Keep your buyers warm and toasty during the long winter months!

By all account this is going to be another strong real estate year. Buyers are active and open houses are busy. This is a great time to reconnect with all of the buyers who were not successful in obtaining a property in 2015.

When connecting with your buyers make sure to discuss the following topics to tee them up for a purchase in 2016: Have they updated their pre-qualification and have they taken higher rates into account?

Has anything affecting their financial profile changed?

Will they consider an ARM mortgage? Suggest that they talk about this option with their mortgage lender.

Is there anything that they can do financially to make their pre-qualification stronger?
Will they consider expanding the area of their real estate search? Can you take them on a tour of alternative communities?

This could also be a good time to connect them with a different lender if they are not satisfied with their current service experience.

This is also a time when I would connect with any potential sellers, not aggressively to list their property, but to gently ask if there is a number where they would sell today. Many sellers have no idea what their property is potentially worth in this market. Who knows how many frustrated buyers might meet a seller’s dream number if the opportunity presents itself. As Rosemary Kelleher from Elevate Coaching likes to say, “Everyone is a seller at the right price, don’t worry about the timing”. Find out the right price for all of those sellers sitting on the sidelines and see if you can find the right buyer at the right price for them.

There is lots of heat in our real estate economy, stay on top of buyers, communicate the truth with potential sellers and you will enjoy a warm winter and a sizzling spring!

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Great Service Never Goes On Sale Or Out Of Style!

I have a hard time understanding holiday shopping trends. For example, how is it that a product costs less from 7am to 10am than it does later in the day? The product has not changed, so what has impacted the value so suddenly and why do we, as consumers, buy into these games? Do we ever know what anything really costs these days? I’ve read articles extoling the virtues of bargaining and negotiating purchases, not just for cars and real estate but also major department stores and other retail situations. I guess best prices are available to those who haggle the most.

The mortgage business never goes on sale. At the end of the day we do not control interest rates or the costs associated with providing a mortgage. There are too many factors that control those figures; from our service providers, such as appraisers and attorneys, to regulators whose requirements have increased costs to consumers across the board, to the bond and financial markets which influence interest rates and more.
As consumers, we can shop and compare prices. In fact the CFPB’s “Know Before You Owe,” or TRID regulation is designed to educate consumers on how to shop for and how to compare mortgage offerings.

However, no one talks about shopping for service! From the numerous commercials shouting from the TV, to the pile of circulars in the Sunday paper, price is what it’s all about. Yet we are used to hearing the tales of woe and disappointment from friends and associates when a product they purchased does not deliver, or the savings did not make up for the lack of quality.

I love working in a service industry. Service never goes on sale. Service is what makes the difference in the home buying and home financing experience. Service cannot be negotiated; service delivery should be in the heart and culture of every organization that you transact business with.

What good service means can be different for each of us. As an organization or an individual providing service, the experience you provide can vary from your competitors along with how you define your offerings. What is important is to have a clear vision of your service delivery. Everyone in your organization should be able to define it, create it and deliver it to your consumers. They should consistently ask the consumer how their experience was and continue to improve based upon their feedback. On the surface it appears easy, but defining and delivering good service is always a challenge. It is this challenge that keeps so many of us in the mortgage and real estate industries engaged and energized.

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

Service never goes on sale or out of style. The challenge is to continue to define service by insuring that you are always exceeding the expectations of the experience of working with you.

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

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When it comes to insurance – Make it a policy to shop local!

There is a big ‘shop local’ campaign designed to get us holiday consumers to pay attention to our locally owned businesses versus spending our time, attention and money with the big national retailers and big box stores.

Shopping locally means a lot for local businesses and communities. For the consumer it feels good to support neighbors and friends, and to experience that high-touch personal service that is synonymous with locally owned businesses.

Shopping locally holds true for homeowners insurance as well. As part of the mortgage approval process, homebuyers are required to obtain adequate homeowners insurance well in advance of the home closing. The cost of insurance can impact a borrower’s qualification, so getting insurance early in the process can ease some of the stress of mortgage approval. Working with local insurance providers can make this a much easier task. Local agents generally represent multiple insurance companies and can offer choices in policies and carriers. Local agencies are able to move quickly and adapt swiftly if needed. We have received many frustrated calls from clients waiting for insurance binders from national companies where they are dealing with a voice at the end of an 800 number. My local insurance contacts can provide a binder in a day. If a borrower needs to make changes to their coverage before the home closing, these can be managed in hours, not days or weeks when you work with a local provider.

Although often covered through the condo fee, many of today’s condo buyers are required to carry additional insurance by their lender. A condo buyer wants to be sure that their coverage will pick up and cover the gaps where the association’s insurance ends. In this case starting with the insurance agency that manages the association’s insurance can be the best course of action and generally those agencies are local because they understand the local properties, laws and regulations when it comes to insuring condo associations and their unit owners.

Shopping locally is good for our local economies. Choosing a local insurance provider can be good for your stress level. It is great to deal with a local person who you can meet with live or get on the phone with ease. For quick, efficient quality service with that personal touch, consider shopping locally year round for all of your real estate, mortgage, financial and insurance needs.

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

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Greetings Real Estate Professionals – As we all are well aware, TRID implementation began with loan applications dated as of October 3rd and beyond.

Hopefully you are aware of the implementation of the new TRID regulations that change the way we all practice our professions in the world of real estate sales and lending. Here is a quick primer and some TRID survival tips to consider as we all get used to this new way of approaching the mortgage process in the third quarter of 2015.

Let’s talk terms first. With the implementation of TRID, even our language is changing. Here are a few examples:
Good Faith Estimate of Closing Costs = Loan Estimate or LE
Truth in Lending Disclosure = Now part of the Loan Estimate or LE
HUD = Closing Disclosure or CD
Final Truth in Lending = Now part of the Closing Disclosure or CD
Borrower = Consumer
Lender = Creditor
Closing = Consummation

I have compiled some tips to help agents navigate through this new landscape. Hopefully these will provide guidance moving forward.

First, you want to keep an eye on apply-by dates in contracts. If there are delays in performance, extend all dates accordingly. This applies to purchase and sale date, apply by date, commitment date and consummation date.

Make sure that you allow two weeks from mortgage commitment to consummation.

As long as we are talking about closings, which we now refer to as consummations, make sure that you are staggering them. Do not have all consumers consummating at the end of the month.

It is imperative that you educate your consumers. Make sure you obtain insurance early and that you are responding to lender requests quickly.

Have your sellers make any obvious repairs prior to listing. This helps prevent any delays once we are in the commitment window.

For any potential FHA sale/listing be sure that paint and safety concerns are addressed prior to listing.

When marketing a condo – Obtain condo docs in advance including master deed, budget and bylaws, as well as, insurance provider and management company contact details. Obtain a condo questionnaire in advance, if possible.

A few simple rules to REMEMBER:
The consumer must receive the Closing Documents three business days prior to consummation. The consummation will not occur if the CD is not received within that three-business day window. There is a hardship provision but will be very difficult for a consumer to prove hardship.

The consummation (closing) will be postponed if one of the following actions occur between disclosing the CD and the consummation; the APR on the loan varies by an eighth or more, the loan program changes or there is an addition of a pre-payment penalty.

However do not fear, we can adjust figures legally, even the day of the closing, as long as the adjustments do not impact the APR. Many agents have been told that all numbers have to be exact, however, there still remains room for minor changes. This cannot be promised on behalf of all mortgage companies, each company creates their own processes based on how they interpreted the regulations.

With the implementation of TRID, the bar has been raised for mortgage and real estate professionals. To ensure happy and satisfied consumers we have to come together and work as a team and deliver a high quality experience for all. We can do it and we will. Education is the first step and continued coordination will ensure we keep exceeding our customers’ expectations.

For more TRID TIPS or TRID Training, give us a call. We will be happy to come to your office and provide additional TRID education to help us all meet the demands of the new mortgage marketplace.

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What’s TRID and how does it affect me?

To the mortgage industry, TRID stands for TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosures. For consumers, the regulation is called KNOW BEFORE YOU OWE!

If you have been in the market for a new house and have been speaking with a realtor or mortgage specialist, you may have heard the term, “TRID,” bouncing around. TRID is an overhaul of the mortgage industry and loan practices mandated by the government. TRID officially began with loan application dates as of October 3rd and beyond.

As a consumer, TRID was implemented to make the mortgage process more transparent and easier to understand with a more predictable process. The goal of the regulation is to ensure that consumers fully understand the mortgage process and all the costs associated with obtaining a loan. The regulators are also hoping that TRID will help consumers do more shopping for mortgage services by making side-by-side cost comparisons easier to break down. Here is a quick primer and some TRID survival tips to consider.

New terms used by TRID and the old ones, which they have replaced.
Good Faith Estimate of Closing Costs = Loan Estimate or LE
Truth in Lending Disclosure = Now part of the Loan Estimate or LE
HUD = Closing Disclosure or CD
Final Truth in Lending = Now part of the Closing Disclosure or CD
Borrower = Consumer
Lender = Creditor
Closing = Consummation

Here are some tips to make your loan process as smooth and headache-free as possible.
• Quickly provide every document your creditor requests and be prepared to provide more.
• Obtain your insurance at the time of application to get the task out of the way. At latest, insurance must be in place two weeks prior to consummation.
• Be prepared to liquidate funds early.
• If receiving a gift, have the creditor-required gift documentation completed right away and have the funds transferred early for verification purposes (at least two weeks prior to consummation).
• Do not do anything that impacts your financial profile once you start home shopping. Do not move money, apply for credit cards or other consumer loans, do not change jobs, do not co-sign on any debt, do not cancel or close any credit accounts. Talk with your loan originator first if you need to take any of these actions.

• You must receive the Closing Disclosure three business days prior to consummation or the closing will be delayed.
• There is a hardship provision, however it is very difficult to prove.
• Your consummation (closing) will be postponed if one of the following actions occur between receiving the CD and the consummation; the APR on the loan varies by an eighth or more, the loan program changes or there is an addition of a pre-payment penalty.

The bar has been raised for mortgage and real estate professionals in order to provide you the most transparent and highest quality of service. Please do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Your real estate and mortgage professionals are there for you!

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Local Businesswoman Requested for Nation’s Top Conventions


Needham, MA (Aug. 7, 2015) – Amy Tierce, Regional Vice President of Wintrust Mortgage, NMLS# 15695, based in Needham, MA, is being sought after as a premier speaker amongst United States mortgage bankers.

Tierce spent three days in our nation’s capitol at the beginning of August among an impressive list of speakers to partake in the 2015 Lenders One Summer Conference. Over 450 members and partners gathered together for three days of education and engaging discussion about the mortgage business.

Tierce was also selected to be a featured speaker at the 4th Annual New England Women in Banking Conference in Newport, Rhode Island. Slated to speak with the likes of Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Maureen McGovern, Tierce will spread her first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to be a woman in the highly competitive banking industry to the largest gathering of women in the banking and credit union industries.

This local businesswoman’s impressive credentials have helped solidify her as a top-rated speaker to audiences around the country. Tierce began her career in the mortgage industry in 1990 and currently holds the title of Regional Vice President of Wintrust Mortgage of Needham, MA. Prior to taking on the tremendous responsibility of growing the Chicago-based Wintrust Mortgage’s brand into the Northeast, for nine years Tierce led the #1 Fairway Independent Mortgage branch as well as served as New England Regional Manager for 8 additional branches. A voracious reader and life-long student of the real estate/financial industries, she is always one to share her knowledge and expertise with audiences of all sizes.

About Wintrust Mortgage:
Wintrust Mortgage was created to assist in the realization of the American dream of home ownership. Our large volume and the ability to lend in all 50 states make us one of the largest mortgage bankers in the country. In 2014 alone, we originated nearly $3.4 billion in loans. Wintrust Mortgage hosts over 190 retail, operations and bank locations across the country. Wintrust Mortgage is a division of Barrington Bank & Trust Company, N.A., a Wintrust Community Bank, NMLS# 449042. Equal Housing Lender. For more information visit the company website at, “Like” us on Facebook by visiting and follow us on Twitter @WinMortgage.


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More on Email Overload…and Email Management!

Group Emails:
Remember to read the full body of the email before replying. If you are replying to only one member of the group DO NOT reply all. However, if your response will matter to the group DO reply all.
Subject Lines:
Make sure that your subject line is searchable. Be specific to the topic so the email can be easily found when someone on the thread needs to refer back to it or continue the conversation.

New Thread:
If you are addressing a new thought or conversation start a new thread with a new subject line. That way the conversation can be tracked and easily searched by subject line.

Folders – Follow Up:
Keep a ‘follow up’ folder for the emails where you might have used a placeholder, such as “I will get back to you later today when I am in front of my computer”, or for subjects and topics that you need to follow up on or refer back to. The follow up folder can house reminders of activities, to get back on track for something or an event that is far enough out that you don’t want to commit to it. Check your follow up folder daily or weekly, whatever works for you!

Folders – Other:
Use folders for short-term project management. For example, if you are looking for new office space, create an office space folder to house all the communication associated with that project. Or if you are hiring someone it can be a great place to keep resumes as you work through the process. When the event, project or activity has passed just delete the folder.
Communication management plays a significant role in providing high-quality service in the mortgage industry and in other industries where you engage with clients. I hope that these tips are helpful to you; I know that good email management and communication strategies make us a better team here at Wintrust.

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Do You Do Unto Others?

You know the golden rule, the one that top service providers and commissioned sales people live by… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” commonly known as “The Golden Rule,” is a valuable guide to live by.

I have lived both my personal life and business life following this rule. And yet, what if others want or expect something different from me? What if how they do unto others is not how I do?

I was forced to think about this a few years ago when one of my really good clients called about refinancing their mortgage. We talked about rates, the process and the documents I would need them to gather for me, time lines etc. They were both dealing with deadlines and stresses around their work, so I suggested that they take a few days and I would contact them after the weekend to get it all rolling.

I reached out to them as promised and I was shocked to hear that they had applied for a mortgage with another lender! When I asked what happened, they said that the other lender cold called them and was more aggressive, talked them into locking the loan on the phone, took the application over the phone and had them agree to send in all required docs the next morning. Because he was so aggressive, they just did what he told them to do and it was done. So, even though I treated them as I would like to be treated during a time of high business stress, he did exactly the opposite of what I would want as a consumer and he won their transaction.

I am having a similar experience today with a potential recruit. He is very busy, has a parent with major health issues, has multiple fires to address in his pipeline, and has another employment offer to consider. Do I back away and give him mental space? Or do I jump in aggressively and try to get a commitment from him now?

I know that if it were me, I would want me to back off, give me some space and then time to sort everything out. I would also remember to keep “me” in the loop as I worked through the decision process. However, in the past I have had some great connections with potential recruits and clients who when ready to make a career move or buy a new house, forgot all about me. Because of this, I have learned to stay in front of people who really interest me and not to stop unless they ask. Just because I want to be left alone does not mean that is what works for others.

My golden rules are different from yours, and yours could be different from the client sitting in front of you. You need to ask them what’s important. How do they want to be treated, communicated with and what works for them? The golden rules still apply when talking about being treated with kindness, respect, fairness… but we need to model our service delivery around what our clients want not what we think they want. It all starts with questions.
So ask them, what does the Golden Rule mean to you? How can we be sure that this transaction is a winner for both you and for me? Now, you have the golden opportunity to serve your clients as they want to be served.

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Email Overload

I was in a two hour meeting this morning — when I came back to my desk, I had 78 new emails.

Usually, I have about 20 messages in my inbox at any given time, but at the end of the day I prefer to get it down to zero if I can. I tend to use the email in my inbox like a ‘to do’ list — I hold on to dates I need to remember, things I need to reply to that require some research or coordination, and reminders for some kind of immediate action.

When I got to my 78 emails, I immediately deleted the stuff I didn’t need, want or care about, and then replied to any that would take me 3 minutes or less.

After that, I reviewed the remainder. For some, I replied that I would review and respond in depth later in the day or week. I set proper expectations before moving them into my follow-up file. For some, I delegated by copying and introducing a recipient, and then handed the conversation off to that person. Some I need to take more time to read and review and consider how I’ll respond. ALL of them will be addressed by the end of the day.

With this practice, it took me about 20 minutes to manage all 78 messages… and I was done! Now as I sit at my desk working away, I’ll respond to incoming mail every 15 minutes or so, and at the end of the day I’ll just have my ‘to do’ list remaining.

Many trainers suggest that we have other people manage our email. Personally, I get a lot positive responses from my business partners about how quickly I respond to email requests, and I’d hate to miss out on that experience. So I’d never have anyone else manage my email!
Tricks to managing a lot of email:

• Read the email! This may sound like a silly suggestion, but sometimes when we don’t fully read our emails before responding the result can be unnecessary follow-up emails. Often the question that I have was actually answered in the original email, but because I was rushing, I didn’t fully read and process the content in its entirety. Then the chain just continues, read thoroughly and respond thoughtfully.

• If you can respond in 3 minutes or less, just do it! This is a sage bit of advice from efficiency expert David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. I highly recommend the book, but in the meantime, if you can get something done in three minutes or less, whether it’s email or something else… just do it!

• Use your folders and file/archive emails that you need for later.

• Use what I call “place holders” — short messages like, “thanks so much for reaching out to me, I’m dashing out to a meeting but I’m looking forward to connecting with you. I’ll reach back out this afternoon when I return at 4:00 PM.” This way, the sender feels connected, and they aren’t left wondering if I got their email or whether I’m going to get back to them.

• Use your out-of-office messages — if you know you’re not available for a period of time, create an out-of-office message to control the flow of information and set up expectations.

• STOP SAVING STUFF. One friend of mine has over 1200 messages in her inbox — she goes in periodically and tries to delete them after reading them, but she holds on to so much that she could just get rid of. That sale at Bloomingdales has passed, and the Chamber of Commerce will be sending you another list of upcoming activities. You don’t need to read them, and you don’t need to save them – become a deleting machine.

• Lastly, remember your ‘unsubscribe’ button and use it. Eventually many that you unsubscribe from will sneak back into your inbox one way or another, but there’s satisfaction in sending them the message that you don’t want their junk mail.

Read, reply, save for later, delete. Don’t let email manage you — manage your email to provide fast, friendly and efficient service.

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More Condo Stocking Stuffers from Fannie Mae

In addition to reforming condo underwriting guidelines to allow limited project review classification on 2-4 unit condo associations, Fannie Mae has also eased the requirements in other areas as well.

Commercial Occupancy:

Maximum commercial influence in a condo association was 20% and now it is 25%.  This means that a mix-use condo project can have up to 25% of the square footage dedicated to commercial use.

Owners who own more than one unit:

In condo association with 20 units or less, one owner can now own 2 units.  In the past, the rule read that one unit owner couldn’t own more than 10% of the units. This meant that in associations with fewer than 20 units, if a single entity owned two of the condos the property was ineligible for conventional financing.

Condo fee delinquency:

Up until now, when examining the association financials no more than 15% of the unit owners could be past due on condo fees or assessments by 30 days.  The time frame has been increased to 60 days past due versus 30 days.

Pre-Sale Requirements:

New construction pre-sale requirements have been reduced from 70% of the units to 50% of the units.

AND more GREAT News!!!

The high-balance loan limit has gone UP in many counties across the country! 

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