Wendy St Julien is a licensed Mortgage Broker and Loan Officer in the Thurston County area. She’s spent 26 years in the business, and is happy to share office space with her mother, Bonnie, who started working with her daughter as a processor about 10 years ago. Their professional relationship worked so well that they decided to open their own business in 2005.
St Julien Home Loans is a family owned business dedicated to helping other families realize their dreams of home ownership. The mother-daughter team recognizes the majority of success they’ve experienced is due to word of mouth. When clients are providing free marketing, you know something is going right. According to Bonnie, they have brokered loans for members of the same families on multiple occasions. “Brothers, sisters, grandfathers, parents, grandchildren in a number of different scenarios…” have all passed along the name of the Tumwater mortgage business to their own family members.
Before she started working with her mother, Wendy says her biggest challenge was finding someone to do the processing. “Because I had processed in the past, once (they) found out I knew (how to do the paperwork) I got a lot of stuff handed back to me. I never encountered that with mom. She’s always been very proactive. If there is a problem – let’s research it, let’s fix it! She’s brought that to the table and I feel really lucky.”
Having her mother providing administrative support frees Wendy up to work with real estate agents, financial planners, attorneys, insurance agents and the other professionals needed to help secure home financing. She also loves working with clients.
First time home buyers are Wendy’s favorite. “It’s a lot of fun because they’re so enthusiastic. That part of it is exciting.” But she’s also looking to build a long term business relationship. “A lot of (lenders) I’ve worked with in the past don’t particularly like working with first time home buyers because it’s a lower end price point. In looking at the big picture, you end up working with these people in five years when they move up.” Case in point is a client who, 15 years ago, took out an $80,000 loan to purchase his first house. Over the course of time he “stair-stepped up,” and two years ago, she helped him secure financing for a $500,000 home.
He and others come back and refer their friends and family because they know they’ll get a competitive rate. The St Juliens set a ceiling on the commission they’re willing to charge on loans. When they’ve looked at bringing additional loan officers into their business, applicants wanted to charge more than that ceiling, and Wendy and Bonnie decided to draw the line. “It’s because our name was tied to it. We didn’t want people being overcharged,” explains Wendy. “Three percent as a maximum is a very fair rate. But when you start getting above that…,” she shakes her head. She goes on to explain their unwritten motto that it’s great to make a living, but you don’t have to do it at the expense of another person.
“(If you’re charging) five and six percent and you’re looking at a $200,000 loan, and somebody is making $12,000 for pushing paper? That doesn’t make sense. You’re stealing people’s equity,” says Wendy.
Bonnie continues, “That’s the bottom line – you’re hurting the customers. Our thing is, we want the customers to come back, and you can’t do it if you’re cheating them.” Finishing her mother’s thought, Wendy chimes in, “Even if you don’t realize today that you were taken advantage of, if you realize in the future that you were – word will get out.”
Fairness brings clients back as does the tenacity of the people trying to secure the loans. Wendy and Bonnie don’t like hearing the word “no” from lenders. One time Wendy involved the Army Corps of Engineers to get a piece of property re-zoned so that a loan could go through. Another incident involved a call to Senator Patty Murray’s office in Washington D.C. That call resulted in a V.A. loan approval. “I just picked up the phone and started calling people,” says Wendy with a laugh.
It’s all about getting the job done for their clients. The St Juliens know that if you treat them well they’ll come back. And in the meantime, they’re likely to spread the word about your business.
St Julien Home Loans
6140 Capitol Blvd. SE, Suite D
Tumwater, WA 98501