It’s the season of giving thanks, and for those who have worked in the mortgage and servicing industry throughout the ups and downs seen in the housing market, there are many aspects of the business to be thankful for these days. DS News spoke with several mortgage professionals to discuss their mortgage background, what changes they have seen over the course of their tenure in the industry, and what they love about the work that they do.
For the fourth installment of this series, DS News sat down with Jon Buerkert, Vision Property Management’s Chief Business Officer.
What is your background as a mortgage professional?
I was the second full-time employee hired by Vision back in 2007 through a childhood friend who was the first full-time hire there. Really, what attracted me to the business, besides the fact that I was working with a close friend of mine, was that we came to work every day and made people's dreams come true, specifically, surrounding homeownership. It's a very rewarding experience to have a customer cry to you over the phone because you helped them realize their dream of owning a home.
We do this though a lease option model, so technically it's not necessarily a traditional mortgage or a traditional real estate transaction. Yet, we were selling to them the opportunity that most people would never have given them, an opportunity to own, to build their own equity in a home that they can consider their own for them and their family. That's a very, very, rewarding experience to have that every day be your goal, and then live it, and see the people whose lives you're affecting and changing.
We obviously started small. We started with four homes in the state of Pennsylvania. We grew it, and continue to buy with the long-term buy and hold.
What are the best parts about your position in the industry?
When you work a job, obviously, number one, you want to get paid. You want to be able to put food on the table for your family, and have some benefits, and maybe some vacation time. That's all well and good. But the interactions with customers are the most rewarding. Specifically, it’s the call or email from a customer with pictures of their home. They could be crying or laughing, and they're excited because they have an opportunity that they never thought they'd ever have or have again after going through a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or credit problem, in their past. Now we're giving them an opportunity again.
I'm not doing that day-to-day anymore like I was when I first started. For me, the excitement I get now is the opportunity to partner with banks and servicers that we've never bought from before and show them value in what we do and our model by helping them get the value back out of the assets they've had to repossess.
In looking back five years, what aspects of the industry have changed or shifted?
Obviously, five years ago, the world was crumbling. Houses were at the bottom of the valley, and values were plummeting. What we're seeing now is, particularly this year, the market is becoming a seller's market. Buyers can come in and demand, not only a price reduction, but all closing costs paid, and everything in between involving repairs through the inspection. We're noticing that things are turning around from that standpoint which means values are increasing. When values increase, and people are able to get their asking price, then what naturally is going to happen is banks and services are going to be able to lend again or loosen the reigns on lending somewhat. That's going to be good for bank of lease option agreements and customers who are going to be looking for traditional financing in the coming months and years. They are in an absolute fantastic position to qualify for a bank loan, because they hopefully have been working on their credit. The home is going to appraise well above what they owe. When they do exercise that option and get that traditional bank loan, they're sitting in a great equity position. Then they can go, later down the road, and resell the home and capitalize on that. Again, it's a really cool position to see these types of customers get themselves into.