Build a Winning Team to Sell or Buy Your Home!


Consumers Credit Union’s Gregg Teegardin, Gand Rapids mortgage market manager, and Mark Brace, principal and Owner of Brace Homes at Berkshire Hathaway, Michigan Homes and Real Estate, sit down with Lynne to discuss the hot housing market and the important, collaborative relationships between realtors and mortgage loan officers. Listen today to see how Consumers is working closely with local realtors to provide the best service to our members on “Money, I’m Home! Build a Winning Team to Sell or Buy Your Home!”



0:00:06.7 Lynne Jarman-Johnson (LJJ): Money, I’m home! Welcome, I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. We’re so glad to have you here. We have been talking about a hot, hot, hot housing market, and I’ll tell you what – It’s so hot that you need the experts in to help you cool it down a little bit, get a little bit relaxed and get that home. And for us today, we have the greatest professionals. I’m so excited because they’re going to tell you about building a team, and you think to yourself, “Well, you know what? All I really know is just I just need to find myself a realtor and be done with it, or I can do Zillow,” right? We are going talk today with experts that are just so in-the-know, and they have been working together for over 10 years. And what that means is they’re working together for you, the homeowner, and also the home seller. Today we have with us Mark Brace. He’s the principal and owner at Brace Homes at Berkshire Hathaway, Michigan Homes and Real Estate. It is an incredible opportunity to learn from the expert. We also have with us our own Consumers Credit Union guru. He’s the Senior Market Manager in Mortgages at Consumers Credit Union. Thanks so much for being with us, Gregg Teegardin.

0:01:17.8 LJJ: Thanks, you guys.

0:01:19.3 Gregg Teegardin (GT): Yes. Thanks for having us.

0:01:19.8 LJJ: Now I have a feeling that you’re more than just colleagues working together to help homeowners. It sounds to me like as we’ve been getting to know each other, that you’re friends too, which is a really cool thing. Gregg, tell us a little bit about how you first met.

0:01:33.4 GT: Well, it was back in my Founders Bank & Trust days, over 10 years ago, that Mark and I did our first deal together. It was a non-warrantable condo deal that I kind of carved out a niche for in the marketplace. Mark was looking for one of his buyers into a condo that was deemed non-warrantable, and I had a product for him. The rest is history.

0:01:57.6 Mark Brace (MB): Yeah, pretty much. It was funny when you brought that question up, I’m just thinking to myself like, “Jeez, that was so long ago. It’s hard for me to almost remember.”

0:02:05.2 LJJ: Well, tell me something. How do you guys figure out… You just said non-warrantable, and for a homeowner or someone who’s looking for a house, what does that even mean?

0:02:15.4 GT: Yeah, so non-warrantable just means that your standard conventional financing, you can’t do that type of property. A non-warrantable condo means the development itself doesn’t meet the criteria for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. They have a long list of guidelines that you have to meet, and a lot of them don’t. A lot of the newer ones don’t, so I need to find a bank, credit union that can do them, and we do them at Consumers as well. That’s something I’ve always made sure I have in my back pocket because that comes up more often than not, especially for condos downtown, Grand Rapids, the majority of those developments are deemed non-warrantable.

0:02:53.8 LJJ: Mark, when you first met Gregg, if you back up the bus here a little bit, what is interesting to me is that right now we are at the hottest market, and it sounds to me like you both really understand that there’s ways that you can listen to what the buyer’s need is, listen to what the seller’s need is and try to find a path that works. Is that true, Mark?

0:03:17.3 MB: There’s not a one-shoe-fits-all setup for anybody. Everyone’s unique and different, has their unique challenges, and so depending on if they’re a buyer or a seller, just making sure that you’ve got them aligned with all the right stuff to make the process smooth. So, whether it’s the lender, whether it’s like, what’s the path for them to move. Do they have to sell first to buy? Can they buy before selling? Is it a bridge loan? Just kind of figuring out what works best for them, creating the path and navigating the process. I wish there was a one-shoe-fits-all like, “Hey, this is just how we do it,” and then it would be easy. But you got to turn to your professionals to help like, “Hey, there’s lots of options. There are many ways to do it. What’s going to be right for us?”

0:04:10.2 LJJ: So, Mark, how important is the mortgage loan officer partnership in that realm? People always… They know what a realtor is, and they know that, “Hey, I’m going to reach out to Mark, he’s my guy.” But they may not in the back of their minds go, “I know exactly that I need a mortgage loan officer, one that I know and I can trust.”

0:04:30.5 MB: There’s a lot involved with having a really great mortgage lender. The reputation that they carry within the real estate industry is extremely helpful when a realtor is sitting down with a seller and evaluating five, 10, 20, 40 offers. How do they know the right ones to pick? And if you can share your insight and experience about previous times you’ve worked with these companies, it can help sell or make a decision, say, “Hey, this is a great mortgage company. They’re local.” It definitely… It carries a lot of weight. If a mortgage company has a great reputation and the local realtors know that, it’s extremely helpful when you’re presenting offers on a property and/or evaluating them.

0:05:26.7 LJJ: So, you have worked with Gregg, our Mortgage Loan Officer at Consumers now for 10 years. Tell me about how important that type of a relationship is, not just on the buyer-seller side, but just for you. You’ve just mentioned trust. It seems to me that’s huge.

0:05:44.3 MB: Yeah, I mean, if Gregg says someone’s good to go like I don’t even have to question it. He’s like, “They’re good.” I’m like, “Alright.” And that’s it. I don’t even have to worry. There’s nothing else. Gregg is like, “They’re good.” “All right, great, we’re good.”

0:06:00.9 LJJ: And Gregg, is it the same way? Is it a two-way street there?

0:06:04.8 GT: Oh yeah, yeah, definitely. It’s just about asking the right questions up-front. I know that Mark does a great job of preparing them before he sends them my way on what kind of questions I may be asking, what’s going to help get the deal done. But it’s very important and critical to spend the time either on the phone or… We have a great application at Consumers that’s very thorough, you don’t want to have a curve ball later on in the process, three weeks deep, something that you missed, that causes the deal to go south and now you got some people that are pretty upset with you.

0:06:39.4 LJJ: Well, and here, that then brings back the home buyer or the home seller, and when you talk about getting a deal closed on time, I can’t remember a time where it has been so crazy, in the sense of, people are now selling their houses and saying, “We’re going to do the open house and we’re going to take the offers until six o’clock,” and that’s it. I mean, it’s just a crazy time. How do you work with the home buyer and the home seller to really give a sense of, here’s the direction, here’s what you must have in advance, let’s make sure we can get this deal done?

0:07:16.2 GT: Again, it’s about, call them the three C’s, which is going through their credit, seeing if there’s any potential hurdles there to overcome. We do have a great system, if somebody’s off by 10 points from getting approved or being able to get even a little bit better of an interest rate, I’m able to put them through this credit repair system, and within a week’s time, they can get scores boosted, so that’s big. Income is a huge factor, so just making sure that they know that, they stay with their current employer throughout the closing. They’re self-employed, going through that side of things, making sure they’re good to go. Generally, we need a two-year history on that, so… And then of course, the down payment, we have some great zero-down products at Consumers that a lot of other institutions don’t offer, we’re unique in that way. You can get certain buyers closed that may not have the means to get the loan done with another lender, so it’s all about the due diligence up-front, asking the right questions and following up.

0:08:19.0 LJJ: Well obviously, then, the homeowner or the home seller both really need to know who their team is. Mark, how important is that?

0:08:28.0 MB: When you kind of get into the process, it seems easy, like you pick a house and then you’re done, and that’s totally the beginning. That’s like picking a football team at the beginning of the game, but then now, you got to play the game. [chuckle] The whole thing is, is the managing that 30 days or so, everything that has to take place, if a lender doesn’t have the mortgage done in time, I don’t think a lot of people realize they literally can lose the home. There’s no law that says that a seller has to extend a purchase agreement, so if you’re working with a lender that can’t guarantee, or you don’t have the confidence that they’re going to get it done in time, you could potentially lose the house over the lender you chose, let alone, you’re coordinating so many things in life, like utilities and movers and everything else that you have to do, there’s so many little problems that can happen if things just don’t go the way they’re supposed to go. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have that confidence in your team that they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do, so that you can go from start to finish as easy as possible.

0:09:41.3 GT: Yeah…

0:09:42.9 LJJ: So, 10 years is a long time that you have worked together, Gregg, tell us about maybe one of the most memorable experiences that you had.

0:09:51.5 GT: Yeah, so actually one of my neighbors, was a New Zealander and he had to move back to New Zealand, so he had to go there and his family was still here, his wife and kids, and one of the supposed top realtors had their home listed – It wasn’t Mark, but had their home listed for six months that they were under contract, and I would drive by every day and see the sign and surprised a beautiful house hadn’t sold. So, then we ended up at a block party together and was chatting with them, they knew I was in mortgages, and they’re unhappy with their house hadn’t sold yet, and they’re getting down to the wire of, everything had to be lined up for wife to join him, so I referred him to Mark. Thankfully, the listing expired with the previous realtor, Mark gave him some tips on what to do with the house. They did it, they listened to him, and in two weeks, he had the house sold, he had a For Sale sign out there. [chuckle]

0:10:50.8 LJJ: Wow.

0:10:51.2 GT: Speaks volumes, and I can’t tell you how many times that’s been the case with Mark.

0:10:54.9 LJJ: You’re blushing over a podcast, Mark, it’s crazy to see.

0:10:58.3 MB: Now that he brings that up, I remember, yeah. He was leaving the country, so we were working on getting embassy appointments lined up in New Zealand, and…

0:11:07.8 LJJ: Well, but doesn’t that speak to that extra attention that is needed for any homeowner or buyer? It’s excellent customer service, it’s the service that goes above and beyond, and it just happens to be in what is someone’s number one hoped-for dream, is their home, so it’s an amazing journey. Hey Gregg, quickly, what do you think are the most important things right now in such a hot market? You said in the last three years, it’s been this way, A, do think it’s going to cool off? People say possibly, I don’t know.

0:11:44.1 GT: No, I mean, Mark can speak to this too, but the inventory just continues to shrink out there, of homes that are listed. The supply is just not there, but the demand is crazy high still, especially with COVID. We have a lot of people returning to Grand Rapids that were in bigger cities want to get back close to family with everything going on, but yeah, I don’t foresee it cooling off any time soon. We need more listings, the ones that we have, you got to have a great team working with you. You got to have somebody that’s reputable, that’s got a name in the market, because the listing agents are weighing in on that heavily. When they have 30 offers in front of them, if they have a pre-approval letter from an out-of-state lender that they’ve never worked with before, it’s hard for them to advise their seller to take that deal. We take that seriously, we take that closing date at Consumers, I take it very seriously. We got to hit that mark, it means everything.

0:12:38.1 LJJ: And Mark, what do you think is the greatest tip someone who is considering either listing their house or making that change, what should they have in their mind during this time, especially if they’re trying to buy also, or are going to go into the market to purchase something new?

0:12:54.0 MB: Well, I don’t know if I can sum everything up into one of the greatest tips, there’s so many different things you can talk about, but I think what I would say is, in this market, really trying to figure out what your path is, is probably the most important. Whether or not you can buy before you sell, if you have to sell to buy, and if you have to sell to buy, do you have a temporary living arrangement in place, apartment, family, friends, something? The bridge loan has been a really popular product because as the perception in the market is that selling’s not as challenging as buying, it’s a lot harder to find where you’re going to go, so there’s a lot of fear and like, “Well, I don’t want to put my home on the market because I don’t know where I’m going to go.” And that bridge loan is a really cool product. It’ll allow them to buy first and then we can sell. And in the meantime, part of the whole strategy is, if we move them in a bridge loan pattern and we’re going to be having to buy first, that whole period of time, whether it’s one to six to 12 months, we’re spending all that quality time doing what we need to do to the house to prepare it for top dollar.

0:14:13.6 MB: I think preparation is something that a lot of people don’t focus on as much as they should. The strategy is probably the most important thing, and really just kind of focusing on like, “What’s the path for me?” And then I think what I’m saying is already coming with a level of expertise to it but making sure that you are aligning yourself with amazing professionals that have been there, have done that, and this is not necessarily their first rodeo, and they can guide you through all the hurdles.

0:14:50.0 LJJ: Gregg, how important is the team behind you at Consumers? You mentioned that target date, and it sounds to me like there’s a lot of moving pieces to get that lending not only on the books, but hitting the right date.

0:15:05.4 GT: Yeah, having the right team behind, especially as a mortgage lender, is everything. I have Sarah Marlowe as my loan assistant. She gets us from A to B. I bring the deals in the door, get things locked in with the rate, make sure we have everything set in the system the right way, and then she gets the documents put together. So, we always have that closing date in mind down the road, and we have target dates prior to that that we’re trying to hit, for getting the appraisal in by and getting all the client’s docs.

0:15:34.8 LJJ: So, last question. The pandemic shuts down the world, and all of a sudden open houses for a while were not open houses, they were closed. How important has technology and the growth of technology… We have the Consumers Credit Union fast app mortgage… How important has that become? Has that been a game changer for documents and finding the documents and keeping them all in one place?

0:16:01.5 GT: Yeah, absolutely. Through my web page, I’m able to send a link to buyers where they can go right on and input all their information. Some people still prefer to have the conversation on the phone, which can take 15 minutes on average. Preferably we have them go into the fast app just because they’re able to put in their authorize the credit to be pulled, everything can be done right there and then. Within 10 minutes of them going in, it’s very user-friendly. Haven’t had anyone have issues with getting on there and putting their info. As soon as they complete it, I get a trigger email text that it’s done. I just go on there, check the credit, see if it’s good, see if there’s any potential hurdles that I see with their employment information or residency. Then I’ll either send them a quick email or text, and we’re off and running. They can upload all their documents right there as well with their pay stubs and W2s, so they don’t have to come into the office and bring in a stack of paperwork with them.

0:16:56.7 LJJ: And, Mark, on your end, the video technology that is new, the making sure that you can see a home that you’re trying to present… Wow. What a change.

0:17:07.9 MB: Yeah, it didn’t do a whole lot in my office because we were already doing everything electronically, and digital and video home tours and stuff if we needed it, but it just kind of forced us to do a little bit more of it. There’s nothing that… They’re not going to ever change the fact of the importance of the putting the buyer in the home because the intrinsic feel that they have, I don’t think that’s ever really going to get replaced because I don’t think you can artificially generate like, “Hey, this is the house for me.”

0:17:43.1 LJJ: It sounds just like relationships. We can do all of this as we can via Zoom, and we can all do non-face-to-face, but it really is the face-to-face and those personal relationships that make things happen, not only personally, but also professionally, and the both of you have proven that, so thank you so much for sharing your time today and your expertise.


0:18:08.6 GT: Yes, thanks for having us.

0:18:09.1 MB: Yeah, thank you.


0:18:11.9 LJJ: Hey, everybody, I’ll tell you what. Home buying is it, and we’ll be glad to help you with any of the questions that you have. Just contact us at Consumers, and don’t forget, you can also send a topic or an expert our way. We’d love to talk with them. I’m Lynne Jarman-Johnson with Consumers Credit Union. Thank you, Jake Esselink, for all of your production skills, and I hope everybody has a safe and a happy week this week.



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