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John's Blog

By John Meussner | Mortgage Broker
or Lender in Costa Mesa, CA
  • West Chester Restaurant Festival

    Posted Under: General Area in West Chester, Shopping & Local Amenities in West Chester, Parks & Recreation in West Chester  |  September 9, 2013 2:11 PM  |  383 views  |  No comments

    Chester County Restaurant Festival, West Chester, PA  - September 15, 2013 noon-5:30 pm (rain date 9/22)


         This is one of my favorite events of the year in Chester county and the surrounding areas.  Each year there is a ton of delicious food, great drinks, pleasant atmosphere, and a lot of fun.


         According to the West Chester, PA events website this year there will be a beer & wine garden on North Church St and the 'Chester county culinary cookoff' on the steps of the courthouse.  In addition there will be 7 bands playing in 3 different locations (see flyer below for bands & locations).


         Over 60 restaurants and food vendors will line the streets with affordable deliciousness and there are tons of other vendor booths with everything from crafts to general information. 


         This event is a great time for everyone from children to adults - and to make it better (fingers crossed) the weather is forecasted to be sunny & mild which makes for a truly perfect day.


         Parking is free at the West Chester justice center garage (will likely fill up quickly so get there early!) and the other downtown garages will be open and accessible.


    Make sure to get out and enjoy a great day in West Chester, PA at the Chester County Restaurant Festival!

    West Chester Restaurant Festival Flyer

     

     

     

     


    John Meussner

    NMLS# 138061

    Visit My Website!

     

  • What I've Learned Growing My Business

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Hockessin, How To... in Hockessin  |  September 5, 2013 12:47 PM  |  350 views  |  2 comments

    What I've learned growing my business

    Thanks to the inspiring contest, I've given some thought to what has changed in my business over the past 6+ years in business and WOW.  I came up with a lot.  Since graduating college in 2006, I've learned far more than I had the previous 17 years of schooling. 

    "Experience: That most brutal of teachers.  But you learn, my God do you learn" - C.S. Lewis

     

         When I started in the mortgage industry, I was as green as they come, but anxious to learn everything I could.  I had little money but wanted to market, so I spent hours hand-making flyers, calling and re-calling leads that cost pennies for hours on end, and I thought I'd be at that first company for the rest of my life.  But I learned.  My God did I learn.

    I decided to list the top 10 lessons I've learned that have helped me grow my business into a successful, happy, and productive enterprise.  Hopefully over the next 5 years I'll be able to add to the list, and continue to use what I've learned to grow and prosper.

    1) Always do the right thing - My career began amidst the sub-prime boom.  It seemed if you wanted to borrow 900% of your home's value 1 day after bankruptcy, we had the program for you!  I saw a lot of guys around me prey on people for a quick (and pretty large) buck.  They'd lie, take advantage of people's ignorance, and commit fraud to get more loans done or cover their own back.  I never did.  I also never made as much money as they did back then.  But I'm still in business, I still have a career, and they're long gone.  Never cheat someone for your own gain no matter how bad you need it.  You ALWAYS need your clients referrals and recommendations more.

    2) Keep learning.  During my first year in the business I had access to about 5 lenders.  I thought when people said they were getting a lower rate, or a program I didn't have that they were being scammed, not realizing there were 8 gazillion other lenders out there I knew nothing about.  I now look back and laugh at my naivety. Know your products, know guidelines, and when they change, know they've changed and what they are.  Learn new technology BEFORE it's popular, don't KEEP UP WITH marketing trends - keep AHEAD of them.  Knowledge is power, and knowledge earns trust.  Nothing is more important than trust.

    3) Learn how to take a punch.  Depression.  For days.  The feeling of losing a deal.  Of having someone ready to close the day before they lose their job (and your paycheck).  When someone inexplicably turns into a flake and stops returning your calls after spending hours helping them.  When a short appraisal kills the deal you've worked on for months.  The real estate & mortgage industries can throw a HELLUVA punch, but I've learned how to take it, how to brush it off, and how to keep going - it still stings, but I've learned that when I take a punch to the face, I need to move forward and hit back harder.

    "It ain't about how hard you're hit.  It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward...that's how winning is done!" - Rocky Balboa

     

    4) Get started!  I had some great idea's on how to grow my business. I'd write them down, meet with management, and never get started.  I'd try to perfect something before doing it.  I've learned that you've got to make like Nike and JUST DO IT!  Fix bugs/errors along the way toward perfect, but GET STARTED.  That new marketing plan, that new idea, the SEO on your website, your BLOG.  Just start.  Little by little, perfect will come.  Starting is the hardest part.

    5) Stop micromanaging.  You may well be right in assuming NO ONE on the entire planet can do something as well as you.  I used to want to micromanage my sales, my processing, my underwriting, and my closing.  And my business stayed stagnant.  Sometimes, good enough is good enough and in the end your way might not be the best way.  If you don't trust your team to be good enough, you'll micromanage yourself to nowhere.  You need to grow your business.  Put a team in place and trust them to do their jobs.  Hold them accountable, but DON'T MICROMANAGE.  Time is our most valuable asset, we need to use it on more important things.

    6) Have standards.  When I started I was THRILLED when a realtor wanted to talk or meet with me.  Any realtor, didn't matter who they were.  I quickly learned all realtors are not created equal (I'm sure you know the same of LO's) - too many people in the world are out to inject negativity and vampire suck the time from your life.  If you want to be the best, surround yourself with the best - market to the best - meet with the best.  Don't just MEET with a Realtor (or LO) - have a REASON to meet.  "Why should I meet you?" isn't pretentious, it's a valid question and shows you value your time.  I welcome that question, and it's led to much better referral partners and has saved me countless hours that could've been wasted with time vampires.

    7) Write small checks to cash large checks.  In the beginning, I did all my own marketing, had a free website, used a free blog (I was at least ahead of the curve with web marketing!) and was afraid of spending money.  I since learned that while it's not ok to waste money, INVESTING money into your business is not only good, it's VITAL to growth.  When I started writing checks for training, education, a website, blog, and other marketing avenues, revenue started to increase and VOILA!, I had more time to focus on other areas - a lightbulb went off when I realized that when I pay someone to do something for me, I not only free up the time I'd have spent doing it, but the time I'd have spent learning how to do it!

    8) Pick your battles.  I've spent hours trying to reach an underwriter because they're requesting a stupid condition rather than calling a client and just asking for it.  90% of the time, a client is more than willing to send (or resend) a document that isn't really necessary.  It's often not worth the headache, the stress, and the time in reaching an underwriter and starting a fight.  Save your energy for a battle worth having (sometimes, as we all know, a fight is necessary to get things done).

    9) Sometimes the grass is greener.  I thought my first company was the best company on the planet.  I thought my second company was the worst company on the planet.  I now think the company I'm with is better than my first company.  I've learned that an employer isn't one size fits all.  It's important to look at a business model, philosophy, and direction before making a change, but that sometimes a change is all you need to really take things to the next level.  Change is scary, but often change is good.

    10) Don't worry, be happy.  I used to stress.  I used to worry.  I used to get so emotionally invested into each and every deal because I know how much the mortgage process is affecting people's lives (or is if E-ffecting?  I can never get that right) , and it would DRAIN me.  I've learned that it's not worth it.  No deal, no mistake, no angry client is worth a heart attack at my age.  I work my hardest, try to always do the right thing by and for people, and I've decided that that is enough.  Life is too short, and at the end nobody is going to care about that $50 million you did in May, and even less people will care about that $0 you did in June.  Or what car you drove, or if your house had granite countertops.  They'll remember that you smiled a lot, and laughed a lot, and really cared for others and for life.  I've learned that that is what's important.

    John Meussner

    NMLS# 138061

    Visit My Website!

     

  • Oh, you're a SENIOR loan officer?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Hockessin, Financing in Hockessin, Agent2Agent in Hockessin  |  August 28, 2013 1:59 PM  |  405 views  |  4 comments

    From Dictionary.com:

    sen·ior, adjective


    1) older or elder (designating the older of two men bearing the same name, as a father whose son is named after him, often written as Sr.  or sr.  following the name): I'd like to speak with the senior Mr. Hansen, please. I'm privileged to introduce Mr. Edward Andrew Hansen, Sr.  
    2) of earlier appointment or admission, as to an office, status, or rank: a senior partner.
    3) of higher or the highest rank or standing.
    4) in American schools, colleges, and universities) of or pertaining to students in their final year or to their class.
    5) in certain American colleges and universities) of or pertaining to the final two years of education, during which a student specializes in a certain field of study.

         When I meet a colleague in the mortgage industry, we usually discuss how long we've done the job - most people in this business are at least somewhat fresh - the majority don't make it to 'seasoned' status from what I've seen.  For that reason, I often find myself shuddering when I get a business card or email - HUH?!?  SENIOR loan officer?  Is my memory failing me?  I thought they said they just started 2 months ago?

     
     
        When I started in the business, I received that same bright, shiny new title my first day - SENIOR loan officer.  Wow, I thought, they must think highly of me for that kind of verbiage - but, where are all the junior loan officers?  Why is that sluggish guy who spends his entire day on espn.com and closing 1 deal a month also a 'Senior' loan officer?

     
        Quickly, I realized EVERYONE in the industry was a SENIOR loan officer.  Also quickly, I quit that job title and became what I am today - a mortgage consultant and, officially, MLO.  Perhaps someday, when my hair's a little grayer (fingers crossed I still have hair to see the day!) I'll take on the Sr. tag.

     
         What it really boils down to is over-promising and under-delivering, a practice that really needs to go away. Yes, you know when a potential client sees "Senior Loan Officer" they may assume you know more than if your title was "Brand-new, green, naive, still-learning-how-to-spell-MORTGAGE" loan officer, but what about the 25 year industry veteran (deservedly) using the same title?  You're doing them & the industry a disservice. 

     
         If you just graduated from law school and got a job running errands for a big shot attorney, would your business card and introduction state "Senior Partner"?  Why is it any different?  To me, at least, it seems at least unprofessional, at most blatant false advertising.

     

         So STOP IT!  Shakespeare said it best -  "To thine own self be true" - if you're new to the business, then darn it, proudly rock that "Loan Officer" or "MLO" stamp on your business card - let the world know you're brand new and busting your butt to become the very best.  Everyone starts in the same place and it's nothing to hide.  If you'll overpromise on your experience and knowledge, what else will you overpromise and underdeliver on in your business?

  • When can I get a new mortgage after a short sale?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Hockessin, Financing in Hockessin, Foreclosure in Hockessin  |  August 13, 2013 2:56 PM  |  451 views  |  3 comments

    How long after a shortsale can you get a mortgage? 

     

       I've been getting this question a lot recently - as well as this questions' cousins...how long after a foreclosure?  A bankruptcy? 


       There seems to be a lot of confusion about when someone is eligible for a new loan, so I put together the chart below as an easy reference.  A couple of things to note, though - there is always the possibility of exceptions due to dire circumstances (death of primary wage earner being one of the most oft-granted exceptions) though exceptions to these rules are pretty rare.


       In addition to the seasoning requirements, applicants must also meet all other credit requirements such as FICO score, down payment, and debt/income ratios.  Credit is also scrutinized a bit more after a bankruptcy - a 30 day late is much more of a red flag to an underwriter after a BK, so it's important to keep your credit report as squeaky clean as possible after one of these events.


       Dates for the seasoning are generally based on the end of the event to the new purchase application date - for example, the clock starts when a bankruptcy is discharged, not when it's filed, and runs to the mortgage application date, not the settlement date on a new home.


       More questions about life after foreclosure, bankruptcy, or a short sale? 
    Ask an Expert!

     


       
      Conventional FHA
    Bankruptcy 4 years 2 years

    Foreclosure

    7 years 3 years
    Short Sale

    4 years (potential exception for less

    if sold agency-direct)

    3 years (potential exception for less)

  • Best pizza in Newark, DE

    Posted Under: General Area in Newark, Shopping & Local Amenities in Newark, In My Neighborhood in Newark  |  April 30, 2013 10:29 AM  |  525 views  |  No comments

    The best pizza in Newark, DE - who's got it?


    When I was moving to Delaware a few years back, this was one fo the most important things for me to discover.  A good pizza is my weakness, and going out with a craving and getting into a subpar pie is right up there with lifes great disappointments, so I had to discover for myself, what was the best pizza in Newark, DE?


    Cacciatoris

         Cacciatoris is the perfect pizza for those looking for a classic pie - New York style (the family that runs the store has origins in NY), large slices, thin, delicious doughy crust, and amazing sauce with just the perfect amount of greasy, cheesy deliciousness.  Cacciatoris is the best overall pizza I've had, and it never gets old at Cacciatoris because of their variety.

         Cacciatoris has all of the normal toppings you'd expect, and an extensive menu of specialty pizzas with multiple sizes (the large is an immense 18 inches!).  My personal favorites are the buffalo chicken, hawaiiian, and pepperoni & mushroom.

         Located in the Shoppes at Louviers on Papermill Rd in Newark, DE, Cacciatoris is a great location, close to Newark and Pike Creek and just a short ride from southern Chester county.  In addition to pizza, Cacciatoris has other Italian style dishes, sandwiches, garlic knots, desserts (Cannolis!  YUM!), and recently the shop got a license to serve beer and wine.

    Cacciatori Pizza



    Anthonys Coal Fired Pizza, Pike Creek, DE

         Although Cacciatoris is my favorite pizza in Newark, DE, Anthonys definitely deserves honorable mention - if you love well done pizza cooked in a brick oven (I do!) Anthonys is going to be your best option in the area.

         The Anthonys location in Pike Creek, DE has great ambiance, a full bar, a great beer list, and some really, really good pizza.  Outside of the pizza, the menu here is limited, but the cool atmosphere, friendly service, and delicious pizza more than compensates.

         Crispy, well done crust, zesty sauce and pizza loaded with toppings, Anthonys is a must-try if you're around Newark, DE or any of their other locations.

         Anthonys Pike Creek is located on Limestone Rd right next to Goldey-Beacom college.

    Anthonys Pizza


    Who has the best pizza in Newark, DE?  Decide for yourself, but be sure to give one of the above places a shot!

     

    If you're looking to buy a new home in Newark DE, be sure to give me a call to help with your mortgage financing!

  • Thats Impossible! (aka...we can't do that)

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Hockessin, Financing in Hockessin, Home Ownership in Hockessin  |  March 28, 2013 11:40 AM  |  438 views  |  No comments

    "I thought we couldn't do that because of ________?"  The words of a client that has been misled, intentionally or unintentionally, by a mortgage 'professional'.

    There has been a lot of legislation put into place to weed out the 'bad guys' of the mortgage world over the past few years, and for the most part it's been an effective measure in cleaning up the industry, but as the comedian Ron White says, "you can't fix stupid".  In this case, ignorant might be a better word. 

    Many clients come to me after being turned down by another bank, told "you can't do that", or being offered ridiculous rates/terms elsewhere.  This is often a result of a new loan officer not being well versed in the lending landscape, and sometimes a seasoned loan officer that just doesn't know anything outside of their normal stream of business or niche.

    Recently, I had a very good friend come to me for some refinancing advice after their current lender offered them some pretty poor refinancing terms.  My friend is eligible for the HARP program since their loan is well seasoned & owned by Fannie Mae.  According to my friend, he was told "you can't do that" (referring to the HARP program) because his loan has lender paid mortgage insurance.  While it may be true that some lenders don't allow for HARP w/LPMI transfers, that's not true for the entire mortgage industry.  His current lender instead offered to split the first and second mortgage, resulting in a high(er) interest first mortgage and an interest-only, adjustable rate second mortgage, resulting in a savings of about $50/month.  $50/month savings, and part of that is from applying a portion of the balance to an interest-only loan?  HUH!?  That hardly seems like a benefit to anyone, especially a client whose main goal is to pay off their loan faster and save overall interest costs.

    After a little research of our loan programs, turns out he COULD "do that", as we can transfer lender paid mortgage insurance from most PMI companies with the HARP program - the result in this case is a savings of several hundred dollars each month with the HARP program, a low rate 30 year fixed first mortgage...and all with a program that allows a quick process with no appraisal.

    So, fellow loan officers, a change of verbiage is in order - rather than "YOU can't do that", we should be using the words "WE can't do that" a little more often.  While we're not bound by a fiduciary duty, I'd like to think the ethical thing to do if you know another lender or program is available outside of your offerings that would offer someone a much greater financial benefit....is to direct them to the right place.

    If you cannot help someone and aren't sure if there is another program out there that can, go ahead and offer what you have, give em your best shot, but don't tell someone "That's impossible!" because when they go elsewhere and are told "YES YOU CAN!" your credibility is destroyed.

    I'd rather be on the receiving end of a 'thank you' for directing someone to the right place than risk my credibility trying to push a loan program with no benefit on someone with the words "YOU CANT!" or "THATS IMPOSSIBLE". 

    Lenders - just because YOU can't do that, does not mean it can't be done!

  • Is your credit good, or just good enough?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Hockessin, Financing in Hockessin, Credit Score in Hockessin  |  March 19, 2013 4:29 PM  |  456 views  |  No comments

    Is your credit good or just good enough?  Do you know the difference and how much of an effect it can have on your finances?


    Most of us know that having terrible credit can exclude you from getting a loan.  Many of us also know that having lower credit scores results in higher interest payments and fees for things like credit cards, auto loans, and mortgages.  Is your credit good enough to get a loan?  If so, is your credit GOOD, or just GOOD ENOUGH?  Does it matter?  Let's take a look...


    Have a 660 FICO score?  Not bad!  Not considered perfect, but considered a decent score.  You could certainly get some loan options based on that score.  BUT - would getting your score higher be worthwhile?


    Let's take a look at the numbers, just on a mortgage loan -


    The difference between a 660 FICO score and 725 FICO score will generally result in about a half percent change in interest rate - for this example, we'll use 3.625% for the 725 score and 4.125% for the 660 FICO.


    $200,000 loan amount, 30 year fixed rate mortgage -


    725 FICO, 3.625% interest rate
    Total finance charge over life of loan = $128,360 in interest

     

    660 FICO, 4.125% rate
    Total finance charge = $148,947 in interest



    Taking that FICO score from good enough to really good would save about $20,000 in interest over the life of a loan - and that's just a single 30 year mortgage - Now factor in all of the car loans with higher rates, credit cards with higher rates, and higher insurance premiums along the way - we're talking a LOT of money.


    Also, most home buyers these days don't have 20% to put down  and thus rely on mortgage insurance to allow them to buy a home with as little as 5% down (for conventional loans).  Well, guess what else also takes FICO scores into consideration for pricing?  Yep, that PMI can be pricey depending on your credit score.


    For the same $200,000 loan above, a borrower with 5% down would see the following:


    660 FICO - $200/month mortgage insurance

     

    725 FICO - $111/month mortgage insurance -  $89/month savings, or more than $1000/year!

    It's important to remember that until you (and your clients) credit scores are above the 750-760 range it's always a good move to try to get them higher - credit repair is NOT just for people with poor credit.  Credit repair is also not always a long, tedious, process - sometimes it's as simple as a few simple fixes or updates.

    Click here for an article on how the difference between poor or OK credit and perfect credit can cost someone in the ballpark of $1 MILLION in their lifetime.

     

    When having excellent credit can save you a ton of money, don't settle for good enough!

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