By Sandi Frith, of Huntington Bank, WCI Medical School Scholarship Sponsor
Tell Us About Yourself and Your Business. What Is Your Background? How Did You End Up Doing Mortgage Loans?
For as far back I can remember, I loved numbers and figures. I excelled in Math during high school and determined to pursue a career in accounting as a CPA. My parents could not afford my tuition as they were retiring on a fixed income, so I decided to work my way through college. I started a full-time position (executive bookkeeper) and two part-time positions (security officer at a major department store and a Dairy Queen) to pay for school. I attended community college due to lower costs and the flexible schedule I needed to keep working.
After finishing school, I secured a position at an automotive dealership as a finance biller and after a few years, I was promoted to finance manager. Working finance deals, negotiating the best rates for clients, preparing documents, and ensuring customer satisfaction were all key to my success. While I was assisting a client one day, he told me to consider utilizing my skills in the mortgage business. After some thought, I realized that I was ready for another challenge in life so I made the move to a mortgage broker.
I received great training as an entry-level loan officer. A pivotal experience helped me realized I had chosen the right career for me. I was at a closing with a young couple I had assisted when they both hugged me, the wife shedding tears of happiness. I felt so emotional and cried with her. That moment was 24 years ago and I will never forget it. My career was set! The overwhelming feeling of happiness of helping someone with their dream of homeownership will never leave me.
Why Did You Choose to Work for Huntington?
When mortgages started to get more competitive, I thought it would be a more stable environment to work for a bank instead of a broker. Banks had lower fees and slightly more lenient underwriting, portfolio lending, and lower rates. I was lucky enough to find employment with a large Bank and after almost 14 years as one of their top producers in the country, the bank decided to “outsource” to a broker. I did not want to work for a broker again, and I knew Huntington had a physician program that would benefit my business since most of my clients were physicians. It just made sense to choose Huntington given my focus on physicians. Now almost all my clients are doctors!
Tell Us About Huntington’s Physician Mortgage Loan Products.
Huntington offers several programs, which include the adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) products that amortize over a 30 year period, and a 15 Year Fixed product. The ARM products are either 5, 7, 10 or 15 Year ARM’s, which are enhanced with great rates for our physicians. The rate is fixed for either 5, 7, 10 or 15 years, with adjustments for the last 15-25 years of the term. The rates tend to be lower than a traditional 30 year fixed mortgage. If you only intend to live in the home for 4 to 5 years (such as a long residency), why pay a 30 year fixed rate? The savings in interest with the lower ARM rates can add up fast! Most of my attending clients choose the 15 year ARM, as it gives them the “extra incentive” to try and pay the loan off in 15 years by adding money to the principal each month. We are one of very few lenders that offer a 15 Year ARM product!
We require a 10% down payment for loans between $650,000 and $1 Million, but 0% down for anything less than $650,000. Either way, as a doctor you don't pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). Typically, 30-45 days are required from application to closing. If your employment has not yet begun, we do accept fully executed (signed) contracts in lieu of pay stubs. Some people wonder how our underwriters will treat your student loans. For residents and fellows, we utilize a student loan calculator (similar to an IBR calculation) to qualify the mortgage loan. However, for attending physicians, if no payments are listed on the credit report, we must use 1% of the outstanding student loan balances for qualification purposes.
Our “Doctors Only” Program is also available to dentists and veterinarians!
What States Do You Lend Physician Mortgages In?
Currently, the Doctors Only Program is available in our “footprint” states. These states are Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania. Illinois and Wisconsin will be added to our footprint sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.
What do you like and dislike about working with physicians and particularly with WCI readers?
There is absolutely nothing that I dislike about working with physicians! I love my doctors! The WCI readers are great clients as they come to me already “informed”. In the last few years with social media ablaze, clients tend to be savvier about their finances. Working with a client that is in tune with their finances is helpful for me to assist them in their financial wants/needs/goals. I can more easily “customize” a mortgage option that will best suit them.
What Do You Like and Dislike About Working with Physicians and Particularly with WCI Readers?
The most common mistake is putting too much emphasis on rates/costs. Remember the sayings, “You get what you pay for” and “Too good to be true”? These sayings have a lot of truth behind them. My best advice, which I give daily, is to work with a loan officer you feel comfortable with and someone who has a lot of experience in working with physicians. The loan officer you choose is a key factor in proper communication, ensuring a smoother process, and keeping your sanity.
In What Ways Should Physicians Seeking Mortgages Lower Their Expectations?
I wouldn’t say “lower” expectations. It’s good to have high expectations, as long as they are realistic. Before I start the mortgage process, I set realistic expectations for my clients. This includes timelines, documentation requirements, communication methods and closing requirements.
What Makes You a Physician Specialist When It Comes to Mortgages?
Besides the fact that I can honestly state that 95% or more of my clients are physicians? I’ve been working with physicians for over 19 years and have built long term relationships with not only the physicians themselves, but many major health systems and medical groups as well. My network of physicians grows continuously each year and I can truly say that I don’t have “Banker Hours” – I have “Doctor Hours” – as I am always “on-call” 24/7.
Thank you Sandi Frith of Huntington Bank for your time and support of our mission to “help those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street.”
What do you think? Have you used Huntington Bank for your mortgage? What was your experience like? How long of a term are you using for your mortgage? What questions do you have about the mortgage industry in general and Huntington Bank's “Dr Only” program in particular?
[Editor's Note: Many thanks to Ms. Frith and Huntington Bank for their generous Platinum Level contribution to the WCI Medical School Scholarship! This updated article originally published in 2016]