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.
Apparently, I was one of the last people to speak with Vera Greenwald a”h when I spoke with her this past Sunday morning. She was her charming usual self, and there was no way in the world to imagine or fathom the unthinkable that would soon happen. I’m not here to give a eulogy. I would be out of place, and it would be out of line. But I would be remiss if I didn’t share our discussion, because I think it’s something that everyone in business and life can appreciate.
I’ve been in the real estate and mortgage business for almost 20 years. In this business you meet personalities across the spectrum. Dealmakers come in different shapes, sizes and personalities, but Vera was different. I was introduced to Vera over 15 years ago, and had the pleasure and privilege of working with her for many years—in good times and bad. She was always so sweet and personable, and made everyone feel like they were the most important person in the room. Vera was the consummate professional.
We spoke for over half an hour, some pleasantries, but mostly business. I can remember the dialogue almost verbatim because I played it over in my mind a few times. Mind you, it’s not one of those conversations that I went back to think about after I heard that she passed—I thought about it immediately after we got off the phone. Vera and I discussed two situations she was working on. She didn’t tell me the clients’ names of course, and I understood that they both already had a relationship with a mortgage guy. She was really just calling to discuss these deals aloud, and to possibly get a different perspective before she got back to everyone.
In one case there was a young couple looking to buy a house where the contract period would be a lot longer than usual. Vera had pointed out to them some of the challenges of a long contract period, and how it would have an impact on the mortgage they were trying to get. She told them her concerns, to which they said their mortgage person told them, “Don’t worry, we’ll figure something out.” I actually agreed with Vera, and mentioned some potential issues of my own that she said she would bring up with them as well. When I asked why she brought this up with me, she said, “I just want to make sure some new policy didn’t come out that I wasn’t aware of…” She knew she was right. She knew there might be an issue. She just wanted to make sure. The rarity of something that Vera didn’t know about real estate is often the full gamut of experience that many agents amass in their careers.
The second situation was a big purchase she was working on where the buyers wanted to put down a smaller down payment than what is customary. She went through a few thoughts. She wanted to make sure the buyers were protected. She wanted to make sure the sellers were protected. She wanted to make sure that she fully considered all the contingencies and all the potential risks that each might face. It was a big deal to her, to say the least, but not because of the purchase price, but because she wanted to be mindful of all parties’ perspectives and angles.
Sometimes when you hear that someone died you immediately start over-analyzing everything they said in a recent conversation favorably out of guilt or sympathy. As I said, this wasn’t one of those situations. When I got off the phone with Vera I immediately put into context our conversation. Her interests weren’t about finessing the deal. Her desire was not to strong-arm one side against the other. Her inquiry was not to equip herself with info that can be used as leverage. I thought about it some more. Two different deals; a large purchase, a smaller first-time buyer purchase—yet she cared about them equally. She valued both clients equally. She valued their money equally. She treasured their business equally.
Yes, she was doing the research for two potential deals, but the objective wasn’t about “getting it done.” It was about getting the right deal done for the right people, the right way. Her objective was actually quite simple: what is fair, reasonable and prudent for each of her clients. She genuinely had her clients’ interest at heart. She cared about the buyers. She cared about the sellers. She just cared. She was genuine. She was sincere. She was practical. She was Vera. She will be sorely missed. May the whole family and community be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
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