Gateway Mortgage Group: Less-Stress Lending
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: John Brackett
The decision whether to rent or buy the place where you lay your head on the pillow at night often begins and ends with the numbers. What can you afford? How big is your nest egg? What are the costs for insurances, utilities, and the care and keeping of your future abode? Balance sheets are handy, mathematically-sound tools that provide straight-forward answers to this big question. However, for some people, it’s all those nettlesome, jumbled up emotions, wishes, dreams, fears, and expectations tossing around in between the beginning and end of deciding on a home address that may cause a great deal of consternation and confusion.
The home financing professionals at Gateway Mortgage Group, one of the largest privately held mortgage bankers in the country, are in the neighborhood and ready to help you wade through the numbers and illuminate the possibilities. When the end goal is home ownership, the search should begin with the pre-approval process, said Jack Little, Gateway’s originating manager for their Bluffton and Beaufort offices. “We look at income and assets, then we look at the products that are right for them, and then we find the right payment.” Beginning a home search only makes sense knowing how much a lender is willing to lend; otherwise, the search may become a futile expedition. Imagine the home of your dreams has come on the market, and it’s beyond your financial reach… serious disappointment.
There is a big difference between what your financial picture reveals as possible, and what payment actually makes sense, keeping in mind all those in-between factors like family, health, goals, and emotions. “The worst feeling in the world is to see the house you want, and then it doesn’t fit into your financial budget,” Little said. “It’s not that you can’t afford it, or that you’re not qualified, but because you won’t find the right house after that. You should always be pre-approved before you go searching for houses. We tell them what they can qualify for and then we help them find the payment that’s comfortable for them.”
It is this laser focus on doing what is right for the customer on which Gateway Mortgage Group’s founder, Kevin Stitt started the company out of his Tulsa, Oklahoma garage in 2000, and is the reason financial industry veteran and Charleston native Little came on board. “The reason I came here was the fact that they stood on the business concept that if we do what’s best for the borrower, then everything else will work out. The owner looked at me and said whatever you need to close a loan, tell me and we’ll get it. It’s an amazing company. I could pick up the phone, and Kevin Stitt would be calling me back within an hour or two.”
The Bluffton branch of Gateway opened in July of 2013, with the objective of being located near the geographic center of Beaufort County, Little said, and quickly followed with their Beaufort location in April of 2015. Gathered around Little is a team of local financial powerhouses including loan originators Sheri Little, Paddi Bailey, Eric Stafford, and Steve Ross. “I work on their team,” Little said. “We are what we are because of them, and what brought them to Gateway was the less-documentation approach, and the support from the corporate office.”
One of the primary reasons Gateway Mortgage Group has been able to attract such experienced and well-respected professionals is also one of the reasons loans are getting done and business is booming. “The thing that makes us different is that we don’t have all the banking overlays. We make decisions right off the Fannie Mae guidelines, so it makes things much more efficient and quicker to get things done,” Little said.
“Our company is adamant that we do not over-document our borrowers, and that allows us to collect less documentation,” he explained. “At Gateway, every borrower is different, because when we put their loan through the underwriting engine, it comes back with requirements per that borrower’s credit situation. At most banks, everybody has to do everything.
“We do get the basic information up front, which is two pay stubs, two W-2s, a driver’s license, and two month’s asset statements. Then we submit the file to underwriting; it’s not a loan officer’s or processor’s job to anticipate what an underwriter will want,” Little said. “We send it in, and then we let our underwriters come back and tell us what they need to do the loan. It allows us to submit the file faster to underwriting; it allows the realtors to see if the deal is going to work; it allows the borrower to satisfy the financing and appraisal contingencies faster. It’s unbelievable.”
Gateway Mortgage Group offers a menu of loan options that meet a wide variety of needs including options not offered by many other lenders, such as their FHA 203K Renovation Loan and the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan, which Little said recently made it possible for the complete renovation of an historic Port Royal home. “We don’t know of anyone else in the area who does these loans; it’s very limited.”
Additionally, local knowledge is an asset Little sees as critical to a successful lending relationship. “It’s good to use a local lender because of the unique flood insurance challenges we have, along with HOAs, and additional fees that are part of the home buying experience in the Lowcountry,” Little said. Servicing of their loans is also done in-house at Gateway. “If you ever have an issue, you can always call your loan officer (the loan officer that closed your loan), and we can help you resolve any questions you may have with your payments.”
Beginning and ending with the numbers, Gateway Mortgage Group has their sights firmly focused on the customer’s needs and financial well-being; and with the ability to blend the finances with the emotions, wishes, fears, and expectations, customers are finding their dreams coming true.
The Bluffton branch is located at 27 Towne Drive, Suite 301 – (843) 815-2999. The Beaufort branch is located at 24 Professional Village Circle – (843) 321-8834. For more information, please visit gatewayloans.com.