In this phase of distance-everything, you’re likely to be shopping for homes, realtors, and lenders online. Once you’ve entered your contact information into an online form, you’ll start getting a lot of phone calls and texts, maybe even emails. They tend to read like this:
“Thank you for your mortgage loan inquiry. Give us a call at XXX-XXXX to continue with your application. We’re confident that you’ll find XX’s rates, loan options, and dedicated experts will exceed your expectations.”
With several similarly worded texts or emails, how do you know which lender would be right for you? “You’ll want to work with someone who’s knowledgeable and helpful. A loan officer who you can trust and will have your best interest at heart,” says Grant B. LaClave, a Military Mortgage Advisor (MMA) in the Addison, Texas branch office of AAFMAA Mortgage Services (AMS). “And keep careful notes, because not all lenders are the same; not at all.”
If you indicated on the online form that you or your spouse are current or former military, one of the texts or emails you receive may be from AMS. Based on the location of the home you plan to purchase or refinance, we’ll route you to an AMS MMA licensed to do business in your new location. (AMS is licensed to do business in 28 states where there is a high concentration of military residents.)
All of our MMAs are licensed loan officers, also called mortgage loan originators, and many have a military background. They are experienced with VA Home Loans — which comprise about 90% of our business — but offer other products, too, including conventional loans, FHA loans, and USDA loans. Your advisor will ask you about your mortgage goals — where you plan to buy, your timeframe, your price range, how long you think you’ll stay in the home. Your answers will help us work with you on next steps.
“We’ll take the time to understand your situation and build a rapport with you,” says LaClave, an avid sportsman and chef who’s lived many places in the U.S. “Usually we can find a hobby or location in common to get to know each other.”
“First-time buyers, especially, will have a lot of questions. You want a lender who “gets you” and your goals. We will explain the process, find out your needs, answer your questions, and see if our company would be a good fit for you.”
LaClave, who’s been in the mortgage business for 16 years and joined AMS in 2020, makes several points to help new customers understand the loan process and what makes AMS unique.
First, AAFMAA, the parent company of AMS, is the longest-standing non-profit association exclusively serving the U.S. military community. AAFMAA supports military families and Veterans with advice, information, insurance, financial planning, investments, mortgages, survivor assistance and other benefits.
So when it comes to mortgages, AMS takes a unique “members first” approach. “I tell them AMS is unique because we don’t ask for an upfront fee to work up their offer or for them to pay for the appraisal,” he says. “We are willing to do all of that in partnership with the borrower to help them achieve what they want.”
Other lenders will charge an application fee plus a fee to pull your credit upfront in order to see your current monthly and long-term debt before they decide to work with you. They will then charge you again for an appraisal once the loan is underway rather than pay at closing for both. “[AMS doesn’t] do that because we consider ourselves to be partners with our customers. We want to help them with their immediate home-buying or refinancing needs and we want them to become Members and stay with us.”
“We understand how vital it is for members of the military community to get the support they need and deserve for putting their lives on the line every day. That’s why [AMS gives] you 100% of our time and attention in return. We want to recognize and reward [your] individual or family’s service to our country, and we want to be able to give [you] the service, products, and experience [you] deserve,” says LaClave who personally handles three to six loans each month as part of a team (including a customer care representative and loan processor) that will be assigned to you.
Yes, you may hear from a lot of lenders, and they may tell you about a lot of bells and whistles. But when it comes to finding a lifelong financial partner who will always have your back, you’ll want to respond to AMS.
For assistance with a mortgage to build, buy, or refinance a home, contact AMS online or give us a call at 844-218-6926.