Unlocking Homeownership

Unlocking Homeownership, Part 1—The Value of Relationships

Part 1: It’s All in the Family—The Value of Relationships as a Homebuyer 

My name is Steve Richman, and I’m That MI GuySM for Genworth Mortgage Insurance. Mortgage insurance isn’t exactly a mainstream topic, but it makes a mainstream impact by allowing borrowers to secure a mortgage without the traditionally required 20 percent down payment. Throughout this four-part series, titled Unlocking Homeownership, I will use real-life testimonials to show you how this works, and hope that you can apply some of these tips to your own situation.

The following testimonial is from Julia Bell, Branch Manager for Movement Mortgage, based in Oviedo, FL:

There’s not much about the mortgage world that I haven’t been exposed to. My mother started as a branch manager at Wells Fargo 17 years ago and recruited me as a loan officer once I entered the working world. I begrudgingly obliged, only to fall in love with what I do and have worked alongside her ever since. When it came time to buy my own home, having that immersion was helpful, but the value of immersion and relationships in my journey goes much deeper, and can provide a guide for prospective homebuyers. Let’s start with immersion.

Before my husband and I got married, we were both homeowners. But when we decided to merge our lives and buy a home together, things progressed more quickly than expected. The first offer we placed was accepted and were told we needed to close within 30 days.

This meant we didn’t have enough time to arrange a 20 percent down payment because we were going to finance this with proceeds generated from selling our prior houses, and there was no way we’d be able to sell either house, let alone both, in just 30 days.

At risk of losing our new home, we opted for private mortgage insurance (MI) and a 5 percent down payment. We saved money, thanks to MI, and were able to complete an appraisal on the new home at 32 months. But here’s where the relationship component becomes truly special:

During the process, we found out that our son’s childhood babysitter was raised in the very home we were trying to buy (her parents were selling the home). Our son is autistic, and he developed a very special relationship with his babysitter.

Despite there being multiple offers on the house, we ultimately got the home because our Realtor told us to write a letter to the seller, the babysitter’s parents, about our connection to their daughter.

We followed suit, and the Realtor confirmed that the letter was what put us over the top, even though our offer price was exactly the same as other bids. The fact that there was a connection between the seller and the buyer made all the difference, to where the babysitter’s parents showed up to our closing to meet the family that would be living in their daughter’s childhood home.

Steve’s Key Takeaways: Where do I begin?!

  1. Julia’s story debunks the myth that private mortgage insurance is exclusively for first-time homebuyers. Here she was—both her and her future husband were prior homeowners, they had great jobs, great credit, but unexpectedly found themselves in a liquidity crunch and used MI as a bridge until they were able to sell their other properties and properly fund their new purchase.
  2. For homeowners who want to go the extra mile, Julia’s relationships are a prime, organic example of how buyers can stand out from the pack.
  3. While Julia had more insight into the process than most given both her and her mother’s careers in mortgage banking, she is a testament to the value of prospective homeowners educating themselves about all their available options and thinking outside the box to optimize their homebuying process.

Julia has since made it her mission to put her customers in the very same position and make them smarter homebuyers, whether it’s their first rodeo or they’re repeat buyers.

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Read Part 2 of the Unlocking Homeownership Series



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