When one considers that it runs in his family, it’s not surprising Robert Johnson has excelled in the mortgage industry for the past 15 years.
Currently Vice-President of Business Development for Pacific Funding Group in Walnut Creek, Robert was formerly a successful computer programmer, but his interest in the mortgage business was piqued by his mother. “My mom was a successful loan officer,” he recalled, “She gave me guidance in getting started as a loan officer in 1997, and I never looked back.”
He found that his hi-tech background actually helped him learn the loan funding systems very quickly. “Like programming, loan origination is very process-driven. Lots of moving parts. I was able to see how all the parts fit, how the process flowed, and understand how all the departments had to work together: the title company, the mortgage bank, and the loan officer,” he explained.
Over the years, Robert learned how crucial good customer service is. “What I’ve learned is that turn times and service levels are the main keys to a great client experience–speed is the name of the game in this business,” he said. “Plus, you have to be a master of your trade, and know all the ins and outs of the loan business.”
When he pursued the challenge of opening Pacific Funding’s newest office in Walnut Creek in 2010, Robert searched among the top FHA-loan producing companies and selected Golden Empire Mortgage, to be their mortgage banking platform.
Then he set about staffing with a very clear vision: be better than everybody else. ”I chose people who are serious about their business–and they’re experts,” he said. “They’re energetic and enthused; they want to answer their phone and deal with the issues that arise, and they anticipate things and ask for information up front.”
Robert attributes Pacific Funding’s success to their level of commitment. “My loan officers are advocates for their clients. They’re full-time, in the office; we’re available every day, all day. We don’t close on Saturday or Sundays, and we don’t pass you on to another loan closer or coordinator.”
Another major selling point: Pacific Funding has their own HVCC appraisal panel. “When it comes to appraisers, less is more” Robert asserted, “I don’t need 20 appraisers; I just need a few good people.” The results? “We can get a 442 within 24 hours, and total appraisal in 5 days or less, when the industry average is two weeks,” he stated.
In fact, with Pacific Funding, the entire process is extremely streamlined. “Where a Good Faith Estimate can take up to a week at some companies, we can do on the spot,” Robert explained. “Underwriting is done in 72 hours, conditions in 24 hours, loan docs 24 hours after that, and the funding package review 24 hours after documents are signed—it’s all about turn-time.”
But, he maintained, it’s also about doing things right the first time. “With us, you’re not going to miss close of escrow dates, you’re not going to get charged extra fees because your lock expired, and we‘re not going to waste your time with a loan that can’t close,” he said. “Plus, we often clean up others’ pre-approval messes.”
What it really gets down to, Robert believes, is making things go quickly and smoothly. “This business is already hard enough – we minimize the difficulties.”