MILLBURN, NJ – Jon Lamkin enjoys working for the largest mortgage bank you have never heard of. Guaranteed Rate is the country’s eighth-largest lender, but it is just beginning to make more headway into the Northeast.
“The company has been lending for 12 years, and is headquartered in Chicago,” said Lamkin. “Until now, they have not had much of a presence in the northeast.” Their strategy, he explained, has been to recruit top producers from other lenders. Lamkin himself has been in the mortgage business for twelve years, and has been among the top one percent of mortgage originators for the last four years. He was persuaded by Guaranteed Rate’s business model.
“The technology and the marketing support they give us are completely second to none,” Lamkin said. “Our company does about a billion dollars in originations a month. We are typically able to beat the competition by a quarter or an eighth on their rate more often than not. So it’s great service and low rates.”
The real estate landscape has changed quite a bit in the last couple years. After 12 years, Lamkin has seen the highs and lows of the real estate market. He said that in 2012, his business was approximately 85 percent refinancing and 15 percent home purchases. This year, it is exactly the opposite, he said. Pent up demand has buyers jumping at homes as soon as they hit the market.
One feature of Guaranteed Rate’s technology that Lamkin said realtors and customers have been enjoying is the online application available at his website.
“If someone decides they need a pre-approval at midnight, they can hit the ‘Apply Now’ button 24-7 and we can give them a pre-approval instantly,” Lamkin said. “It also gives the client a free credit report on the spot. The whole thing takes ten or fifteen minutes.”
Once the supporting documents are sent in, Lamkin said Guaranteed Rate can issue a commitment in 48 to 72 hours.
“I have never worked at another company that can turn things around so fast,” he said.
Lamkin said he does not believe in the hard-sell approach. “The reason people like coming to me is that I try to educate and give advice,” he said, noting that in many ways, the individual a customer choses to work with is more important than the institution.
He likes getting to know his clients. Rather than talk about what his company has to offer, he strives to learn more about them.
“I want to review all the options and analyze their buying power so they know exactly what they can afford, rather than going blindly on the internet thinking they know all the steps in the process,” he said. “I like to hold people’s hands and give them the pros and cons of homes at different price points so they can feel good about their decision. I make every client personal.”