David Simon of AJM Mortgage Talks About the Importance of the Local Lender Experience
Recently, we had the opportunity sit down with mortgage lending veterans David Simon and Christopher Bridge of AJM Mortgage; a growing Pennsylvania based Mortgage Company, to learn more about the strides they are making in the mortgage lending space and about a company whose mission is all about making the process for clients and referral partners straightforward and simple.
How did AJM come to be?
“I started my career in mortgage lending over twenty years ago”, says Simon. “Learning the many intricacies of real estate and lending while working my way through the many levels of business and management; eventually leading to 2004 where together with Todd Stainbrook, we founded AJM Mortgage. Todd and I realized early on that if we were going to be successful, we needed to be different from the competition. We agreed that the best way to build AJM’s client base would be through the forging of trusted referral partnerships. The competition then, solely focused on buying telemarketing and internet leads. Todd and I saw this as a boom or bust short-term approach in a time when interest rates were historically low. That wasn't our approach. Instead, we aligned with real estate partners and concentrated on building trusting relationships with a community focused approach centered around one thing: great service. We built and modeled our business accordingly and today we still foster that model, while growing strong. AJM Mortgage has an excellent reputation for delivering unparalleled customer service and it all starts with their people”.
Where does AJM Mortgage do business?
Simon takes the question. “The bulk of our business remains in our backyard in Southwestern, PA area, we plan to expand soon to Erie, Pennsylvania and already do business in Florida, largely by request of our clients who wanted to continue working with us as they looked for a second home or investment property”.
Christopher, you recently joined AJM. With your background in the wholesale space and your relationship with so many different lenders and brokers, why did you choose AJM?
“Let me start by giving you a briefing of my career to date, as it will better frame the answer. I've been in the mortgage industry for 20 years and have experience as an originator, title agent, internal wholesale operations, regional sales manager, and an account executive. With my background I have the ability to help my clients walk through the mortgage process by understanding every possible roadblock that they could run into. I see it as my responsibility to make sure that I have been as thorough as possible in the early stages so there are no surprises as we move through to closing. My top priority is to close on time, every time. I love to build new relationships every day and look forward to helping borrowers and my real estate partners navigate the complex environment that we find ourselves in today by making every transaction as pain free as possible. I originated for 5 years with different companies before opening my own mortgage company, which I owned for 5 years before selling it, then spent another 10 years on the Wholesale side as an Account Executive and Regional Sales Manager. In the last 10 years, I got to know just about every mortgage broker in western PA. That was my job”.
Bridge continues, “Flash-forward to last spring, I decided that timing was right to get back into originating. The first person I reached out to was David. Through my career I dealt with a lot of broker shops. What impressed me about David and his team, was AJM’s focus on providing great service paired with a smooth process and the ability to close my loans on time, every time. I liked that as a broker I knew I could trust AJM to handle my business with accuracy and on time. It made sense for me to join forces with a company that was always about quality, not quantity. AJM has a great reputation, built on trust. I had personally experienced the great relationship as a broker and so when I was re-entering the business I felt that AJM is as good as it gets and I couldn't be happier, I know I made the right professional choice”.
Simon adds: “We are very fortunate to have people like Chris at AJM. I’d also like to mention Ben Yocca, whom like Chris, treats borrowers and real estate agents like family. In fact, a high percentage of Ben’s business actually comes from referral business largely in part due to the amazing experience client’s have with him. Ben takes is job seriously. For him, it's essential that both the borrower and real estate agent have a clear line of communication throughout the entire loan process to ensure a successful transaction. Real estate agents entrust their business to the AJM team because they know we deliver on time, every time.
Why do real estate partners continue to send you business over and over again instead of using other lenders?
Simon fields the question, “Ethics and thoroughness. We take the time upfront to ask a lot of questions, to dig deep to find out what the true need is and understand the borrower's situation. We take the time to evaluate each and every loan to fully understand and uncover any potential problems or complications that could hinder the process. This upfront diligence ensures the consumer won't lose the house they want because some snag that has come up in the process. Or, the numbers will be on target so at the end there are no surprises. And, that's tied into our ethics. We understand the time and energy and emotion that go into buying a house. It's not right to give someone a pre-approval letter saying they can buy a house for X dollars and then pull the rug out from under them when it comes time to process the loan”.
Why should an agent who already has a history of working with another lender give AJM a chance?
Simon responds; “Best policy is to do whatever is best for our clients”. “We don’t sell anything. We help our clients achieve the dream of homeownership”. I would pose the question to an agent. At the closing are your clients enthusiastically thanking you for referring them to your mortgage person. IF not, you should ask yourself why? IF your goal is to provide unparalleled service to your buyers and gain repeat business and referrals then that won’t happen if they aren’t thrilled with your entire team (which includes anyone that you are referring your clients to). That is the approach we take at AJM Mortgage.
Christopher, with today's mortgage business challenges, how can realtors be more successful by working with a local lender?
“A realtor invests an enormous amount of time with a client. From showing dozens of houses, to processing paperwork, attending inspections – and until the deal is closed, they don't see a penny. They don't get their paycheck until the very end of the deal. It's paramount that the process goes as smoothly as possible to avoid investing even more time on issues that, if addressed early, and we’ll go back to thoroughness again, could have been avoided. Realtors basically make money in two ways – selling their clients' houses and their clients buying houses. The less time they need to spend on the process of doing both, the more prospecting they can do to increase their volume of buying and selling of houses”.
What message would you send to local realtors who have not yet had the opportunity to experience a working partnership with AJM?
Responds Bridge; “The message to our local realtors would be; Give us the opportunity to earn your business. We will take the time to educate your client on what to expect from the home buying process through what they can realistically afford. We know the pain points a realtor can experience when dealing with lenders who over promise and under deliver. We believe our job is taking care of your client and closing on time, every time. We don't work “bankers' hours.” We are accessible nights, weekends, early mornings when needed, we are there”.
Are there any trends that concern you in the industry?
Simon says; “Consumers should proceed with caution when considering obtaining a mortgage through an online process. There is a big difference between buying a pair of shoes online and uploading all your personal and financial information in order to secure a mortgage, not to mention ongoing cyber security threats, I feel it's important to use local professionals. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently tweeted "When it comes to #mortgages, take your time, ask questions and #knowbeforeyouowe".
David Simon and Christopher Bridge take their business seriously and focus on providing the best in service. They have BIG plans for 2016 and we look forward to following them as they continue to develop smart growth on their journey. If you’re a Realtor® ready to work with a team that’s fully invested into your client’s needs, AJM Mortgage just may be the perfect solution.
AJM Mortgage was founded in January of 2004 by Todd Stainbrook & David Simon. Prior to opening AJM Mortgage both Todd and David enjoyed over a decade of success in the mortgage industry. Their business plan is simple. Provide unparalleled customer service by identifying a borrowers specific needs and fulfilling them. AJM Mortgage has developed relationships with many wholesale lenders, which allows them to offer great rates in addition to impeccable service. AJM Mortgage has helped thousands of homeowners achieve their dreams. AJM’s specialized mortgage experts handcraft customized mortgages.
Source: AJM Mortgage