Senior loan officer, Bank of the Pacific, Seaside

“I moved to Seaside in 1966. I left to go to college and was hand-posting mortgage payments at Nevada National Bank in 1979. I’ve been in banking ever since. Most of that time has been in mortgage lending.”

Any misconceptions regarding real estate and home loan lending?

“It’s interesting. After the recent recession that we just came out of, prior to that I think everyone thought real estate was a really good long-term investment. And when you go through a recession — we did it in the 80s, and we just come out of this one — people then start looking at real estate like it’s not a long -term investment anymore, but it actually is even more so now. So, when you think about buying real estate, whether it be a residence or rental properties, it’s advantageous to think of it as a long-term investment, even more so prior to the recession.”

On best preparation, what do you take into account?

“Usually we’re going to look at a few qualifying issues. Usually it’s going to be some type of credit history, not necessarily the score so much as the history. We’re going to look at the income and longevity of the income, the history of their income. And also what they’ve been paying, for instance if they’ve been paying a large rent.”

How has lending evolved?

“People are much more knowledgeable now. They have access to a lot of information very quickly. And that’s a double edge sword because I think it’s advantageous for feeling informed, but it also can give you a lot of things that are one-sided. I think there’s a lot of good information out there, but there’s also a lot of misleading information.

“In 1979, they didn’t yet know how to process payments through machines. They had to take out all the checks from all the branches and actually hand post them to the accounts. Now they probably process millions of checks a night in every banking institution across the country.”

What’s unique about this area and customer base in regard to lending?

“We deal a lot with self-employed in Clatsop County. We also deal with a lot of joint households. You’ve got loggers, fishermen, most of whom are self-employed. Self-employed income is always interesting to analyze for lending. It’s interesting to put together the numbers of what someone actually makes versus what they show on their tax return. And the households are sometimes interesting. You have people that are taking in their grandchildren and raising them. They’re taking their parents back in the home. There’s programs out there that look at all of those type of income and try to use them in the lending process for qualification.”

Any particular stories?

“People are paying more for rent than what they would for a house payment — it’s crazy. I just talked to a young couple today that are paying $1,600 in rent, and the house payment they’re looking at is $1,200.”

Loan officer, Clatsop Community Bank, Astoria

How did you get started?

“As a graduate of OSU in Agricultural Economics I always wanted to be a lending officer for farmers, fisherman and forestry customers.

I spent several years selling agricultural equipment but always wanted to lend money for our local businesses including farmers, fisherman and loggers.

As I have lived in the community for 50-plus years the opportunity arose and I started my banking career four-plus years ago.”

How has it changed since you started?

“Probably the biggest change since I have been in banking has been the increase in regulation.

Compliance with regulation has made loan origination more difficult for all parties involved.

Unfortunately, this has had a significantly negative impact on small lenders who really had nothing to do with the financial crisis of 2008-10.”

What brings you the greatest satisfaction? Any particular stories?

“When I can help a local customer grow their business in a sound, sustainable manner.

I helped a young fellow who was a 4H student showing pigs at the local county fair with a great work ethic become an owner of a deep sea dragging fishing vessel along with permits.

I have helped numerous people build their dream home with a great construction loan product.”

Any common misconceptions about mortgage lending?

“We have restricted our mortgage lending to in-house non-consumer lending and construction due to regulatory pressures.

That said, we make all lending decisions locally and portfolio these loans so we have great flexibility for “make-sense” decisions.”

What aspects do you take into account when you work with a client on a individualized home loan plan?

“We want to make sure that our client has considered all aspects of a purchase or construction project.

We have a great amount of collective experience in the field and can often assist the client in avoiding unforeseen issues that commonly arise.”

What advice would you give someone looking to purchase their first home?

“Consider the costs outside the actual purchase such as taxes, insurance, deferred maintenance, HOA fees, and anticipated improvements to the new property.

Having cash reserves often can reduce the pressure of ancillary expenses associated with the transition to a new home.”

What’s the typical current mortgage rate?

“Rates can vary greatly depending on the product, term, and credit worthiness of the applicant.”

How does it compare to last year? Ten years ago? Twenty years ago?

“Rates have been coming down slightly but have been at or near historic lows for a few years now.”

How does the current sales frequency compare to previous year?

“Our data indicates the housing market is improving and is much stronger than a few years ago.

Construction activity has increased as well, and the rental market is very strong.”

Are mortgages easier/harder to obtain?

“Mortgages are easier to obtain than a few years ago, but likely will never be as easy to obtain as pre great recession. And that is probably a good thing as the poor quality of the underwriting of mortgages was a significant contributor to the great recession.”

Have you noticed any housing trends?

“We are seeing much more construction activity and sales of single-family residence homes are on the rise.

Prices have stabilized and are increasing in some areas.”

Anything you would like to add?

As the only truly locally owned and operated bank in Clatsop County, we enjoy having the flexibility to help our neighbors with all of their banking needs. It is very rewarding to help people one-on-one by making these decisions right here where we live and work

Loan officer, Raymond Federal Bank, Long Beach

How did you get started?

“I started lending 25 years ago. I was a mortgage broker. When the collapse happened in 2007-2008, brokers basically became non-existent. They went the way of the Dodo bird. There’s not many brokers around anymore. That’s when I moved over to working at a bank.

How has it changed?

“Banking is not what it used to be. With modern technology, you just don’t see the traffic in the branches like you used to.”

What aspects do you take into account when you work with a client on a individualized home loan?

“It’s always best to come get pre-qualified before shopping for a home. There are a number of items we look at including credit, assets and liabilities.”

Any advice for first-time borrowers?

Consumers need to be aware of their credit, keep their debt in check, have a down payment. If you’re renting, you want to be sure you have documentation of your rental history. You want to have money in the bank that’s seasoned, a good savings history. You’re looking at debt to income ratios, can they afford what they’re trying to buy?”

How does lending compare to last year? Ten years ago? Twenty year ago?

“When I started lending in the ‘90s, there were basically two types of loans. There was bank loans, like here, and then there were what we called “mouse houses”. These were basically small lending outfits, usually located in strip malls. So you basically had two choices: You either came to a bank or, if you didn’t qualify, people often went one of these other finance institutions that had very expensive, very high interest rates. Then the rise of the subprime market came on where banks and financial institutions created a middle to meet the demand of the people. I watched the rise of that, and then the collapse. I rode that wave with everybody else including consumers, banks and brokers. Everybody was borrowing money at the time. And then the collapse occurred in 2007-2008 when the subprime, that middle ground, disappeared. There really is no subprime any more, which is unfortunate because there are legitimate needs for subprime, but the market is just not there yet.”

“I would like to see it come back to some degree. Subprime was promoted by the government in a lot of ways to expand lending to get people into homeownership and banks/financial institutions found instruments and ways of doing that. But it got out of control, it was crazy what they were doing.”

“There is a place for subprime but it needs to be watched carefully, so it doesn’t get out of control again.

“Consumers were just as much to blame as anyone else. They were buying houses that they knew they couldn’t afford payments on. It was out of control.”

“Self-employed borrowers don’t necessarily have the documentable income,” but they have “all the other pieces of the puzzle”. I don’t know when or if it will come back, but I think there’s a place for it.”

How does the current sales frequency compare to previous year?

“It’s getting busier, especially here on the Peninsula. Last summer was the best lending season (spring to fall) we’ve had since I’ve started in 2009.

“This summer seems to be the same. It’s really picking up. I’ve done a number of construction loans which I hadn’t had in a long time, people weren’t building. People are buying homes and vacation properties and that’s a direct response from what happening in the major metropolitan areas on either side of us. When things are going good in those areas, they come looking for second homes and vacation properties. Seattle is booming, you can’t find a home for less than $350,000, and it’s trickling down to us at the beach, especially in the spring to fall lending season.

“When tourists are coming out and the beach is busy, that’s when loans really start going.”

How does getting a loan today compare to 10 years ago?

“It’s heavily regulated. The government has passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Loan officers need to be licensed now and so do banks. If you originate loans you have to go through background checks, have your fingerprints done and a license you have to renew each year. Down to the little things like that, all the way through new disclosures that have come out as recently as October. A lot more documentation is required. Back in the day, a customer could come in and just tell you what they earn, they didn’t have to provide documentation for it and lenders borrowed money on that. I look at loan files from seven or eight years ago, and they’re about half an inch thick. Today, they’re two or three inches thick. Everything has to be documented, and that’s good.”

Anything you would like to add?

“Lending is changing and will continue to change. We’re one of the last community banks around. We have three branches in Raymond, South Bend and Long Beach with 18 employees. The money that comes into this bank is lent out within the community, it stays here. We are a truly local bank.”

Loan officer, Wauna Credit Union, Warrenton

“I’ve been here since 2012. In August of 2015, I started doing the real estate financing.”

Assistant vice president of mortgage, Wauna Credit Union

“I started at Wauna 12 years ago in the Warrenton branch and then moved into the loan department over in Astoria. Then made my way up to Saint Helens. Right now I’m the assistant vice president of the mortgage department. I oversee the staff at all the branches.”

What misconceptions exist about financing for a first home?

“A lot of younger people coming in think that the process — that they can’t do it. That it’s a super hard process to buy a house. I think that’s the misconception — that people think it’s impossible to buy a house sometimes. It’s really not, especially working with the credit union. We’re giving the guidance to get to that point, we’re not just saying ‘no’ and sending you back.”

How has lending evolved?

“I’ve definitely seen a change. I’ve been doing it since 2004, I went through the crisis, people rebuilding their credit. The best thing right now is we’re seeing people starting to regain equity in their homes, which is allowing them to improve their current housing situation.”

What advice would give a first-time borrower?

“Come prepared with a budget. And not more so a “this is a house I want to buy.” Think more toward, is that monthly payment going to fit into your budget. If fixes come about, am I going to be able to afford these fixes? I think that’s the biggest thing, just having all that in mind.”

What’s the typical down payment?

“We can do as little as little as three percent. Typically it’s about three to five percent. With more first-time homebuyers we don’t see a lot in the way of down payment money because there are programs that offer 100 percent financing. But we encourage it, the more they put down the better their rate is going to be.”

On best preparation, what do you take into account?

“We want to make sure that they’re credit worthy. We want to make sure that they’re aware of monthly costs and closing costs.”

What’s the sales frequency compared to last year?

“Our borrowers definitely have to be more on their game. They have to have a pre-approval in hand. Since homes are selling so quickly, those borrowers that have worked hard to prepare themselves with us are the ones making the offer, and it’s accepted because they know they have all their ducks in a row.”

Typical time a house is on the market?

“They’re definitely selling faster. Being prepared is huge.”

How does it compare to 10 years ago?

“Rates are extremely lower right now.”

“Oh gosh, we were around 6-7 percent.”

Is there a typical mortgage rate?

“It varies depending on the program they’re doing. You have government program in the low 3-percent range, then you’ve got your conventionals that are higher 3’s — still great compared to what it’s been in years’ past.”

What’s the sales frequency compared to last year?

“Our borrowers definitely have to be more on their game. They have to have a pre-approval in hand. Since homes are selling so quickly, those borrowers that have worked hard to prepare themselves with us are the ones making the offer, and it’s accepted because they know they have all their ducks in a row.”

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