Did you answer mostly As, Bs, or Cs?

Sunday night my husband and I invited a few neighbors over for some cake and wine. After the obligatory chatter about how good the cake was (thanks bakery down the street!), the topic of conversation turned to mortgages. I’m not even kidding. See, my new house is situated in a new community that is still under construction, so barring that nobody flat out paid cash for their house (and if they did, I need to invite them over for cake more), all of my neighbors have recently secured a mortgage. I promise I didn’t bring the conversation up, and I didn’t even prompt them, but do you know what they were saying? I’ll tell you – they were complaining about the Big Box Bank and the crappy service they received. If my blog were a portable device that you could actually clasp in your hand, I would have thrown it in their faces and been all “Woo HA HA HA! Should have been reading my mortgage blog, suckas!”

So that you do not have to become one of my poor neighbors that didn’t close their loans on time and were led astray by the Big Box Bank, I have prepared some help for you. To help save you all the headache of one day deciding on where to secure a mortgage, I present to you a Glamour Magazine style quiz!

[Please note that even though I am writing a Glamour Magazine quiz, I am very angry with Glamour Magazine right now for putting 12-year-old old boys on the cover of August. Seriously, dudes didn’t even have chest hair and I felt dirty reading it.]

What mortgage bank should you use if you need a home loan? A Simple Quiz

1. You’re walking down the street when a pigeon poops on your left ear. You:

a. Chase after that bird and shoot him with your handmade bow and arrow and feed him to your family for dinner.

b. Look around to see if anyone noticed and then run into the nearest store to use their restroom to clean yourself up and possibly text your BFF to share the experience.

c. Shout out loud in the street that you are so happy to have been crapped on.

2. When ready to check out at the grocery store, you:

a. This question is difficult for you to answer because you grow all of your food in your back forty and don’t even know where the closest grocery store is.

b. Find the shortest line or proceed to self checkout.

c. Stand behind a lady with a three-ringed binder full of coupons who will be paying by check that she won’t start filling out until the cashier has given her the total. Actually, the lady hasn’t even pulled the checkbook out of her purse. Instead, she will raise her eyebrows in shock and ask to speak to the manager when her total does not come to zero. This does not bother you. You wait for four hours in line.

3. You are planning a romantic weekend away with that special someone. You:

a. Begin by replacing the horses’ shoes and securing a new hide to the top of your wagon in preparation for the long journey ahead. You will not pack “snacks for the road” as you will kill your own vittles throughout the journey.

b. Check out the hotel online and read the reviews.

c. Decide that you can “find a motel once we’re on the road” and leave your map at home. After seven hours of searching for a spot with vacancies, you convince your lover that sleeping in a truck stop parking lot on the side of Interstate 10 is “romantic.” (Your lover leaves you the next day. You are okay with this.)

You answered:

Mostly As – Transistor Radio Man

You like to keep things old school. The janky mortgage broker you find through clicking a blinking “Zero Percent Interest Rates with No Credit Score!” on the side of your Myspace page is the one for you. It won’t bother you that your mortgage broker works from his mom’s basement and makes you fill out your application in a number 2 pencil. You call that “simply charming!”

Mostly Bs – The Normal Human Being

You are a normal person, ready to tackle the world. You like things done well, in a timely manner by intelligent people. You are a perfect candidate for getting a home loan with the Memorial/Heights Branch of Envoy Mortgage.

Mostly Cs – The Masochist

Pain is the name of your game. The harder life is for you, the better. And if most of it is spent waiting, that’s fine, too. You’ll love the Big Box Banks and relish in the fact that they don’t give a toot about you and never close loans on time.

Alright folks, tune in later this week for some office gossip. Will Recycling Nikki garbage dive again? Will Former Online Dater Jason find true love and shout “Boom!”? Will John find the bathroom floor-peeing culprit? Will Straight-Shooter Shane stop drinking Dr. Pepper? Will Hayley thwart another robbery? Has Will learned his lesson about asking non-pregnant women if they’re pregnant? Will you get to hear about my co-worker Sandra once performing surgery on a man’s nipple? (True story.) Find out later this week. Happy Tuesday, readers.

Are Interest Rates Through the Roof and Are We All Going to Die?

My Boss Chad thinks he’s the man now. He brought breakfast to this realty group and gave a lesson on lending and mortgages and a bunch of other super boring stuff. The realty group wrote a blog about his visit, complete with a fancy picture, and so now Chad thinks he’s totally famous since he’s highlighted on two blogs. I checked out their website and have noted two interesting facts: 1. You must be insanely beautiful to work there. 2. The insanely beautiful workers have a really cool workspace with big windows and eco reclaimed furniture. I’d be more beautiful if I had furniture like that. I bet they all drink green tea and shop at farmers markets; I just bet you.

Did I mention I still have ants on my desk? And that it’s not even really my desk, just a random open one I’m squatting in until they give it to someone else?

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Hey, cool realty company, call me [insert knowing wink here]. I can come make myself useless at your office anytime you like, just like I do at this one.

Speaking of real estate and whatnot, I know y’all don’t come here to read about what you could just find out on CNN (ha! like anybody watches CNN), but hang with me for just a few paragraphs so that you can impress people this weekend.

If you’re like me, you’ve been seeing news stories and headlines saying mortgage interest rates are up. And if you’re like me, you don’t click on those stupid links, and instead click on the link that shows how two movie stars wore the same dress. So instead of clicking on the stupid links, I caught V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will in the middle of his chicken break he takes every day, and I asked him what’s really going on.

Are Interest Rates Through the Roof and are We All Going to Die?

An interview with V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will Zugheri

Just the Assistant: Listen Will, are interest rates really up?

V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will: Yes.

JTA: Are they crazy high now? Like should people be jumping from buildings?

V-Shaped Will: Not at all. I’d say they were still crazy low actually. Put it this way. I bought my first house in nineteen ninety, ninety, uh –  oh gosh when did I get married?

[Just the Assistant Note: At this point, Will totally forgot his anniversary and pulled out his calculator to calculate when he got married. I’m not making that up.]

1991! Got married in 1991 and bought my first house in 1991 and the interest rate was somewhere around 9%. Anyway, I remember my parents were really excited for me that I was getting a mortgage in the single digits. To put it in perspective, rates today, though they’re higher than they were three months ago, are still roughly half of that rate I got back then.

JTA: Do you think they’ll continue to rise?

V-Shaped Will: Good question. I think there’s a better chance of them rising than decreasing.

JTA: Should people try to buy a house soon then?

[JTA Note: This next part is why Will is awesome…]

V-Shaped Will: If someone is house hunting and close to making a decision, now would be a pretty good time to do that, for sure. I think it’d be financially prudent to do that. But I think what’s more important is finding the right house. You know, if you rush into this because you think the rates will go up next week, but then two weeks later you drive by the house you want at night and it’s not what you thought, you won’t be happy. Just find the right house.

JTA: Ah, good advice, Will. That’ll be good for the blog because it’ll show everybody you’re honest. I also want to show everybody how you eat chicken every single day. Then everybody will be all, “Hey, I eat chicken too! Mortgage bankers aren’t all that different after all!”

Will Eating Chicken

Mortgage Bankers: They’re Just Like Us!

Alright folks, you get back to reading something more interesting than a mortgage blog on the Internet, and I’m off to apply insect repellant to my ant bites and pull some folks off the window ledges and tell them we’re fine. We’re just fine.

Lies Banks Tell (And a Bird Update)

The Health Department called. The birds outside our office died from ant poison that had been sprinkled on the grass. Funeral service details will be announced later this week.

Now then, listen up…

It’s not uncommon for folks to call our office and ask us to look over a quote they’ve received from a Poopy Big Box Bank or a Janky Pinstriped Suit Lender (well, they don’t ask me, but you know what I mean). Basically, the borrower wants to know if we can beat the other guys’ prices. But here’s an interesting twist. Guess how many times those other quotes have bold face lies splashed across them? Boo coos of times, I tell you, boo coos.

Last week one of Hottest Mortgage Banker in Texas Hayley’s borrowers called her because she’d gotten a quote from a Poopy Big Box Bank. This other quote was in the form of an Excel spreadsheet (fancy, huh?), and contained a fabulously low interest rate, some blatant miscalculations, and a few bold faced lies.

Here’s how that bank lied through their crooked teeth. The borrower, a nice lady looking to buy her first home, planned to put less than 20% down on her house (totally a normal thing to do). Now in this borrower’s case, she absolutely had to obtain mortgage insurance (MI). Anytime any of us gets a loan and we put down less than 20% (unless we’re doing a 2nd loan, which this lady was not), MI is mandatory. But you know what that janky lender left off the quote? The monthly mortgage insurance fee, which amounts to probably over a hundred dollars a month for this lady. It’s not that she wasn’t going to have to pay it, rather the lender didn’t include it on the quote in efforts to make it look like the borrower’s total monthly payment would be way low.

Then the lender included lots of pretty blank spots for title fees and the escrow account, making that monthly payment look lower by the minute.

I asked Hayley about it. She said,

“Their quote looked great since they didn’t list title fees, an escrow account or mortgage insurance. But when I quote someone I am going to list every single fee the borrower is going to have to pay, and I’m going to overestimate some of the ones that we haven’t nailed down yet, because I’d rather have the conversation of ‘Looks like you don’t have to bring as much money to closing as we thought’ than telling someone they actually need twenty thousand dollars more to buy this house.”

[Note: when I say “fees” I’m talking about third-party fees that you’ll have to pay on any loan – fees that the title company or mortgage insurance company are charging, not Envoy.]

I’d planned on pasting the quote here on the blog so you could all see the atrocities, but honestly, I didn’t understand the thing. And that leads me to my lesson. Y’all, I’ve worked in this industry a total of six years now (if I include the mortgage banker I worked for in college who had me pick up her vicious poodle from the groomers once a month), and I honestly still don’t know how to intelligently read quotes. I will openly admit that most of my readers are way smarter than me, but it’s still possible that the average person cannot fully dissect some of these wack lenders’ quotes. And that’s why you need to either a) just get a quote from someone reputable in the first place (like these people) or b) take the janky quote to someone reputable (same people as above), and ask them to go over it with you.

Okay, sorry for the rant today. I just care about y’all (really, I do) and I hate to see folks getting tricked.

Now, off to collect shoe boxes to bury all those dead birds.

Birds, Dog, a Horse, and My Co-workers

I may have caused a bit of a mini-panic to settle itself on my Houston readers concerning the dead birds falling from the trees outside our office. Y’all are so touchy, I swear. Listen, at this point, nobody in the office is running a fever, and our front desk receptionist, Christi, even exercised for the first time in her life yesterday (I made her go on a walk with me and you would have thought it was the SEALs training),  thus proving that all our lung capacities are still optimally running.

Here’s what’s happened since Thursday. The Humane Society finally showed up and took “samples” (dead birds) with them to run some tests. After they left, birds kept on dropping, and Juan, our awesome building maintenance man, had to run out and scoop them up as they fell. But then Juan had to go run an errand, and for two hours the birds piled up. Otis watched nervously from his post inside the building and directed visitors around the “samples.”

Meanwhile, until Otis hears back from the Humane Society, he’s busy trying to find out what’s up by frantically searching the Internet, which worries me because I don’t want Homeland Security tracking his searches and thinking he’s a lunatic. Hey Homeland – Otis is a really great guy! I swear!

Enough of the bird debacle. This week I’m working on writing bios for the team for some website we’re going to have (why this website isn’t enough for us, I do not know). I’ve been pulling the mortgage bankers into a conference room and asking them all their hopes and dreams. Here are the highlights:

  • When I asked Richard about his dog, he abruptly got up to go fetch his phone to show me pictures. On his way back to the conference room from his desk (like, four feet away) he was so engrossed in the dog pictures that he passed the conference room and walked into some random office. I was like, “Richard! Hey Richard I’m in here!” Dude loves his dog. He also loves everything else about life and I’m having a hard time coming up with a snarky nickname for him. More on that later.
  • When I sent Straight Shooter Shane the rough draft of his bio, which included the phrase “frat house” because he used to be in a creepy fraternity, he actually wrote back: It’s never a “frat house” always a fraternity lodge or house…. Otherwise, I love it! That’s so weird. It’s just so weird. What is a “lodge” anyway? Lodge. It sounds like throat lozenge. I asked him if he still wears his letterman’s jacket, and he frowned and gave me some lip about not having a class ring. And he still won’t show me the secret frat house (d’ya hear that!?) handshake. Also, I have changed his name to Straight Shooter Shane because the guy totally tells clients what’s up. Not a coddler, that Shane.
  • V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will, forgetting it was an interview for a professional bio, ended up telling me some horrible story about a horse getting killed (he didn’t kill it). Y’all, come on. I’m trying to bring you business here. Don’t go telling me about the night an axe murderer broke into your house.
  • In Just So John‘s interview, he told me about a loan he did for a transgendered person, and Just So John had to file all this paperwork to prove that his client was one person and not two people since the guy/girl’s W-2s from one year said Bill and the next year said Veronica. And you thought you had a tricky loan?

Oh, and by the way, apparently nobody listened to me last week when I said to get a loan somewhere else, because our business is exploding this week. Two borrowers in the past hour have called Online Dater Mortgage Banker Jason asking for loans, and I know this because he’s all, “BOOM!” and singing and giving people high fives. (Dude loves mortgages.) Then he made a big sandwich to celebrate.

That must've been one big loan...

That must’ve been one big loan…

Alright folks, I promise I’ll let you know as soon as we hear from the Humane Society. While you all be on the lookout for falling parakeets, I’m off to edit these bios and try to make this group of people with whom I work appear fairly normal. Wish me luck.

A Secret Handshake, Scientology, and a New Guy

So there’s this new guy working here named Shane. Shane is a mortgage banker. He’s also a bit ornery but for some reason I like him anyway. He used to work for a crazy boss who was BFFs with John Travolta, too. Y’all just need to read on…

The Church of Mortgageology

An Interview with Sassy Mortgage Banker, Shane Davis

Just the Assistant: First things first, why do you think you can sass me?

[Note: Shane sassed me a couple of weeks ago and I threatened to write a whole blog post about his attitude.]

Shane (obviously not hearing my question): Did you see I put up some new pictures of my kid on Facebook?

[He had actually emailed me a few hours earlier to tell me he put new pictures up of his son. I’m not making this up.]

Just the Assistant: Mm hmm. So cute. Now listen, how long have you been in this business?

SD: Since 2006. I started working in Dallas at this company that was straight off of Boiler Room. The owner of the company would go to these big marketing conferences that were all hosted by Scientology – he was a Scientologist – and then he’d come back and change things at the company.

[Note: You should totally see Boiler Room.]

JTA: Wait a minute. Scientology? Did Tom Cruise work there, too?

SD: No, but my boss was friends with him, and one time after one of those conferences, John Travolta flew my boss back to Dallas on his private jet.

JTA: Shut UP!  Wait a minute. What kind of place was this? Are you nuts?

SD: It was crazy. I was only there a year. Sometimes if my boss was having a bad day, he’d just fire people.

JTA: That won’t happen here. The ole Bosses are typically pretty level-headed. Except for this one time I forgot to order lunch for an event and James went bananas on me. And I’ve never heard them mention Tom Cruise when discussing their weekend plans. Did you go to college?

SD: Yeah I went to Texas Tech and got a degree in  marketing and management.

JTA (immediately cautious of a power struggle like Dwight on “The Office”): Wait a minute. Management? Are you trying to get James’ job? Oh no, you aren’t like Dwight are you?

SD: I had James’ job at my former company.

JTA: You were a manager? Oh my gosh, this can’t be good. I’ve got to warn James. Why did you come here if you were the manager?

SD: My former company took 40 days for underwriters to approve loans.

JTA: I don’t know what that means. How long does it take Envoy?

SD: 48 hours.

Sassy Shane

JTA: Oh, well that’s quite good. Do you like it here? I mean, why else did you come to work here?

SD: Gobe was the reason. I trust her. She’s been telling me to come on board for a while. James looked like an honest guy as well. You can tell when someone is sincere or is just telling you what you want to hear. I like the fact that it’s extremely hard to impress me…and I was impressed with the systems in place and the knowledge. What I can tell already, is Envoy is three steps ahead of everyone else…I know because I’ve worked at and know people who are at “everyone else.”

JTA: Oh yes, I forgot you are friends with Gobe [another of our famous mortgage bankers]. How do you know her?

SD: Her husband and I were pledge brothers. I was in their wedding.

JTA: Pledge brothers? That’s so weird. Do y’all have a secret handshake?

SD: Yep.

JTA: Well? What is it? Show me the shake.

SD: Nope.

JTA: That is so weird. That is just so weird. Do your clients know about this? And speaking of clients, I know you get a lot of repeat business. Why do folks come back to you?

SD: I do what I say I’m going to do. Even if it’s hard, I get the job done. And I don’t tell people what they want to hear. I tell them the truth.

JTA: You’re doing an interesting loan right now for a client. What is it?

SD: It’s a loan for people who want to buy or refinance a home and tie in some funds for home repairs or remodeling into the mortgage. It’s not for anything structural like adding on a room, but for remodeling a kitchen or putting down new floors, it’s perfect. It’s called a 203K…

[He told me all the details, but I lost interest. If you want to know more, he’s happy to give you the whole scoop – Sdavis@envoymortgage.com]

JTA: That’s cool. Do you do normal loans too?

SD: I do everything.

JTA: What does your wife think about how sassy you are?

SD: She’s worse than me!

JTA: Oh my gosh, y’all are like a match made in Heaven. Are y’all the people who take one picture of your child every day of his life so you can have some flipbook thing at his high school graduation party?

SD: No. I just put pictures up on Facebook because our families live out of town.

JTA: Okay, I’ll give you that. I totally get it because my mom is all the time, “How’s Cowboy?” and I’m like, oh yeah I need to put up some more pictures of my dog. Alright Shane, thanks for your time. Now go answer all those phone calls!

Sassy Shane on the Phone

If you’d like to get sassed by Shane or view the Facebook album of his son’s whole life, you can find Shane’s info on my fancy Who’s Who page. And while you do that, I’m off to contact his old boss about hooking me up to meet Suri Cruise so she can help me go viral.

Office News and a Kindle Fire Winner

  • We all strolled in the office today to find this:

small desk

  • Nobody has owned up to it, but I think it’s one of the new folks’ attempts at making our office appear antiquey. Or else the Bosses have hired someone else we’ve yet to meet who is on the smallish side.
  • I’m sitting with Hayley in her cube today. This girl’s a maniac! I feel like I’m sitting in a call center. Except Hayley doesn’t have an accent. And she’s explaining home loans to people and not answering questions about internet service.
  • Hipster Andie the Loan Coordinator has started baking cake balls for the mortgage bankers to bring to loan closings. They wrap up these cake balls in decorative boxes and present them to the borrower and borrower’s realtor, and now realtors across Houston are trying to score deals with us:
Cake Balls

You don’t get this many though. You get like four.

  • I close on my house next week. I locked in a wicked low interest rate (and not because I work here – they don’t even give me a desk) because I went with an adjustable rate. Here’s why. I reckon I’ll live in the house I’m buying for around 8 years. If I planned on staying there for the rest of my life, I would have secured a 30-year fixed. But this Just the Assistant is super smart, and since I plan to move or head west or build a new house or start living on the streets when I’m forty, I locked in a 7-year ARM. You can read what that is here.
  • James instituted a new office rule: For one hour each morning one lucky person in the office gets to choose the radio station we will listen to, loudly. They even wrote up a rotation and hung it on the fridge. Please note that I am not on the rotation. Please also note that I am going to vandalize the list later today.
  • DJs
  • Everybody is mad at this one service provider with whom we work (I can’t write who it is because they’ll fire me). All my co-workers are eating cupcakes to compensate for the anger. Rachelle claims she is hangry: hungry and angry.
  • V-Shaped Mortgage Banker Will got jealous that Online dater Jason won a prize last week and went off and won a prize of his own. It started when he took his family on a cruise, a Disney cruise. On this Disney cruise Will won a plaque that reads, “Beverage Family of the Week.” He’s been quite vague about how he won the award, but I’m thinking it has to do with heavy drinking. On a cruise. A Disney cruise. We’re all so proud of Will and his accomplishments. Will said, “With 3000 kids on a boat, you tend to drink.”
  • Booze Cruise
  • We drew a winner for the Kindle Fire HD. Hayley looks the most like Vanna White (in her prime) so I had her draw the winner:
  • Eli Torres
  • Congratulations Eli Torres! If you would like to donate your Kindle Fire HD to my Help Just the Assistant Purchase Bamboo Shades for Her New House Fund, please contact me directly. But if you’d like the stinky ole Kindle Fire, meet Online Dater Jason for coffee sometime soon and he’ll pass along the prize.
  • While I go bribe Eli with some of Andie’s cake balls, you all let me know your availability for helping me move. Please include vehicle type, bicep circumference, and overall fitness level. You may or may not be paid in the form of a child’s desk…

Fuddy C. Duddy

A few months ago I showed up at the office looking like a street dweller. It was the week after I returned from Rwanda and I was still grappling with feelings of guilt over the fact that I own more than one pair of pants and a blow-dryer. Plus I wanted to show off my new African headscarf and handmade beads. So that’s why I rolled in wearing some wrinkled wide-leg pants, an equally wrinkled t-shirt that, in a stroke of fashion genius, was the exact same color as my pants and a grandma sweater that didn’t match anything. Oh, and I hadn’t showered. Then I topped off the ensemble with my African headscarf and beads. And you want to know the first thing Hipster Andie the Loan Coordinator said to me when I came in? “You look SO cute.”

“I look like a homeless person,” I replied. (Note –yes, we all know a homeless person or two and I’m being all stereotypical, but come on y’all.)

“No, you look really cute,” Andie said. Mental note: If Andie ever compliments my attire again, go home and change.

Fast forward to yesterday. As soon as I entered the office I noticed Andie looked totally pulled together. She had on dress slacks, high heels and a cute sweater and scarf set that said, “I am a grownup. I work in a mortgage office with professionals.”

“Andie, you look so nice today!” I chimed, getting ready to ask where she bought her shoes.

“Ugh! It’s laundry day,” she scowled, glancing over her outfit and walking away. It was as if some old fuddy duddy had doted on her top as she left for an ugly Christmas sweater party. Andie’s mental note: If Just the Assistant likes my outfit, store that bad boy in the back of my closet and save it for when I’m seventy and need something to wear to bridge.

Speaking of Hipster Andie the Loan Coordinator, I have a handy mortgage tip for you. See, part of Andie’s job is making sure loan applications are filled out completely. But, you don’t want to go overboard here. Here’s the thing. The way in which you type your name on the loan application is the way in which you will have to sign your name at closing on dozens of documents. I learned this the hard way when I filled out the app for my first mortgage and printed my full name, first, middle and last. Come closing, I wished I’d just used my middle initial instead. There. That’s it. Are you in shock at the wealth of mortgage advice you get here, or what?

Next week I’ll draw the winner of the Kindle Fire HD. Read about that here. I think like seven people have entered thus far, for those of you keeping score.

Oh, and for those of you who went all nuts the other day because I didn’t tell you how much I sold my gold for: $1585. Cha-ching! Now then, while you all tell  me your thoughts on office attire below, I’m off to polish my silver, or whatever it is rich old fogeys do.