Posted by: msundermier | September 14, 2020

Mortgage Rates Are On Sale…But Not For Long!

Last month I covered an announcement by the Federal Housing Finance Authority that was going to make refinance loans significantly more expensive.  Essentially overnight, closing costs increased by ½% of the refinanced loan amount for applications not yet locked due to this “Adverse Market Fee.” 

This would have been similar to deciding to buy expensive item at a store with an advertised price on the shelf, and then having the price change while you’re in the check-out line! 

If that happened to you, you’d be upset & probably ask to speak with the store manager! Many mortgage and finance stakeholders did just that, and lobbied to the director of the FHFA to reconsider the surprise fee.  While the fee was not reversed, the FHFA recently announced a delay to the implementation of the Adverse Market Fee until later this year.  As such, there presently is a narrow window to close a refinance application before closing costs skyrocket.

But this window is closing quickly.  Lenders are already starting to announce when they’ll be implementing this Adverse Market Fee.  Some of my lenders have set dates between now and October 5th as the deadline for a loan to be locked to avoid this fee. 

Lots of refinance applications are going to rush through the system in the coming weeks, so its important to get your application in early and follow my “Ready. Aim. LOCK!” plan I detailed in my last blog post.

When you combine the incoming fee increase with the current crazy low interest rates, it makes a compelling case to take action now.  Rarely in our industry do we have a certain forecast as we do now guaranteeing closing costs will be higher in the near future. Rates are literally on sale, but the sale is ending soon!

My wife & I are following my own advice and recently began a refinance application for our mortgage.  I would strongly encourage you to do the same if you have a fixed rate over 3.5%.

Posted by: msundermier | September 3, 2020

I Said Rates Would Go Down…And I Was RIGHT!

Ready…Aim…LOCK!!!

Mortgage rates have been on a wild roller coaster ride for much of the year due to unpredictable and unprecedented Covid-related events.  When rates suddenly began climbing this Spring, I advised refinance clients to submit applications but hold off on locking a rate, as I was optimistic rates would fall in the coming months.  Nearly all of those clients who followed that advice benefited greatly as they locked record low rates this summer. 

Now, mortgage rates are poised to take another dip after rising during most of August. With the stock market having an awful day today, mortgage rates are creeping back to their record lows seen earlier this summer. New season, but same strategy; get an application in ASAP and get ready to lock a rock bottom rate!

Please watch this video detailing how my Spring-time refinance clients followed my advice to lock a low rate, and why you should do the same as we head into Fall! 

If you have considered refinancing in recent months but have hesitated moving forward, now is the time to get an application in with me! Doing so will help us get prepared to lock a record-low interest rate. Here’s what I need from you, and you can upload them safely using this link to Document Guardian:

Returning Clients
Recent pay stubs from the last month
2019 w-2 (or 1099 if retired)
An email authorizing me to pull your credit report
Last month’s bank statement for checking and savings accounts
2019 & 2018 tax returns (only if self-employed or own rental properties)
New Clients
In addition to the documents above, complete an application at https://mattsundermier.zipforhome.com/

Posted by: msundermier | August 13, 2020

Mortgage Rates Are At 1.999%!!!…Or Are They???

This week has been a wild one for mortgages!  Let me breakdown the major headlines for you…

Its been a wild ride…and the week is not over!!!

On Monday, one of our lending partners, United Wholesale Mortgage, began offering 30-yr fixed rates at 1.999%.  Many clients have seen posts on social media about these never-before rates, and have asked if they can get on the action.  Unfortunately, the marketing pieces don’t tell the whole story.  While these rates are technically available, the closing costs are so high most clients will sour to the idea of this offer.  I’m happy to discuss your options with you, but in general I do not recommend applying for these ultra-low rates just yet.

Then on Tuesday, mortgages had their single-worst day all summer, as most programs saw rates climb nearly .25% in a matter of hours due to mortgage investors lowering their demand to buy mortgage bonds.

Finally on Wednesday night, the US government imposed added closing costs for refinance loans.  Yes, they can do this (whether they should is another matter I’ll dive into in this post), and ultimately these costs are passed on to homeowners looking to refinance.

Mortgage rates change because of these three entities: banks, investors, and the government.  Here is a little insight into each, and while all of them influenced rates higher this week, I believe lower mortgage rates are ahead.  Feel free to read the entire post to educate yourself a bit on the dynamics of the mortgage industry.  Above all, however, I want to encourage you to still pursue a refinance application with me as I fully expect mortgage rates to settle down after this volatile week.

Banks – Banks are the connection between you (the consumer) and the market (bond investors).  Think of them as the Amazon of the mortgage biz.  When banks get overwhelmed with loan applications (as they have for the last several months) they make tons of money and take longer to process loans. 

This is just like Amazon, which has made record profits during the pandemic but is also taking longer to deliver items.   When business activity becomes unsustainable, banks raise their rates to slow down new applications. This is why our position as a mortgage broker is so important; we know which lenders are pushing business away and which are putting their rate “on sale” to encourage more business.  Unlike Amazon, mortgage banks do not hold a market monopoly, so we navigate the market to help find you the best rates and terms available.

Investors – Investors are the “free market” component of the mortgage industry, where good old-fashioned Supply & Demand influence the price of a product, in this case the rate on a mortgage.  As economic conditions change, it changes the value of mortgage bond investments. 

This value to an investor is the rate and “points” you pay for a new mortgage.  Generally speaking, when the economy is doing poorly, investors want to buy mortgage bonds because they are seen as a safe investment.  And when the economy is doing well and/or inflation is running high, investors shy away from buying so rates must go up to entice investors to keep buying mortgages.

Government – Whether we like it or not, our US government literally owns the mortgage industry.  The mortgage banks and investors utilize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to have standardized rules for mortgage underwriting and to “package” mortgages into investments.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are owned by the US Government (a result of the mortgage market collapse in 2008), and their Board of Directors (US Congress) has given orders to these companies to be as profitable as possible.  They are not currently acting as a public service entity (as do most government operations); instead they are for-profit organizations for their shareholders (US taxpayers).  To keep up with the Amazon analogy, if you are the consumer and the investor is the market, then the government is the provider of cardboard.  Sounds benign enough, but in this world there is no other manufacturer of cardboard and all packages by law must be wrapped in cardboard.  So when the cardboard company sees Amazon making record profits and consumers getting record-low prices on products, they see a market opportunity for themselves.  They decide to drastically increase the price Amazon must pay for cardboard, so everyone in the supply chain must also increase their prices that the consumer ultimately pays.

This precise act just happened last night in the mortgage industry (read this article if you want to geek out on the details).  In short, the US Government increased the price investors must pay to buy mortgage bonds from refinance loans, which means the banks now have to offer higher rates to offset this price increase. 

In my opinion, this is a dirty “cash-grab” by a government forced to bail out an economy crippled by the pandemic with trillions of dollars in stimulus money.  Their announcement last night references “economic uncertainty” as a justification for the added fee, but if that’s true why didn’t this fee come into play months ago when uncertainty was at its apex, and why not apply it to purchase loans?  I don’t buy their story. 

Penny for the Poor?? I don’t buy it!

Congress is having a hard time passing laws to change taxes and other unemployment relief measures, so the government instead is changing “fees” to their services (you need a law to change taxes, but not fees) to raise money.  As an example, a refinance loan of $400,000 now carries an extra $2,000 fee that wasn’t there yesterday, which ultimately works its way to the government.  Multiply that by the millions of loans potentially closing in the coming months, and you can quickly see the government is taking advantage of their monopoly in the mortgage market.  If you like Calls To Action, the Mortgage Bankers Association has already started an effort to reverse it.  Click here to read their official statement and submit a message to politicians (use my company name in the business info section).

Even though its been a stormy week, there are still lots of flowers to pick and brighter days ahead. For those tiring of my analogies, mortgage rates are still incredibly low and the potential is high for them to fall lower in the near future.

Simply put, this week was a bad week for mortgage rates, but I think better weeks lie ahead.  Our economy is still on the ropes, and uncertainty remains high.  An effective Covid vaccine may never make it to the market, the current state of USPS may make it difficult to have a timely presidential election during this pandemic, and millions of Americans may remain unemployed indefinitely as certain business sectors die under the weight of Covid.  I know those are sobering points, but as long as they remain potential outcomes in the coming months it will keep downward pressure on mortgage rates.  If you have a refinance application in with me or hope to be submitting one in the near future, I urge you to stay the course.  Don’t abort your refinance mission, as I am confident rates will remain low and trend even lower in the coming months.

Posted by: msundermier | June 29, 2020

Mortgage Rates Hit Record Lows! Who’s Ready To Refi??!!

On Friday, we saw mortgage rates hit their lowest levels EVER!  All month long, we’ve been helping many clients refinance to rates below 3%, and we anticipate helping even more through the rest of summer.  Renewed fears of another spike in Covid cases around the country are impacting financial markets, leading to even lower mortgage rates.

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Since Covid first swept the globe earlier this year, life has become incredibly unpredictable.  This is true also for the world’s financial markets, as companies, banks, and investors were constantly re-calibrating the economic risks of Covid.  

 

Typically, the more uncertainty and fear around the world the lower mortgage rates go, but that was not true for most of Spring.  Other factors, which you can learn more about by watching my recent YouTube videos, kept the mortgage industry particularly vulnerable to financial losses, so rates did not go into a free-fall.

Now with a second round of Covid cases all but inevitable and a volatile presidential rates droppingcampaign right around the corner, mortgage rates may be poised to take another dip.  If you have thought about refinancing, please get in touch with me ASAP.  We are helping more clients than ever refi to lower rates, shorter terms, or take cash out to pay off debt, but keep in mind not all loan scenarios are able to capture these record low rates.  Furthermore, underwriting a refinance is taking longer than normal, so its important to get your application submitted to us before any potential sudden rate drops.

I look forward to the opportunity to help you navigate your options and grab the lowest rates in our lifetimes!!!

Have a Happy & Safe 4th of July!

Posted by: msundermier | May 13, 2020

Mortgage Rates in the 2s? Yeah, I Got Those!

OUR LOWEST RATES EVER!

As an independent mortgage broker, I have the ability to find you the best mortgage options in the marketplace.  More and more mortgage banks are making drastic policy changes amidst the new Covid-economy.  Some are pushing business away to avoid uncertain risks.  For example, big banks like Wells Fargo & Chase have made it harder to qualify for loans with them.  On the other hand, other firms are luring in business by offering competitive rates and reasonable guidelines.  That’s why its so important that consumers like you utilize the services of a broker like me; to find you the best opportunities!

Case in point…one of our top lenders just introduced a program offering unbeatable fixed rates for certain scenarios!  If you have been thinking about refinancing to get a lower rate or a shorter loan term, now is the time to act.  This new program is not for everyone, as it doesn’t apply to cash-out refinances or rental properties, but for many folks looking to lock in a rate in the 2s, THIS IS IT!

Watch this video to learn more about the criteria & if you think you meet the criteria, give me a call or an email to discuss further.  I anticipate a high level of interest in this new program, so I will handle inquiries on a first-come basis.

 

Posted by: msundermier | April 15, 2020

Should You Make Your Next Mortgage Payment?

Times are uncertain, so skipping a few mortgage payments sounds nice, right? Not so fast.

In response to the economic turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress passed an unprecedented 2.2 TRILLION dollar financial aid package for Americans. Known as The CARES Act, it aims at relieving businesses and individuals from economic hardships, including provisions to allow folks to request mortgage payment forbearance for the next several months. Awesome, right??!! Not so fast.

The intentions of this policy were wise, as a mortgage payment is often the single largest monthly expense for households. But, the unforeseen ripple effects of hundreds of billions of dollars in delayed payments has the potential to cripple the entire mortgage industry, put homeowners in perilous financial positions, cause grave damage to the overall economy.

To explain the economics of this issue, I’ll briefly touch on lessons of history, politics, English, and zoology.  I know its long, but please take the time to understand the full story and the negative consequences you and society at large may face if pursuing mortgage payment forbearance.

 

First, A Bit of History

On March 27th, President Trump signed The CARES Act, a package of profound financial aid to Americans. The last time the federal government swooped in to save the economy, it was 2008 and TARP (“Troubled Asset Relief Program”) was passed to primarily bail out large (ie-“too big to fail”) banks in the midst of the “Mortgage Meltdown.” There was much criticism about how big banks were saved but the “little guy” was left out in the cold, so today’s policy makers didn’t want to repeat that same formula. WERF-00017390-001The CARES Act is more focused on small businesses and individuals, and includes direct cash payments as well as the option to request to defer payments for the next 6-12 months without proof of financial hardship. As long as the mortgage is backed by a government entity, the mortgage servicer must honor the request. But, what the mortgage servicer must also honor is the monthly funds owed to the mortgage bond holders. In a nutshell, mortgage companies have to keep paying money out even though money is not coming in. YIKES!

Mortgage servicers will be facing incredible cash crunches and have repeatedly asked policy makers to establish a lifeline allowing mortgage servicers to borrow money from The Federal Reserve Bank to keep money flowing through the system. Without this form of aid, the mortgage industry as we know it could die.

 

Next, A Little Politics

As of this writing, the most influential politician on this matter insists that government intervention is not yet needed. Mark Calabria, the appointed director of Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) who directs Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, has a track record of disfavoring the government coming to the rescue in turbulent times. In fact, he’s gone on record to say if he were in charge during the Mortgage Meltdown of 2008 he would have let the very institutions he currently leads fail! Moreover, Mr. Calabria recently estimated “2 million borrowers would seek forbearance requests by May” and suggested if mortgage servicers get in trouble they could always sell their mortgage accounts to the larger mortgage servicers. Mr Calabria is either tragically miscalculating or misinformed on both fronts.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the industry already processed well over 2 million requests by early April, and this number will only increase as our economy struggles to fully bounce back from shutdowns. Furthermore, the two largest mortgage servicers in the country, Wells Fargo & Chase Bank, have established policies in the last week to drastically reduce the amount and types of new mortgage

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Mortgage firms may go bankrupt

s they are willing to take on. There is no way the larger mortgage outfits will be a backstop to these new kinds of toxic mortgages with payment forbearance. Since the payment forbearance phenomenon was not created by the free markets, the free markets are not able to be the solution. Government intervention is essential, and at this time support to mortgage companies is only being offered to loans related to VA & FHA, which is a very small minority of the overall mortgage market.

 

Siri, What Does Forbearance Mean?

Unless you have a Jeopardy-sized vocabulary, forbearance is not a word you use often. Oxford dictionary says its “the action of refraining from exercising a legal right, especially enforcing the payment of a debt.” Simply put, forbearance does not mean forgiveness. Mortgage companies may temporarily refrain from collecting your payments, but they won’t hold back any longer than legally necessary, and likely won’t play nice when that time comes.

 

Survival Instincts Will Take Over

With inevitable liquidity issues and no sign of an immediate parachute from the federal government, mortgage servicers have impossible decisions ahead of them. Sadly, I believe this will force mortgage servicers to avoid favorable forbearance agreements at all costs. They will only play as nice as necessary to follow the law, but be ruthless otherwise. If you went through a short-sale or loan-modification process during the last housing recession, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

For example, there are no rules that govern when these deferred mortgage payments are re-paid. Even this video from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is vague. Potential options your mortgage servicer may offer: 1.) tack the payments on at the end of the loan; 2.) spread the missed payments over a period of time; or 3.) demand the payments be made in a lump sum.

e959fb34-c706-439d-bf8d-aee4215276beWhat would you do if you ran out of cash and someone was overdue on a loan due to you? You’d force them to play catch up ASAP, right??!!  Its not greed.  Its not nasty.  Its survival.

 

Mortgage servicers will do the same thing, forcing a homeowner who skipped payments at, say, $2000/month for 3 months & now pay $8000 in a lump sum in the 4th month. Obviously, most folks who truly need the payment reli6d414dac-6ee1-4973-b54a-0f8cdb5bc8d7ef in the coming months likely won’t be in a position to make a single catch-up payment, but tragically mortgage servicers are not in a position to float millions of skipped payments over the next few months and then patiently wait for reimbursement at the end of a 30-year loan. They have been backed into a corner, and will use any means necessary to try and survive.

I remain optimistic that policy intervention and clarity will eventually calm this situation down, but until it does every mortgage servicer is in a choke hold.

 

What Should I Do?

If you have suffered a big economic loss and cannot make your mortgage payment, by all means call your mortgage company and request payment forbearance. Yes, this may mean you are forced into a lump sum payment at some point, but that is tomorrow’s problem. You have bigger problems today; take the payment relief and hope repayment options are more favorable when you’re back on your feet.

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If you still have cash, keep making your monthly payments!

BUT, if you are still able to make your mortgage payments, please continue to do so. Consider taking advantage of the delayed tax filing deadline (extended 90 days to July 15th!), but don’t delay making your mortgage payments unless absolutely necessary. Staying out of forbearance will allow you to keep your options open for refinancing if rates slip down (forbearance generally disqualifies you from getting a new mortgage) & will help you avoid a build-up of payments that will likely need to be paid all at once in the future. It is not only in your best interest, but also in the best interest of the mortgage industry and our country at large. If too many borrowers utilize payment forbearance, the mortgage system could face catastrophic failure that would result in a housing crash worse than the Mortgage Meltdown of the late 2000s.

Spread The Word, Not The Virus

Please pass this post along to as many friends and family as possible, and do your part to encourage folks who have been considering mortgage forbearance to know the full story. In the meantime, stay safe, stay inside, and stay sane!

Posted by: msundermier | March 27, 2020

A Different Kind of March MADNESS!

We are living in a generational-defining moment. How we cope and change amid this COVID-19 pandemic will define humanity for years to come. While I hope we bounce back quickly, I fear we have a long road ahead; medically, socially & financially. Even then, “normal” will have a very different feel compared to life before the pandemic.

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On the economic front (the only front I really should dip a toe into on this blog), each week in March has seen unprecedented events, only to be outdone the very next week. It has truly been MARCH MADNESS!!! Mortgage rates, for example, hit their lowest levels ever on March 6th, but then saw rates climb faster than any other time in recent memory on March 13th. Then on March 19th, The Federal Reserve Bank began injecting a record amount of funds into the mortgage market to stabilize rates. Their intervention had positive effects for standard mortgages, but this week we are seeing irregular mortgage products (ie – Jumbo loans or alternative documentation loans) essentially vanish from lender’s rate sheets, terribly reminiscent of the 2008-2009 “mortgage melt-down” crisis.

It has been an astonishing roller coaster ride, & I’ve been recording short videos in recent weeks to keep clients up to date on these mortgage market developments (click here for the YouTube Playlist).

Today’s video (see below; complete with fun green-screen effects!!!) is a recap of some of the latest developments, most notably this week’s jobless claims and stimulus package details, and also a forecast of what to look for in the days and weeks ahead.

Here’s why I feel this is important insight for my clients. Over the last 40 years, every US economic recession has forced mortgage rates lower. Many folks argue COVID-19 will push us into a recession; how could it not!!?? This week’s unemployment claims figure of 3.3 million is nearly 5 times higher than the previous high, and our government is poised to pass a 2+ trillion dollar stimulus package, which may stop the bleeding but it alone will not turn the tide on this crisis. It’s very possible mortgage rates will push lower in the near future, so as a community we should be prepared for that opportunity.

But it’s not as simple as saying a recession automatically leads to lower mortgage rates. The mortgage market has tremendous hurdles currently facing it that could push rates higher. Either watch today’s Mortgage Market Video here, or keep reading below:

 

  • RISK of buying mortgage bonds has increased dramatically – With millions of people being laid off each week with no end in sight, investors of cufa4b2a71-31f3-41d1-b18c-d59fe7e2aad7rrent mortgage bonds are worried about higher delinquency and foreclosure rates. This withers away the value of their current investments, and makes them leery of purchasing more new ones. If you got food poisoning from eating at a particular restaurant, would you go back right away? That’s the dilemma facing mortgage bond buyers at the moment, and rates have to go up to lure them back.
  • Lenders are UNCERTAIN if they can sell new mortgages for a fair price – when we start a loan with you, we lock in the rate upfront with a bank. That bank has to then guess what the value of that mortgage will be on the open market when we close in 30-45 days. This is known as “hedging,” and the more volatile the market the more expensive it is for the banks to hedge. With unprecedented market swings, banks are spending a ton of money hedging their bets, and this cost gets passed on to you via higher mortgage rate offerings.  Some lenders are suspending locks until loans are underwriting, creating further problems and uncertainties for banks and borrowers.
  • Most lenders will have CAPACITY issues to handle a big surge of refi applications – With the unknowns of today’s economy, most banks are not looking to hire new staff. But, if mortgage rates drop dramatically they’ll need more staff to handle all of the new refinance applications OR take much longer to underwrite files. To keep a “governor” on the speed they receive new applications, banks may keep their rates artificially higher even though normal market conditions would suggest rates should be lower.

0c5067a2-878d-41c3-9d4a-fee88781e89aDue to RISK, UNCERTAINTY & CAPACITY issues, the current market requires a different game plan. In years past, if mortgage rates suddenly dropped I’d call as many clients as possible to jump on a refi application. In today’s environment, however, we have to be more pro-active. We need to have an application in place BEFORE the rate drop. Doing so allows us to serve more clients during those short windows when mortgage rates fall. And doing so gets you ahead of everyone else who is sitting on the sidelines. If your application is in & the underwriter has approved it, you’ll be in the front of the line for record low mortgage rates.

Will mortgage rates fall below 3%? I don’t know for sure. If the last few weeks have taught us anything it’s that nothing is for certain, but I’d like to spend my time & talents helping you to prepare for such an opportunity. If you’d like to discuss further your potential refinance goals, please get in touch with me. We’ll lay out a game plan, whether it be for a low rate, cash in your pocket, or a big reduction in your monthly payment. Let’s prioritize goals, gather needed application documentation, and work together to stay apprised of mortgage market developments.

Stay safe out in this world, and sane inside your cozy home!

Posted by: msundermier | March 11, 2020

Mortgage Rates Are in A Free-Fall, Right???

 

panicbutton2The last two weeks have been filled with dramatic headlines about our financial markets and global economy. The Fed had an emergency meeting, stock trading was halted for a brief period, and US government bond rates hit record lows. The markets have been in “panic” mode.  I’ve always said  mortgage rates improve when there is bad news, so mortgage rates are surely in a  free-fall, RIGHT???

In short, no. Mortgage rates don’t tend to move as quickly as other markets during extreme swings. For example, the rate on 10-yr US bond rates fell .42% last week while 30-yr mortgage rates fell only .08%. There are a number of reasons for this inconsistency, but the point worth making here is that mortgage rates are not in a free-fall…yet!

I believe mortgage rates will fall further in the near future, and last week’s volatility is a clear reminder of just how fragile our economic markets have become. We have spoken to a ton of clients in recent days, and most are deciding to wait for lower rates before taking action. I think this is a wise move for a number of reasons.

rates dropping

The Mortgage Rate Roller-Coaster Ride is far from over!

First off, significant mortgage rate declines tend to lag behind other market movements. If the world economies and governments continue to grapple with the spread of Covid-19, it will give mortgage rates a chance to “catch-up” and fall further.

david-v-goliath

It won’t take much of a punch to knock down our current financial markets.

Secondly, I believe the financial markets are fatigued and vulnerable to further volatility. Much like a heavyweight boxer in the twelfth-round, it doesn’t take much of a hit to knock out an exhausted fighter. The US Stock market has been on its longest “bull” run in history; it can’t go on forever. The recent market hysteria over the Covid-19 fears and of a potential price war in the oil markets prove it doesn’t take much for the current markets to get scared. I strongly believe the world’s financial markets are “on the ropes,” and the next knock-out punch will be coming soon.

Finally, it rarely pays off to chase markets. A few lucky clients did lock in great interest rates last week amidst the crazy market swings, but most of them had already been in previous conversations with us about a transaction. Thus far this week we’ve seen the markets “rebound” and give back much of the rates drops experienced last week. Rather than regret the missed opportunity of chasing last week’s market, I would advise everybody else to get ready to pounce on the next opportunity.   Luck favors the prepared, so begin discussions with us now about potential refinance goals. Doing so will allow us to monitor the markets for your particular situation, and swiftly act when the opportunity presents itself.

Please give me a call or email so we can set up a 10-minute phone appointment. I’ll be working nights and weekends as needed in the coming weeks, so I look forward to finding a time and method to communicate with you soon.

Posted by: msundermier | February 4, 2020

You Need To Know This

2019 was a remarkable year for our firm.  We exceeded every prior record our team set, from loans closed to homes sold.  We added three new team members, taking our total to over 10 for the first time ever.  We increased our office space.  And we achieved all of this while I was gone for over half of the year.

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For eight months I was on a sabbatical out of the country with my family. We sold our house and cars and lived on a sailboat in the Caribbean!  It was an incredible chapter in our lives, but this post is not about our adventures (visit @SV_Storymaker for that) . 

 

This is about the amazing team here at the office who made it all possible by caring for my clients while I was away.

f90dec07-34d3-4eaf-95e9-35d07b62f40cIts not easy for a small-business owner to take time away from their company.  If you ask other entrepreneurs, most would tell you they’ve never left for more than a couple of weeks, and even then were handcuffed to their cell phone just in case they were needed.  Its common for an owner to be needed; after all its their company!  Who else is going to handle the emergencies and tough decisions?

So how was I able to do it?  Preparation of and trust in our team.  This sabbatical was calculated for nearly a decade (watch this video for the backstory I shared prior to last year’s departure).

Every major life and business decision revolved around this singular goal of taking some extended time away with my family. As such, we were building a business that could survive without me.  My business partner of 8 years, Lisa Ferro, has built The Blue Waters Group with me and has the same principles instilled in her approach to our company and clients.  My support team of Donna Adams and Jennifer Perry have learned to do most facets of our job better than me, so I knew you were in safe hands.  And my wingman, Chris McGann, the one who was recruited in 2013 to fill my role during this eventual sabbatical, became an All-Star mortgage and real estate consultant proficient at replacing me to care for you.

Sure, there were marketing pieces that were sent to you on my behalf while I was away, but I was removed from the day-to-day operations.  I trusted my team because we prepared for this.  My cell phone stayed with my team while I was gone; I did not check my work email from remote locations.  I was not called upon when a transaction became complicated.    I was not needed.

I am forever grateful for my team who not only kept the business alive in 2019, but who made it thrive as never before.  I’m sharing this with you to remind you that what we do does not begin and end with me; the team approach to our services is what makes us great.  Take comfort in knowing there is a team behind me who is caring, capable, and committed to serving you in my absence, whether for a single phone call or an entire sailing season!

Cropped Group

Caring, Capable, Committed (& pretty darn Charming!) team at The Blue Waters Group

Posted by: msundermier | January 28, 2020

Tooting Our Horn

As a referral-based business, we let others do the bragging for us.  Our reputation has grown over the years through the praises of previous clients.  We are constantly in gratitude for the referrals that fuel our firm’s very existence.  Every now and then, however, we have to toot our own horn, if for no other reason to give you more reason to keep bragging about us to your friends, family & co-workers!

2020 5Star Logo Landscape

For the ninth year in a row, I have been recognized in February’s issue of Sacramento Magazine as a Five-Star Professional.  Moreover, I am the only person in the entire region who received the award as both a mortgage professional and real estate agent.

To give these awards credence, they are given by a research firm based in Minnesota called Five-Star Professional who conducts annual research on our market’s practitioners.  You can read about their methodology here.   Unlike the many “Best Of” voting contests where customers are encouraged to vote (often repeatedly!) for their favorites, the Five-Star awards are determined by third-party research, peer evaluations, and objective criteria.

Overlapping 1% pie charts

For the 2020 Class in Sacramento, 1% of the professionals in each researched category were selected.   It is an esteemed award to receive, as only 135 real estate agents and 27 mortgage professionals were recognized in Sacramento.  To set me apart, I was the only person recognized in both categories.

To compare it to an athletic feat, winning both Five-Star awards is like a baseball player winning both the Triple Crown and Gold Glove awards, suggesting they are equally great at offense and defense (no one has done this since 1967; can you guess who it was?).  The skills needed to hit and field a baseball are distinct, but both are crucial to winning the game. 

The dichotomy yet synergy of my combined careers are similar.  The talents needed to be an effective real estate agent are different than those of a mortgage professional, yet for my business both are essential to helping my clients through successful transactions.  It has been my career’s mission to excel at both disciplines.  I’ve had doubters & “haters” who claimed it couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be done.  Receiving these awards is a gratifying milestone at quieting the skeptics.

Historically, offering both services was a rare model but is now becoming a fad in our industry.  Big real estate firms such as ReMax and Redfin have branched out into offering mortgage services.  I’ve had years of honing our multi-disciplined craft; they have some catching up to do on the little yet mighty Blue Waters Group!

Thank you for your support and validation of our business model.  We look forward to building on these latest accolades, and continuing to be the trusted team you turn to for your mortgage AND real estate needs!

PS – I’m not done bragging!  In next week’s post, I need to tell you about some pretty awesome things about my team.  Until then, GO NINERS!!!

 

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