Patton Gade was only a few weeks into his tenure as an originator when he saw the impact that mortgage lending can have on a person’s life. He was doing a cash-out refinance for a single mom with enough debt that she was close to missing her payments each month. Initially, he thought the appraisal would be high enough to consolidate most but not all of her debt. When the appraisal came back, Gade was thrilled.
“I got to call her and say, ‘Hey, your appraisal came back $25,000 higher than we thought it would. We’re going to be able to pay off all your debt and, if you want, I can even give you an extra 10 grand,’” Gade said. “And she burst into tears and said, ‘Oh, my gosh, I owe my mom 10 grand.’”
Gade closed that loan on the 23rd of December, and that mom’s life changed forever. A couple of years later, she sold her home and bought a new one, and Gade helped her with that loan too. “That’s what hooked me on mortgages,” he said. “I realized, ‘I can help people. Wow, this is amazing.’”
He said he’s still dedicated to helping people and remains available around the clock for his clients. His business has grown significantly through word-of-mouth client referrals, and his goal is to become each client’s “mortgage guy,” the way they’d have a trusted tax professional or mechanic. He now originates in 49 states, and many of his clients are active-duty military who uproot their lives and families for permanent changes of station.
“There’s all this uncertainty, and what they don’t need is for me to give them more stress because I didn’t pick up my phone or I didn’t answer a text message,” Gade said. “So, I tell them, if it’s Saturday night and you have a question, don’t lose sleep for two nights. Just shoot me a text message.”
Gade, an Army veteran, learned that he took out a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loan for his first home purchase only after becoming a mortgage originator. Once he started learning about these products, he realized he “spoke the language” of military borrowers and VA loans soon became his specialty. Being part of the community of these borrowers earns him an automatic level of trust with his clients, he said.
VA loans are burdened with misconceptions, he noted. For one, the VA loan program wasn’t always a lifetime benefit. Before 1970, VA loan eligibility expired after 10 years. Gade said veterans who served before this change are often unaware that they’re still eligible. Additionally, Gade said there’s a belief in the mortgage business that VA loans are more difficult to close, or are more likely to be denied, than conventional loans.
Gade disagrees and believes that most VA loans that get denied are because the guidelines weren’t followed correctly. The blame then gets placed on the “big, bad government agency,” even though the VA likely never saw the loan. “As a matter of fact, the VA loan gives me so many more options as an originator to fix problems if they arise,” Gade said. “The big myth is that VA loans are so much more difficult.”
He also said originators and Realtors shouldn’t be afraid of VA appraisals, because they’re done by regular appraisers and only add a couple extra commonsense items to the checklist — such as peeling paint, exposed wiring, contaminated well water and termites. “I just feel like it’s gotten a bad rap,” Gade said. “The No. 1 benefit of having served in the military is your VA loan benefit, hands down. We have something like 20 million veterans in the United States and only something like 13% have used their VA loan. I mean, it’s kind of a travesty.” ●
Tips of the Trade
I think the important thing is that you get into groups that you have an affinity with. And it doesn’t really matter what that affinity is. I’m around military people all the time and it leads to a lot of VA loans. Just be involved in things where you’re rubbing shoulders with people that have some of the same interests as you. Be vocal and let people know, “Hey, I do mortgages.” It’s a combination of the affinity group and making sure that people understand that this isn’t a just a transaction; it’s a relationship that you want to carry forward.