Leo Mortgage, Ambler
34 Years Active in Real Estate-affiliated Field
Please expand on your previous leadership experience
I began my career in Real Estate working as a loan office at Cardinal Financial Company in 1987. That same year, I joined what was- at the time – Central Montgomery County Association of REALTORS®. I was a volunteer for several committees before I began to take on more leadership positions. I was asked to Chair the newly formed Affordable Housing Committee. There I created a database of the many first-time buyer programs and grants from various lenders across the County. This in turn enabled REALTOR® members a single place to locate the various first-time buyer / grant programs to help their clients. I was awarded the President’s Distinguished Service Award as well as twice being awarded Affiliate of the Year. I am also a 30-year member of the Montgomery County Partners for Homeownership – created in 1993 with the goal of raising homeownership levels in Montgomery County. I served as VP of this group and still contribute to it today. I was a top-producing salesperson at my first “paying” job and recruited to become an in-house lender for a large real estate firm. These experiences led me to open my own company – Leo Mortgage – in 20023, where I have been ever since. I created systems of operation, recruiting, hiring and training other lending professionals. In each experience, I was successful – with the help of others- in leading the group forward
What role do you hope to play on the Board?
I hope to utilize my experience and skills in order to contribute to the Board and further my own education in the industry.
Early on I learned how the lending world plays a key part in the real estate transaction. I hope to contribute from my experiences and play the role of industry insider / expert when it comes to Real Estate Financing. I have a firm knowledge of Agency and Portfolio lending guidelines. With the majority of mortgage loans coming from FNMA / FHLMC, I feel I can contribute in advising the Board – and through it its members – of important industry happenings as well as tips and trends. This, in turn, may help the members in structuring financing – creating a sale where one didn’t exist or accepting an offer on a listing because of something they learned from the Board of Directors. A quick example may be having the buyer pay both sides of the transfer tax – thus making a higher offer without the seller / listing agent having fear of an appraisal issues.
What Association benefits and/or offerings have provided you the most value in your business?
The educational offerings provide tremendous value to grow professionally. The professional development, membership training and library of webinars all provide the opportunity to grow my business by learning from other industry professionals. The market statistics, access to PAR and NAR and insight from the Suburban REALTORS® Alliance all keep me informed and up-to-date. As far as “tools” are concerned, I believe DocuSign has been a game-changer. Many the nights were spent meeting clients to have documents signed and this benefit has provided great value. But the greatest benefit I’ve experienced is having a “seat at the table” with the board members who are really driving the industry forward. I’ve had many “Ah Ha” moments in the Board meetings and am grateful to be a part of them. They have provided great insights that I have used when writing a loan, or re-assuring a listing agent of the strength of the borrower in a competitive market.
What industry trends do you feel will affect our association in the upcoming years?
The increase in interest rates has led to a resurgence of Adjustable Rate – or non-traditional – 30-year fixed rate mortgages. Most buyers are scared by the term ‘Adjustable,’ but when explained that it is “fixed for 7 or 10 years” it calms them. I believe this trend will continue when you see the impact interest rates have on buying power. There has always been a standard to have a Pre-Approval accompany the buyer’s offer. But in a seller’s marketing, I find myself calling the listing agent as well – I think this is a trend that will continue. As always, millennials are trending. I read they are the largest and most skeptical generation of homebuyers and make up the largest (44%) of the market. Understanding them and what / how they go about homebuying is critical. they like to do their own research first, but expect high levels of service once they contact you. Real estate professionals need to be both high-tech and high-touch. How the association members prepare for this is critical.
What do you think should be the priority issues being addressed by the Association today?
I think the Association does a great job in assisting REALTORS® in their daily lives. The tools, information and resources all contribute to their success. I think this should continue to be the association’s priority as well as raising awareness of what is available – not only to REALTORS® – but to the buying public as well. The association needs to be the voice of the REALTOR® fighting for property rights and against legislation that is contrary to that. I saw a segment on 60 minutes a few weeks ago about the surge of big corporations buying up entire neighborhoods and making them rentals. While they spruce them up and service them – the theme of the segment was that maybe the American Dream is not owning a home. I think the association should fight this, and prioritize private-property rights and the opportunity for that Dream to remain. This includes advocating, educating and assisting in the purchase of a home – not only to the industry experts (REALTORS®) but also to the buying public.
Why are you interested in serving on the Board of Directors?
I’d like to contribute in whatever way I can to the advancement of the dream of homeownership. I believe I’ve shown – and will continue to show – my dedication to service and protection of that dream. When a home is purchased, so many trickle-down industries are affected. It helps REALTORS®, lenders, plumbers, electricians, appliance makers, etc. But most important is the impact is has on the homebuyer. Think back to the first day you walked into your home – the happiness, optimism and dedication you felt. This is good for the buyer, the community, the local vendors and the country. It is to advance that opportunity for anyone who wants it that makes me interested in serving on the Board of Directors. With your support, I pledge to continue to put the interests of the association members first. Thank you.