These last 15 years of business in Whatcom County, our Community, and Mortgage Industry as a whole can be summed up in a few choice words: Adversity, hurdles, growth, consolidating, opportunity, and persistence.
When Bill Havland founded Neighborhood Mortgage in October 2004 around the kitchen table, he was just 26 years old with a staff of three. Within just 24 months, the business grew to have 29 Loan Officers, 6 support staff members, and 2 new branch locations.
“We grew so fast that we actually had to dial things back to a more personal, comfortable size,” Bill says, “Because we aren’t in this to be the biggest or the richest. We just want to keep doing a job that we’re proud of and that we’ve given our all to.”
Building A Family
Over the years, people come and go. That’s business and the evolution of building a Team that you’d like to retire with. It took time, trial and error, patience and persistence, but the end result is the highly cohesive team we are today.
“Bill and the team are so flexible and understanding,” says Lisa Kennedy, Licensed Mortgage Advisor, “It’s not just a place to work. It is a family I can count on.”
“This is my family away from my family,” Bill says, “I hope to retire with this group.”
Amidst all the ups and downs, the one thing that remains the same is how we approach business from a moral accountability standpoint. For us, it is all about finding that balance between professionalism and empathy — for our clients, ourselves, and each other.
Accountability is a word that is synonymous with our day-to-day work environment. We are accountable to our clients, Realtors, each other, and those we work alongside. As technology and speed drive the current market, our focus remains on doing business the way we’ve always done — with patience, compassion, determination, and humility.
The Effects of the Mortgage Meltdown
When Neighborhood Mortgage opened its doors in 2004, there were 23 independent Mortgage Brokers in Whatcom County. Today, Neighborhood Mortgage stands alone, as the only independently owned and operated Mortgage Banker/Broker in Bellingham.
The industry has evolved in many ways, and compliance and oversight are FAR greater than it’s ever been. As a result, many shops didn’t have the resources or time to focus on what it would take to “stay” in an ever-changing industry. Many loan officers exited the industry, leaving only the dedicated Professionals that still serve our Community today.
As a broker, we have been able to help many homeowners with a variety of programs and options that Banks and Credit Unions were not able to offer customers.
Labor of Love
We are a team that truly loves what we do, from start to finish. For Brandi Braley, Mortgage Advisor and Reverse Mortgage Specialist, her favorite moment is seeing someone’s eyes light up and the excitement on their faces when she tells them they are approved.
For Bill, educating is where the magic begins. If you come into the office, he uses his whiteboard as a visual teaching tool. By educating a client so that they know exactly what to expect, it builds a relationship based on trust and transparency. “I want to help you achieve your goals,” he says, “but I also want to build a meaningful relationship in the process.”
Identifying The Best Options & Clearing Misconceptions
While many lenders decide what is best for customers, Sally likes to provide options so that the customer can be part of the process and decide what is best for their long-term financial goals. As Sally states, “Lowest rates are not always what is best for the client. You need to take the time to do the numbers for there might be something that will work better for the client.”
One thing Anny says is, “There always seemed to be a big misconception that if you get your money from the bank where you hold it then you’ll have an easier time, but this just isn’t the case. To be able to fill the gap between a mortgage broker, who can lend through most all banks wholesale, and being the actual banker has been a rare blessing for our clients. It’s been such an honor and gift to have been a part of this over the past 15years. I love how nobody is treated like a number and it all comes down to relationships and family within Neighborhood Mortgage.”
The Learning Never Stops
In the end, we can only strive to be better each day than we were the day before, and adapting this principle is the biggest reason why we are still around. We feel blessed to be here and all hope to retire together.
Here’s to another 15 years and beyond!