Do you know all the different programs available with little or no money down?

Conventional 97% - (That’s 3% down) Fannie Mae has reinstated their 3% down loan program. One of the borrowers must be a first time homebuyer, which means that they cannot have had ownership interest in a home in the past 3 years. All of the down payment can be a gift from a family member!

My Community Mortgage - Like the Conventional 97 program, this Fannie Mae product is for lower income buyers and offers reduced mortgage insurance costs. Borrowers must complete a homebuyer education class. Income limits are established by county that must be adhered to.

FHA Loans - Allows buyers to get into a home with a 3.5% down payment, which can be in the form of a gift from a family member. FHA makes allowances for lower credit scores and higher ratios.

VA Loans - This is a first class zero down payment loan program. Wintrust waives our processing and underwriting fees for our veterans. The seller can contribute up to 4% as a credit towards closing costs and we can offer a lender credit to minimize closing costs as well. Always be sure to ask your prospects if they have served in the military.

USDA Loans - Yes, the US Department of Agriculture has a home loan division that allows 100% financing. The property must be in a rural zone and the borrower’s income must be within the USA income limits. Give us a call if you want to learn more about USDA qualified communities in your area.

State Bond Programs - Most states offer a housing program of some type that allows for zero or low down payment and other benefits for the state’s low to moderate income residents. For example, Massachusetts offers the Mass Housing programs, which has income limitations and is available to first time buyers only (defined as not having ownership in a piece of real estate in the past three years) and requires that the buyer attend a home buying education class.

Each of these programs offers different benefits and advantages depending upon the profile of the homebuyer. Let your mortgage professionals at Wintrust Mortgage navigate this maze with your buyers. We will provide complete education as to appropriate offerings and provide written comparisons on all programs. Homebuyers will be better equipped to make an educated decision on how to structure their new home purchase in a way that meets their needs and dreams!

Amy Tierce
Regional Vice President

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

Share Button

Amy Tierce and Amyrates moves to Wintrust Mortgage!

Welcome back to the Amyrates Blog!

We have been busy re-building, re-branding and re-structuring our platform.  In case you haven’t heard, after 10 years of building and running the top branch at Fairway Independent Mortgage, I decided to move to Wintrust Mortgage!  I was hired to build a new region for the company and I am very excited for this opportunity. Wintrust Mortgage is part of Wintrust Financial Corporation, a nearly $20 billion asset financial services company based out of Chicago. Since we are a nationally chartered lender, I can lend in all 50 states from our Needham location. Through Wintrust Mortgage, we offer more products and programs than I have ever had access to; as well as a top flight condo department. Wintrust processes loans in a manner that is highly efficient and consumer friendly.

Please enjoy the Amyrates blog site! We will be creating new content weekly as the Wintrust Advisor which is targeted to the real estate community. In addition we will be adding posts on motivation, home buying, leadership, business development and women in business!

Stay tuned and thanks for paying attention.


With the opening of its new location in Needham, Mass, Midwest based Wintrust Mortgage has expanded into the New England region under the guidance of Regional Vice President Amy Tierce. Wintrust has the systems, compliance and security of a nationally chartered entity along with the flexibility of a correspondent lending platform and offers their clients the stability and clout of a $20 billion dollar bank. The service-focused mortgage lender has great expertise in all facets of mortgage lending, and their portfolio, condominium and jumbo offerings make them an especially good fit for the Metro-Boston market and all of New England.

Veteran lender Amy Tierce is at the forefront of the expansion and is using her vast industry knowledge to grow the New England region for Wintrust. “I am incredibly excited to introduce a new lending brand to New England. There is no one mortgage company, bank or lender who can execute every single deal that comes across their desk, but at Wintrust we can do more than most, and combined with our delivery systems we are the winning team,” says Tierce. She says New England is the perfect fit for Wintrust. Tierce adds, “This is a very challenging environment and I believe that the best originators and realtors need to be served by the strongest lending platform. How could I resist this opportunity?”

Amy isn’t just a top lender at Wintrust, she knows New England. Her knowledge comes from her experience as Regional VP for Fairway Independent Mortgage and manager of their number one Newton MA branch and region. Tierce isn’t the only New England addition to Wintrust’s new location. A strong team was crafted from Fairway, Deana Auman-Kirbach, Regional Operations Manager, Linda Erwin, Sr. Underwriter and Michele Auman, Sr. Processor. On the origination side, Brian Denton, an industry veteran and top originator formerly with Fairway and Drew Grandi former Business Development Director from Poli Mortgage are also on the team. Wintrust’s Executive Vice President of Sales Bob Shield raved, “When we met Amy, and later her team, we knew that this was a group we could build a region around. They have high standards and strong value systems around quality compliant origination, high-trust customer service, education, community engagement and charitable involvement, all hallmarks of Wintrust.”

Share Button

What is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)?

Established in the wake of the financial meltdown, the CFPB was tasked with standing up for consumers, making sure they’re treated fairly, and restoring trust in the consumer financial marketplace.  This is a huge regulatory agency which oversees the banking and lending entities in our nation.From the CFPB website:

What’s the difference between being prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage?

Updated 5/8/2013

Prequalification is a lender’s estimate of how much you could be eligible to borrow based on information you supply. Prequalification does not mean you will get the loan. Prequalifications are usually free.

Preapproval usually means that the lender is ready to make you a mortgage loan based on the information and documentation you provided at the time you requested a preapproval. The preapproval will say how long it is valid for and may contain some other conditions for you to get the loan. Your lender may not require that you pay any fees except the cost of a credit report at this time.

The Truth

The CFPB’s definition doesn’t really tell the full story — real estate professionals need to review any letter representing a buyer’s ability to obtain a mortgage with great care and scrutiny, no matter what the letter is called.

Today, some banks have made the decision to NOT issue pre-approval letters due to the cumbersome regulatory environment, so they may call their letter a pre-qualification. Lenders licensed as mortgage brokers can’t issue a pre-approval letter because they aren’t licensed to approve loans. Some lenders issue letters based on a simple conversation with the borrower and call them pre-approvals; some lenders have borrowers submit information though a website that churns out pre-approval letters without any lender review; some lenders issue letters only after a thorough investigative process.

What matters is the process used to get the answer — not what the letter is called, but what it says.

When evaluating a pre-qualification or a pre-approval letter on behalf of a seller, this is what you need to look for.

Does the letter contain the following?

  • The purchase price
  • The loan amount
  • An expiration date
  • Names and addresses of all buyers
  • Percent of the down payment
  • Loan type (Conventional, Jumbo, USDA, FHA, VA, etc.)
  • Loan term (Fixed or Adjustable, 30 years or 15 years, etc.)
  • Whether or not the transaction is dependent upon the sale of another property
  • Status of the property being sold (on market, under agreement)
  • Contact information for the loan officer and their NMLS number
  • Lender name and licensing details

Next, you need to ask yourself an important question: “do I know and trust this loan officer/institution?” Do not hesitate to call the loan officer and interview them on their process.

If the letter doesn’t state what documentation has been reviewed as a part of the process, then you should ask if the loan officer has reviewed the following:

  • Two years of federal tax returns
  • Two years of W2’s
  • One month of paystubs
  • Two months of asset statements checking, savings, investments to verify the source of down payment.
  • Credit report
  • Any additional documentation needs that arise out of the client interview

Don’t take a letter from an unknown lender at face value.  A high percentage of purchase transactions fall apart due to financing issues.

It doesn’t matter what the letter is called — it matters that the lender and the buyers worked together to ensure that the transaction will close on time. It matters that the lender is thorough, detailed and transparent about their process.

We are that lender — we’re here to help your buyers through this process and to celebrate your closing success with you! Give me a call anytime you need a second opinion on a letter, no matter what it’s called.

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

Share Button

There Are Many Ways to Evaluate a Mortgage Lender

There are many ways to evaluate a mortgage lender.

I’m a student of the mortgage industry — I read everything I can on the business, whether it’s written for consumers or for industry professionals, and especially if it includes information pertaining to or coming from the CFPB. For those of you who don’t know, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a regulatory authority that was formed four years ago. It oversees consumer financial products and the organizations that provide them. To learn more about the CFPB and their mission, visit

I’m always surprised and disappointed when guides to finding a suitable lender are published and focus primarily on rates, points and fees. A home purchase is generally the largest financial transaction in which most consumers will ever engage. I appreciate that cost and fees are a large factor when shopping for a mortgage, but there are many other factors to consider when selecting a lender.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” — Benjamin Franklin

In addition to costs, what else should real estate professionals and consumers be seeking from a loan officer/lender?

Do they have a signature line in their email that includes their contact information and their mortgage licensing information? This is required by law.
Is their written communication well-produced, utilizing proper language, punctuation? Is it professionally formatted? Does the communication make sense? Is it helpful?
Did the lender offer or prepare any written details pertaining to the loan, like a spreadsheet or preliminary estimate of costs and fees, and a loan product comparison?
Did the lender explain how a rate lock works?
Was your initial call or email returned promptly?
Is the lender available to work with you when you’re available?
When they offer a pre-approval or pre-qualification, do they require that the consumer submit all pertinent financial documents to review before issuing a letter?
Are they fast to respond when needed?
Do they have a team backing them up?
Do they offer to talk with the seller or listing agent about a specific borrower/offer?

This list could go on forever — mortgage financing is complicated, and it requires the services of a confident and experienced professional to guide the consumer and agent through to the closing. Of course, no matter who you call, you’ll always be able to find someone willing to do the job for less, but making a large financial decision based exclusively on price can lead to a stressful and unhappy experience. Be sure to shop for quality service too, so that your real estate closing will be a celebration instead of an aggravation!

We’re here to help you and your buyers do more, learn more and grow more!

Share Button

Want to provide great customer service? Empower your people!

Everything in business sales — and sales is customer service. How do the people who represent you show up and serve your clients?

I needed to upgrade the prescription for my glasses; the frames were barely used, so instead of just replacing them I wanted to re-use them. (Did you know that it costs more to buy lenses for existing frames than it does to buy a complete set of glasses? Well, that’s another story.)

I went to the eye doctor, got a new prescription, and handed it to the manager of the store along with two sets of frames. I begged for a rush job since I would be traveling, but she said she “couldn’t control that.” Hmph!

I picked up the glasses, and over the following weeks I realized that the prescription was wrong: they were supposed to be progressives, but I couldn’t read anything wearing them. Cut to another trip to the store, where — after much haggling — the manager agreed to take the glasses back to replace the lenses again, but only after she could speak with my eye doctor. Because of the confusion I had to make a return trip to the eye doctor, who told me that they had installed the wrong prescription — period.

Back to the store — again — where I was told that, because progressive lenses were more expensive, I would have to pay an additional $120 to get my frames filled with the correct prescription. Since I’ve been a great client/customer at this store (five pairs of glasses in the last two years from the Tierces), I wondered if perhaps she could do something about the additional fee to compensate for the fact that they had it wrong from the beginning. The store manager wrote down the name and number for her district manager and suggested that I take it higher up!

No one could find the district manager because she’s on the road, and after much deliberation I was put in touch with the customer service manager, who offered to replace the lenses for $25.00 per pair. I said that was nice, but zero would be nicer.

They have an annoyed customer on their hands — had they empowered their manager to negotiate with me, or had the manager called her boss while I was in the store to plead my case, this could have been prevented. I was annoyed when I walked in because I was prepared for a battle and I got one. It would have been easy for the manager to make me feel like my experience matters to the company by behaving as though she cared. How? Well, she could have called her manager directly and fixed the situation, or she could have waived the cost on her own.

Is that how they want me to feel? In the world of blogging, tweeting and Yelp! customers have a voice, and not one that service providers or retailers really want us to have. No matter how right or wrong I think one of my clients is, I will always do what I need to do in order to have them walk away satisfied — not annoyed or angry. Empower the people who represent you to work out issues, to right wrongs, to take responsibility and action on behalf of their reputation.

If someone on my team takes action to correct a concern or problem they’ll be applauded first — if I don’t agree with the tactic used or the money refunded we can address that later, but customer satisfaction is number one on my list of what matters. It should be number one for all retailers, service providers and professionals. I know there are other mortgage companies to serve my clients, just like there are other eyeglass stores (at least 10 near me) where I can take my business. I’m loyal, until I’m given a reason not to be — you should be too!

Share Button

Loyalty Check too – are you worthy?

With the New Year I decided to evaluate my loyal relationships, both personal and professional — but now it’s time to look in the mirror.

Over almost 30 years in the mortgage and real estate industries, I’ve built some tremendous relationships, but no matter what, I need to take a look to be sure that I’m earning loyalty from my consumers, referral partners and employees every day.

Five years ago, a move to a new home prompted me to reevaluate my dentist’s and doctor’s practices — I wanted to see if the value they provide was worthy of the longer drive to continue seeing them.  In the end, I chose new professionals — here are some of the reasons why I made those changes, and how I look at my loyal relationships:

  • Proximity is important to me in my crazy life, so I’ll choose a provider by location.
  • Being good is the cost of admission — I want to work with smart, innovative, life-long learners in whatever profession I’m reviewing.
  • If location doesn’t matter, then technology will — if you don’t need to see the provider live, you’ll still need to communicate well, such as with a financial planner or accountant.
  • Communication is my top requirement; effective, efficient and smart communication from service providers is at the top of my list of loyalty requirements.
  • Education – I want to learn new things, try new approaches and routines, and look at issues through a different lens. Whether financial or medical, there are many approaches to different subjects — my loyalty will go to a provider with knowledge, and the ability to communicate a new way of considering a subject.
  • Friendliness of staff, cleanliness of facilities, easy to use technology — all of these are important to me.
  • I want to feel as though my providers are on top of everything, but I never want to feel like they’re trying to upsell me. I’d rather be provided with options — I don’t want to be sold, but rather feel that they’re providing a solution.
  • I want to feel hugged — yes, that sounds silly, but I want to feel like my loyalty is valued, that I’m respected by my providers, and that my opinion matters.

So when I look in the mirror, I need to review where my loyalties stand, and question what I need to do to strengthen those bonds, or create new, stronger bonds with each person who chooses to do business with me.

What are you doing to earn and retain loyalty in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

To lots of loyalty in the New Year!

Share Button

Let’s take a Loyalty Check Up!

Are you worthy?  Are they worthy?

The beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate our personal, professional and business relationships. Are our partnerships working? Are our loyalties being reciprocated? Are our partners of the highest quality? I look at all of the people I conduct business with as service providers. I believe that as consumers we should expect high-quality service from our doctors, dentists, hair dressers, plumbers, drycleaners — any business or person who we pay to provide us with a service in return.

I’m an incredibly loyal person — I’ve had the same accountant since I first entered the workforce, many decades ago. I saw the same hairdresser for 15 years, until she passed away suddenly.  I had the same doctor and dentist from the age of 12 until just five years ago, when moving caused me to review my situation.  Moving one town away isn’t a big deal, driving an extra three to five miles is nothing… but considering how busy our lives are, I decided I needed to conduct a loyalty review of my personal practitioners and partners.

In the end, I found a new dentist just blocks away, and I love the practice; since my doctor was going to retire, it seemed like a good time to find a new physician anyway, and that was a fantastic decision.  I replaced two of my most loyal relationships and haven’t regretted that for one minute.  The new perspective from both professionals changed many practices in my life. In fact, a new relationship can very likely produce new and different results.  Many people don’tlike change, but remaining attached to a professional relationship can mean that you’re actually missing out on something better.  I would suggest that a move is great reason to re-evaluate — I didn’t want to add another 20 minutes to a visit with my doctor or dentist if I could find a better practice closer to home; however, if I believe a practitioner is worthy,  then my loyalty would withstand the 20 added minutes.

As I network and meet new people each and every day, I’ve realized that it’s time to consider my other loyalties, and whether or not I’m receiving any rewards for my loyalty in the professional space.  Everyone complains that companies are always rewarding new customers with special offers — ‘first month free’ or ‘six months of extra services’ — but those same companies do not reward the loyalty of their long-time clients.

Take a few minutes to do a loyalty check today!  Who are you doing business with in your personal and professional life, and are you getting the best service today for your loyalty, or is there another provider who will take better care of you?

Share Button