Greg Bridgman says the mortgage lending industry has become so fraught with restrictions that he also advises his clients to have plenty of patience. The part-time preacher who has been earning a living as mortgage consultant tries to lighten the mood by telling his clients “we’re going to do everything but draw blood. But when we’re finished, you’ll feel like we drew it all.”
He recently invited business writer Will Buss to his office to talk about his experience in the home loan industry:
How long have you been working in mortgage lending and consulting?
“I’ve been in home loans since July 13, 1992. There has been a vast change in this business from hand writing a loan application, handing it to a processor and then just going to closing. It was very simple and easy process many years ago. The world has radically changed since about 2007 and now we live in a post-foreclosure world, which means due to Fannie Mae being so lenient in the early 2000s doing home loans, they went through so many foreclosures that now they are overly protective. So the pendulum has swung the opposite direction.”
How has the business changed?
“As a result of that, most customers are shocked at the amount of documentation that has to take place. So whereas my world used to be take a loan application, order an appraisal and get their title commitment ordered, if it’s a refinance, and then prepare them for closing. Now, I can’t even talk to the appraiser for fear of it being some fraudulent activity and I’m not allowed to know who the appraiser is until the appraisal is returned back to my processor. So I am very much left out of the process. My job now is more as a consultant to analyze each individual situation and find out what their job situation is because we’ve had a lot of job instability. I try to pinpoint a work history, sold income, make sure they have sufficient assets for a loan closing and then try to explain to them please do not buy anything, do not move your money around, do not change jobs during this process. People don’t realize that even when they make a small deposit into the bank, we have to document where that came from. So people are shocked that I am asking so many questions and that I’m asking for so much documentation.”
What is your background?
“I was actually a pastor in Fairview Heights for several years. I came there as a pastor and when I stepped down from that, I didn’t want to leave the area. I had a neighbor who was the manager of Northwest Mortgage in Swansea and I went to work for him. It’s now Wells Fargo. That’s where I started my career.”
Why did you make that career move?
“I was a preaching pastor of larger churches. I am from the St. Louis area and had my father who passed away suddenly of a heart attack at 52 years of age and a widowed mother who was poor, and I needed a job that paid better. I needed to support two families. My neighbor said, ‘I have a job for you’ and without any educational background, God just blessed me and I learned the career field out of necessity. I still preach at churches on weekends. Right now, I preach at a church in Festus, Mo. on Sundays on top of doing this. I love being on call seven days a week at two different jobs.”
How has your background as a pastor influenced you as mortgage consultant?
“Part of it is transferable skills. Part of it is if people really money and use people or whether you love people and use money and have a passion to care about people. I always needed to care about people and help people. When people are looking for a home loan, it’s not like going to the grocery store and squeezing the bread and checking the date on the milk. They don’t do this every week. Since this post-foreclosure world, it is so much more daunting. Even my repeat customers say you didn’t use to ask for this much documentation. So part of my skills are trying educate so people who go through this process without feeling like they’ve been to the Twilight Zone. So those are transferable skills, communication, telling the truth and helping them walk through this process without being overly fearful. There is usually a 20- to 30-day process for most customers to do a home loan. Sometimes there are grant programs that can take up to 45 days. This can be a very long period of their life that can seem like it’s forever. So the key is communicating verbally and through emails on regular basis to tell them this is where your loan is so you don’t have to worry.”