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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010 7 years ago

Lending hands

Winter Park's First Florida Lending can compare loan rates at both foreign and stateside banks
by: Kristy Vickery

When Winter Park resident Pat Dejong and his wife decided to refinance the home of their dreams they didn't realize it would not be as easy as just going to the bank.

"I had an initial loan with a big bank, but once our situation changed… they weren't willing to renegotiate the loan," Dejong said.

So instead of seeking out another bank that was willing to negotiate the terms they were looking for, Dejong decided to give a lending company a try, to receive the loan he was looking for in a still wary economy.

"Rather than going to one big bank and them pushing whatever products they have, we went to a company that has access to a number of different options," he said.

Dejong decided to explore these options by turning to Winter Park-based First Florida Lending Corporation, which specializes in "jumbo" mortgages (loans more than $417,000) and corresponds with many different lenders to find the best rates for their clients.

"We not only have the bank down the block, but we have the bank in Ohio, and the bank in London," First Florida President Sue Hann Jacobs said. "So the good news is we analyze what gives you the best match on the means of the client; that way you have a better shot at getting one."

Not only did First Florida help Dejong find the best rate, but he said the process was much faster.

"Once we got the loan approval, it was about 30 days for the length of time to get a closing," he said.

Kelly Price and Company Realtor Pamela Birthisel said she believes in this tough economical market she would definitely recommend using a lender.

"I find that the one-on-one relationship … helps the process of approval take that burden off of a first-time homebuyer," Birthisel. "It's a one-stop shop."

First Florida Lending Account Executive Marian Berger said a benefit of this one-stop shop is the access lending companies have to wholesalers and products.

"They have a lot more access to a lot more products and price options for their borrowers," she said. "The borrower has a bigger choice on getting their loan closed."

Although lending companies can be the right step for many, University of Central Florida Finance Professor Jim Gilkeson said people should always take caution when borrowing money. "About 20 percent of homeowners are underwater with their homes, meaning they owe more money on the home than the home is worth — that's pretty scary," Gilkeson said.

But even with a scary market still lingering in the shadows, many are starting to feel brave enough to venture out once again.

"I think in general people are feeling a little better, and they're looking forward to being able to purchase a new home these days," Berger said. "There's more of a positive attitude in the mortgage industry."

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