications, his insights have been featured in the media for many topics, including mortgages, personal finance, appraisals, and real estate trends.
Someone jokingly asked me if I already got vaccinated because I am in an “essential” industry. We all had a good laugh, but from a financial perspective, one would be hardpressed not to recognize that the mortgage industry was, in fact, a crucial part of economic stability and support for most of 2020. With over $4 trillion in estimated mortgage volume produced last year, both refinance and purchase lending exceeded previous records and truly aided with real estate market stability. Historically low rates helped homeowners save approximately $300 a month compared to last year’s figures. These record numbers occurred despite increased volatility in the financial markets and challenges on the ground with access to homes.
While I wouldn’t categorize the mortgage industry as essential, I did coach my team to treat every loan application as a critical undertaking that could significantly impact our clients’ life. I remind myself daily that while we are blessed to have a stability of business, many people are still looking for employment through no fault of their own. Low mortgage rates are not always a given during challenging economic times, so I take seriously my role of helping anyone who reaches out to me, regardless of remuneration.
Over the past year, I have had countless instances where I could have acted in the interest of doing “another deal,” but instead turned away the business. These are loans that were highly lucrative and easy enough to handle without issue. So why would I turn them away? In one recent instance, which repeats itself weekly, the caller was working with another loan officer, and “things were taking way too long.” She willingly told me the rate and fees that she was quoted, and I knew that I could easily match and even beat the offering. I asked why things were taking longer than expected and was told that there was no issue other than the company being backlogged. Updates were sporadic and proactive communication was nonexistent. I encouraged the woman to stick with it but let them know that she was told that she could get the same deal elsewhere if there isn’t an update promptly. I also admitted that we, too, experience the same struggle of not having enough bandwidth to consistently communicate with our clients how we would like to.
In other instances, there are applications that I take on that have been turned down by other lenders and brokers because “they were too insignificant” or complicated. The smaller mortgages are not profitable enough for some loan agents, and the more challenging ones are too time-consuming. It would be easy just to say “no,” and move on to the next caller waiting on hold, but I’m uncomfortable sending them off without a viable solution. Why should these homeowners be deprived of saving money just because there is not a hefty commission to be made. From retirement income to self-employment analysis, some applications need a little extra “TLC” to get them completed. We don’t shy away from those in the least bit.
Another loan that I just turned away was a recently done mortgage by another local mortgage professional. After the pandemic began, this caller jumped on the opportunity – and eventually closed a loan with an interest rate that is currently well above the market. After I ran the credit, I realized this loan was only two months old and would be subject to “recapture” if paid off so soon. While these refinance loans do not have a pre-payment penalty, I explained that the previous broker or lender would be subject to a penalty if the loan were refinanced before six payments were made. I encouraged her to get in touch with her loan officer so that he could restructure something favorable for her. I know most in my position would not consider that, but for me, it’s always about doing the right thing.
I have recently been training a new loan processor, and she commented on how impressed she was in how I speak to my clients and that I genuinely don’t treat the situation as a mere transaction. I was thankful that my intentions were notable and reiterated how it is the cornerstone of my business. If anyone knows of others who would like a financially rewarding career with tremendous job satisfaction, please reach out. We are looking to hire dedicated employees who are looking to continually do the right thing.
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