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Understanding Which Mortgage Loan Is Right for You: An Interview with Susanne Livingston of Residential Wholesale Mortgage, Inc.

By Susanne Livingston

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

Residential Wholesale Mortgage, Inc. (RWMI) was founded in 1994 by Brad and me, who at that time had over a decade of real estate and lending experience. Our goal was to provide customers with competitive rates while providing a more personal loan processing approach. Currently 85 employees now support this vision, and RWMI has four branch offices that serve the entire state. In addition, RWMI also has a commercial division that services commercial clients throughout the entire US. All clients have direct access to loan professionals and are pre-underwritten within 24 hours of receiving documentation. Clients have an extensive variety of products to choose from depending on their financial needs.

What is one of the most important things for potential homeowners in Southern California to know when they're starting to look at the different types of home loans?

One loan program does not fit all and all loan consultants are not the same. Each and every homeowner is unique and has their own short- and long-term goals with respect to homeownership. Borrowers need to seek out mortgage professionals who will thoroughly analyze their income, credit and assets available for down payment, before making the decision to purchase a home and meeting with a real estate agent. A loan consultant will discuss all products that are available to the borrower and direct them to the one that best suits their needs. Many times buyers begin the home search process without thoroughly understanding what they can afford. It's important to remember that anyone can quote a rate, but not everyone can deliver, so beware. RWMI and most experienced mortgage bankers do not charge for a pre-approval service, so make sure you know what you can afford before getting your hopes up on your dream home.

Is there a common misconception about mortgages that you've seen first-time home buyers have?

First-time home buyers typically do not have misconceptions, but rather have many questions about how the entire loan process works, and are especially concerned about their potential monthly loan obligation and costs associated with the transaction. RWMI patiently reviews these details with borrowers and carefully explains all first-time home buyer products that are in the marketplace today.

How should people approach trying to understand the types of loans that are available to them and deciding which one is the best fit?

The key factors to discuss with your loan professional before selecting the correct loan product are:

  • A. How much money is available for the down payment?
  • B. What do you qualify for, and does the monthly payment fit your budget?
  • C. How long do you plan on being in the property?
  • D. Am you eligible for a VA or FHA loan?
  • What are two or three of the most common types of loans that people apply for in Southern California and the main benefit of each one?

    The three most common loans are a fixed rate loan, an adjustable rate loan, and government loans (VA and FHA). A 30-year fixed rate loan is one of the best loans in today's market as interest rates are still at 40-year lows. An adjustable rate loan is great for someone who is planning on residing in their home or holding an investment property for a shorter amount of time. Most adjustables are fixed for the initial periods of 3, 5, 7 and 10 year periods, and convert to a 1-year adjustable after the initial fixed rate period. These adjustables have specific indexes, margins and caps, so be sure to ask your loan professional to explain how these details impact future interest rate adjustments. Another excellent program is a VA loan which offers 100% financing for qualified applicants. FHA products are utilized by many first-time home buyers who only have a minimum of 3.5% to use for a down payment. That 3.5% may be gifted by a family member who may be added as a co-borrower for qualification purposes if necessary.

    What advice would you give to prospective home buyers who want a lot of flexibility with their mortgage?

    An interest only adjustable rate mortgage is a very flexible product if you are looking for the lowest payment, yet want the ability to make additional payments to principal when your budget allows. If you have equity in your home or investment property this is also a good option to consider. This is typically not a first-time home buyer product, but rather for borrowers who are well qualified and understand the additional risk of selecting an adjustable rate mortgage.

    What's the best way for people to get in contact with you and your company?

    Visit us online and "apply now" through a secure portal. If you have questions and prefer a more personal approach please call our office to speak to a loan officer immediately at 800-865-6266. If you are calling after hours please dial 858-395-6400 to speak directly with a licensed professional.

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