I’ve been in the mortgage industry since 1995. After college, I decided to move back to my hometown of Tacoma where I got a job at a finance company. After working my way up the corporate ladder, a friend encouraged me to work at the Money Store, a residential mortgage lending company. This was my first real introduction to the mortgage industry and found that it was a good fit for me. Over the next few years, I moved around to a few other local banks before ultimately landing at Heritage Bank where I’ve been now for a total of six years.
Being in the industry for over two decades, you see first-hand how different big banks are compared to community banks. Big banks usually care more about the numbers than they do their customers, which can make the process of getting a loan difficult and time consuming. The team handling the loan is likely in a different state with no real familiarity of the local area, and if any issues come up, it can take days or even weeks to get them resolved.
At Heritage, everything we do is local—from in-house processing to document preparation to closing. One of the things we pride ourselves on is the fact that our underwriting is also local. We don’t send a customer’s file out of state to be reviewed by someone who may have a problem with the appraisal because they have no knowledge of the local markets. If there’s an issue, I can pick up the phone, call the underwriter and get everything fixed in a timely fashion. This adds immediate value to the customer and further strengthens the relationship and confidence in our service levels.
We strive to make the loan process as simple as possible while also ensuring we understand our customers’ needs. A lot of loan officers will approve people for the maximum amount that they qualify for. But just because someone gets approved for $2,500 a month, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re comfortable paying this amount based on their budget and lifestyle. So, the first question I always ask a potential homebuyer is, “How much do you want to pay per month?” I want my customers to feel comfortable throughout the process and trust that I’ll do what’s best for them and their future home.
Not only are all our processes and teams local, but Heritage Bank also has a robust portfolio of loan options. We have conventional loans; first-time homebuyer programs that allow for less down payment; government loans like VA, USDA and FHA that offer low down payment options; and construction and renovation loans.
Whatever the need, we’ll make sure our customers are satisfied with their loan. We make sure to treat each customer the same regardless of whether they’re buying their first starter home or doing a $2 million dollar construction loan to build their dream home.
About the Author
Scott Leingang is the mortgage team leader at Heritage Bank and has been in the banking industry for over 20 years. In his spare time, he volunteers as a basketball coach for University Place Parks and likes to play the drums and golf.