BY SYBILLE C. DENNINGER
FEATURE FRIDAY IS HERE!!!
The big day has arrived and this is the first of many Feature Friday posts where I highlight a great local business to show that we Cape Ann residents don't need to go "up the line" to get stellar goods and services.
The debut Feature Friday is all about Guaranteed Rate and its lovely local Branch Manager Katherine McNally
Guaranteed Rate is one of the 10 largest home loan lenders in the U.S. They offer turnaround times in as little as 2 weeks and loan products to fit almost every need. They proudly have a 96 percent customer satisfaction rating.
Katherine McNally was a pleasure to interview for this post because she is warm, outgoing, knowledgeable, fun to talk to, and she was happy to share some valuable tips with all of us. It was immediately clear to me that she truly cares for her clients and will work very hard to get them the best rate and benefits when they come to her for a mortgage. My business partner Fintan has the good sense of referring clients to Guaranteed Rate, and it really makes him happy when they receive outstanding service from Katherine.
Katherine handles the all important pre-approvals which you should obtain before you start looking to buy a property. Going to showings armed with a pre-approval letter validates you as a qualified buyer, which is especially beneficial in a low inventory market. She originates, underwrites and closes her clients' mortgage transactions. She has well established relationships with local attorneys who, as a special service, will review your Purchase & Sales Agreements free of charge. When you apply with Katherine at Guaranteed Rate you don't have to worry that your personal information such as Social Security numbers or annual income is floating around in cyberspace, being received by lord knows who. While Guaranteed Rate of course offers secure online applictions and allows you to keep track of your mortgage status on their technologically very advanced website, the application itself lands on Katherine's desk where it is treated with the highest confidentiality. With 21 years of experience she is perfectly equipped to navigate the fast changing guidelines and regulations of the lending industry for which you "practically need a pilot's license" as she cleverly put it. Well, fasten your seatbelts for take-off because Katherine can guide you through the often daunting process of obtaining a mortgage.
In addition to flexible hours (literally, as she makes herself available for clients' calls even on weekends and evenings), Katherine has access to product and rate information from 16 different lenders, including special First Time Homebuyer programs, jumbo mortgages with good rates and MA Housing mortgages where you only have to put 3% down without paying PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance). 20% is usually the norm to avoid PMI. Since PMI is no longer tax deductible, Katherine's array of products now includes mortgages where buyers have to put down only 5% with the lender paying the PMI. That is a great deal because PMI will stay with you month after month until your home has reached a 20% Loan-to-Value, which can be years!
Katherine works with clients who need to improve their credit scores to qualify for a mortgage or for a better rate. She has three important tips for potential buyers who are in the process of qualifying for a mortgage:
- Don't close any of your credit card accounts
- Don't open a lot of new ones
- Keep the balances at 30% or less of your credit limit of each credit card
Once pre-approved it is important to continue adhering to that advise because another credit report will be pulled shortly before closing. Ideally that one should not have a lower score than the first because mortgage rates depend, next to the down payment and the loan amount, on the applicant's credit score.
Here are a few other words of wisdom from Katherine when looking for a loan officer:
- Ask for referrals from friends and your real estate agent. Who they enjoy working with is usually a good bet
- Interview loan officers so you can determine whose personality you would be confident to work with the most
- Experience and knowledge are most important
- Work with a local office where the loan officer knows the area, as well as other professionals important to your transaction, such as attorneys, appraisers, etc.
- The best rate and most convincing sales pitch is not a guarantee for a smooth transaction
Thank you, Katherine, for these valuable insights and for being the first for Feature Friday!
Katherine's office is located on the second floor of the Para Research building at 85 Eastern Avenue in Gloucester.
Katherine is also a member of the Cape Ann Referral Group http://www.capeannbiz.com/