Olympia Mortgage Broker Tries to Keep the Home Buying Process Fun


When Tim Barlow was 28 years old, he decided to purchase his first home.  “I went to a local bank,” he recalls.  “It wasn’t fun.  It wasn’t easy.  I didn’t get answers.”  Fast forward more than fifteen years and you’ll find Barlow striving to make the process of buying a home more streamlined and easy.  He wants to give his customers answers.  He is willing to do the leg work required to help clients get the best financing available.  As an independent mortgage broker, he wants the home buying experience to be an enjoyable one.

Barlow opened Cornerstone Home Mortgage in 2001.  He made the decision to work for himself rather than a lending institution because he realized that “I couldn’t get them to service customers the way I wanted to.”  It doesn’t matter if people are buying a home, re-financing, or adding a reverse mortgage.  Because he works as a conduit between the buyer and the lender, he is free to shop rates from a myriad of sources and offer alternatives to best meet his clients’ needs.

At work, he is a man in constant motion.  Not content to merely “do” the job, he knows that if he’s not competitive, he won’t get the business.  Barlow is always trying to close the deal.  When he’s not fielding phone calls from clients or his administrative right hand, Sheila, he’s checking e-mails from real estate agents and potential lenders.  He knows if he doesn’t follow through for his clients, the loan won’t happen.

Review and study are part of his regimen.  They have to be.  Ever changing state and federal regulations dealing with home loans demand it.  “You have to adapt, to learn it by the seat of your pants,” he says.  Turmoil in the banking industry also keeps him on his toes. “It’s a tough business from a compliance standpoint,” he admits. “It’s fast paced, and it’s stressful.”

Barlow has to negotiate through a business rife with acronyms.  In addition to conventional home loans, he is well versed with F.H.A., U.S.D.A. and V.A. loan requirements.  (That’s the Federal Housing Administration, United States Department of Agriculture and the Veterans Administration for those who are uninitiated.)

Although Barlow works with clients across the entire state of Washington, from Bellingham to Vancouver and Spokane, his V.A. loan expertise is particularly helpful in this region.  With close proximity to Joint Base Lewis McCord and so many active and retired military in the area, negotiating the unique needs of those clients is one of his specialties.

Barlow has lived in Olympia for most of his life and knows the area well.  He attended McKinley Elementary, Washington Middle School, and Olympia High School.  After attaining his undergraduate degree from Central Washington University, he went on to earn his M.B.A. with an emphasis in managerial leadership from City University in 2000.

After commuting to Seattle daily for a number of years while working for the phone company, Barlow knew he needed a change.  He wanted to stay closer to home and his four children.  That’s when he decided to go into business for himself.   Because he’s independent he can “…do things, make decisions that you have to make to move your business forward.” 

There’s a certain freedom in that.  He is happy to take a day now and then to pursue some fun.  He’s an avid fisherman and enjoys spending time on the water jet skiing and wake boarding.  He also likes to head up into the mountains to snow board.  And then there are his children and, now, grandchildren.  Time spent with them is precious.

But there is fun in keeping his business moving forward, too.  “The decisions lie with me,” he says.  There is always a challenge.  As he explains, “You’ve got to have a high energy level to get through the process.”  He’s doing the work, the reading, the research so that potential home buyers don’t have to negotiate it all on their own.  When they have questions, he has the answers for them.

And when he helps his clients close on their own homes, it’s fun for everyone.

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