When it comes to buying a house, misinformation and confusion are everywhere, says Chris Johns, a Mortgage Consultant with On Q Financial in Olympia. “People often think that they can’t afford a home because they don’t have a down payment saved or they just simply don’t know what their mortgage payment would be,” he says. “Most of the home buyers interested in purchasing just do not have the correct information that they need to take the first step.”
“Let’s say you are looking at a $200,000 home,” continues Johns. “What loan program is best for you and why? Should you go FHA, Conventional, or USDA? How do the payments and terms differ with each program? These are questions that take me about 15-20 minutes to explain if I can get a chance to sit down with people. Often we find home buyers that sit on the fence forever because they don’t know who to talk with or who to trust.”
Johns wants to solve that problem through education and coaching. “I like to take complicated concepts and break them down for people,” he says. “There’s so much anxiety and bad information out there. Home buyers often have their co-workers, Dad, and neighbor all giving them different advice at the same time and they get overwhelmed.”
Besides providing knowledge and tools needed to purchase a home, Johns is also very excited to talk with folks about refinancing to a 15-year loan. “Believe it or not, there’s still a significant conversation happening around these 15-year loans,” he says. “It’s really worth looking at. I would like to volunteer myself and invite people to do a mortgage check-up with me to find out if a 15-year loan is right for them. The idea of true home ownership is possible within 15 years for a lot of people. In fact, my wife Annie and I just closed on a 15-year refinance on our own home last month. It makes too much sense with these low rates not to.”
It undoubtedly helps that Johns spent six years in real estate as a licensed broker in the Olympia area. “I can relate very well, not only to the sales aspect that real estate agents deal with, but the emotional aspects that come up with buying and selling,” he says. “I have a very good working knowledge of the real estate contract forms and paperwork involved in closing a deal.”
Prior to joining On Q Financial in 2014, Johns was a Mortgage Consultant for Umpqua Bank in Thurston County. He’s been a loan officer since 2004. He truly appreciates many of the aspects of On Q Financial, including its size, flexibility, and emphasis on technology.
“As a national mortgage company, On Q Financial is small enough to be nimble and roll with the punches as opposed to many of the larger banks,” he says. “It often takes me 15 minutes to get answers from my underwriting, marketing, or compliance teams as opposed to several days. On a national level, our company closes about 700-800 loans a month. We’re big enough to provide as good a rate as anybody but small enough to know underwriters personally, to be able to speak openly, and to get loans started quicker.” That means they can address service issues that real estate agents get frustrated with, he says, and create a comparatively quick mortgage process.
Clients like Sam Thomassen appreciate such efficiency. “My wife and I used Chris for the purchase of our new home in March, 2015,” he says. “Chris provided a helpful timeline for the process, assisted us in collecting the proper documentation for underwriting, and best of all, we were all set to close on the house within 20 days from our application. Thanks to Chris we had the option to close on the house early and get a jump start on moving in!”
Flexibility also means that On Q is well-positioned to deal with the changes brought about by TRID, aka the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure that went into effect on October 3, 2015. Never heard of it? You’re not alone. In a nutshell, in November 2013, the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau integrated two acts: the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The result is new paperwork requirements for real estate transactions, including waiting periods that previously didn’t exist. “Before, you could show up at escrow and sign a settlement statement at closing, which is a breakdown of all the fees,” says Johns. “Now a home buyer will need this Closing Disclosure in-hand three days before loan documents can even be printed and delivered to escrow. At On Q Financial, our specialty is to be able to adapt to these kinds of changes.”
He also appreciates the company’s embrace of current technology. “We are on the cutting edge in terms of integrating some of the technology advances,” he says. “We have an incredibly strong platform to cater to the millennial population, that 25- to 35-year-old demographic, with things like electronically signed loan documents. Having younger, tech-minded upper management, we’ve been able to keep up and stay very relevant in the mortgage industry.”
As a result of working with so many tech-savvy home buyers, he says, “I end up texting a lot of my clients. I’ve had one to two hour-long text conversations in the evenings before and it always shows my clients how much I care about them. Some home buyers don’t want to text at all, and other demographics don’t like to pick up the phone.” Being able to provide status updates by text message helps to speed up the process. “We have industry-leading turnaround times for processing and underwriting and we have great people and systems in place to make that happen.”
Jake Owens was one client who benefitted from the emphasis on communication. “Chris was constantly in contact with both my wife and I, either through email, text, or call,” says Owens. “He never left us guessing what was going on. Even during times of lull during the process, he was still contacting us, asking if we had questions or if we were in need of anything.” Owens has since recommended Johns to several of his friends and family members.
That should make Johns happy. His goal, he says, is to replace the multiple sources of dubious advice with one reliable resource. “The thing I’m most passionate about is educating my clients.”
For more information about Chris Johns and On Q Financial, visit www.chrisjohns.onqolympia.com or call (360) 347-8000.