I do not view myself as a salesman. I think the secret to “selling” a loan or anything else for that matter is simpler more honest than many may think. If I do nothing more than push an interest rate, then “I” am not selling anything; only the rate is. Too often many of us are conditioned to chase low-interest rates simply because the perceived wisdom tells us to. In fact, there is no “one size fits all” loan program, rate or fee structure. Realizing this, helps us better serve our VA loan clients, helps our veteran clients make more sound decisions, and establishes a relationship of trust between the veteran and their loan officer.
I can see how reading this title at first might lead one to think this post was meant for people who work with or for me. I share this here to give my veterans an insight into my personal philosophy and how when it comes to giving a veteran the best deal and best service I can, our interests are more closely aligned than one might think.
7 steps to take on every VA loan.
1. Get the data and identify the veteran. This information gives a context to a veteran’s motivation for investigating a loan. Sometimes a veteran is unaware of the best option or, in some cases, convinced an alternate option is better than what you suggest. This helps frame basis of your advice. Questions might include: How much debt do you have, how much do you owe on the home, what is your payment.
2. Find out the veterans goals – This can be open-ended: What are your intentions with a potential VA refinance? Or pointed requiring a yes or no answer:
· “Are you looking to free up money to pay down other debts?”
· “Are you looking to free up money to supplement your income?”
· “Are you looking to pay the home off faster?
3. Check the time – “What is the minimum amount of time that you are sure you will own the home?” This question provides scope to the mortgage options you present.
4. Run the numbers & create a plan – At its most essential, a refinance is an investment. You agree to pay/add a certain amount of closing costs in exchange for incremental savings over time. When the cumulative amount you have saved has equaled the costs of the refinance, you have achieved the “breakeven point” in the loan. From this point forward any savings experienced are now “true” savings. The optimum quote will be one where the loan program, rate and fee combination saves the veteran the maximum amount of money between the “breakeven point” and the end of the length of time they were sure they would own for.
5. Identify the risk – By determining the potential risk, advantages and drawbacks of the various options available you alleviate unknowns. Unknowns create uncertainty, and uncertainty prevents good decision making. A fixed rate loan is often thought to be the safest loan available, but not necessarily for someone who has a large amount of higher interest rate credit debt. By taking a VA Hybrid ARM, the veteran might save significantly more. Since credit cards calculate the interest rates on the ending monthly balance, the faster one pays off credit card debt, the more money they free up each month. I have often been able to show veterans how paying off credit card debt faster can free up enough money to offset the maximum “worst case” rate/payment they could ever reach on the loan.
6. Clarify details and explain the options – encourage the veteran to ask questions. It is often the case that veterans object to the Hybrid ARM simply because it is an ARM. To disregard all ARM loans simply because of the ARMs with unfavorable terms that have hurt many homeowners is like refusing to ever drive a car simply because Toyotas are currently being recalled.
7. “You sell ME.” – If a loan officer has completed the preceding steps perfectly, then a sale is no longer the issue. Once you have devised a plan that best meets their goals, mitigates their fears and ultimately saves them the most money, you are talking about common sense. Though I don’t directly ask this of my veterans, my philosophy is “you sell ME as to why you shouldn’t do this.” In my experience, following these steps through with this approach helps the veteran arrive at a clear and meaningful decision.
Veterans have many loan options and there are many lenders and brokers who they could work with and may even be able to offer the same deal you can. Following these simple rules help me to distinguish myself among the choices, and hopefully earn their business.