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Tips On How To Choose Your Mortgage Policy: An Interview with First Chance Mortgage

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

First Chance Mortgage was started in 2001 by my Son Brian Coughlin with my backing. At the time I worked for a national lender and was planning on retiring within a few months of the start of the company. After I retired with 29 years from a National lender, I joined my son and in 2003 we incorporated our company. I am the president of the company and my son is the vice president. We moved the company from our home basement to our current location at 131 Lee Byrd Road in Early 2003. We named the company First Chance Mortgage originally to concentrate on 1st time home buyers who normally need additional information and direction when choosing a mortgage for their first time. We quickly realized that our services actually fit a broad spectrum of the public because of our personal attention we would give our clients and found out that the one on one experience our clients enjoy with our business model works well for experienced borrows as well as new clients.

What should I consider first upon choosing the right company to assist with my mortgage?

We feel client come to us because of our knowledge, honesty and personal touch we give during and after the loan process. We are very good at handling clients with challenged past credit issues in helping those that qualify get an affordable loan for a home. Our competitive pricing structure is also helpful for clients who can get approved at various lending institutions because of their high qualifications. Since our pricing is attractive and our service is one on one throughout the process, we attract those clients also. Bottom line, we deliver quality service and competitive mortgage loan products to all clients at all levels of qualifications. We have actually spent up to 18 months on working with some clients to get them in a qualified status for a home mortgage when no other company would even give them the time of day. One of my favorite sayings is "Do what is right.. when it is right.. and the right results will benefit the right clients..for a long time."

I am from a low-income family; do you have any programs that cater to my salary level?

In the mortgage arena, it is important that a client be able to afford their home along with all other monthly obligations that re-occur. A client should try to keep at least 3 months of cash reserves on hand for events that can come up that are not normal day to day costs of living. Low income family's have a challenge in this area and are cautioned not to buy more home then they can afford. Lenders have debt ratio limits in place to avoid clients being overburdened with an unaffordable payment monthly. A clients past payment history is a good indication of how a client can handle a payment on a home. Currently we have lenders that will accept a credit score as low as 580 to qualify for a home loan but there are additional underwriting restrictions for this low of a score. Low credit score does not always mean low income. I have been looking at credit files for more than 42 years and I always am surprised at a client who has a high income, abuse the credit process and either not pay bills promptly or try to avoid altogether. On the other hand, I see clients with low incomes who are responsible and timely with their pay habits. When we have a client like that, we try to get them into an affordable home as they deserve to be rewarded for doing the right thing. We do our best to make sure the loan is affordable and has no " future surprises" for our clients that will cause them to fail in payments.

What is the ideal percentage of my salary that my mortgage payments should take up?

While there is not and ideal percentage of a salary someone should use for a home mortgage, the industry would like to see mortgage payments, including taxes and insurance monthly not exceed 29% of the clients monthly gross pay. However, 29% of an income of $2000 per month vs. 29% of a monthly income of $20,000 per month does say that either client can afford or nor afford a home at those percentages. With the client at $2000 per month, they have $1420.00 per month remaining for utilities, groceries, insurance, transportation and state and federal taxes. With a client at $20,000 they have $14,200 remaining for the same items.. we all know you can only eat so much, drive so much, wash and heat so much per month. So the percentage can be misleading and therefore other approving features for a mortgage are used. Mainly, prior credit history and cash reserves , number of dependents, and other various factors. Bottom line, a client who gets a loan under today's credit standards can afford the home at the time they close their mortgage. Unforeseen circumstances after the loan is made can alter their ability to pay thus causing payments to become delinquent.

How do you help your clients decide which policy is right for them and their home?

At First Chance, we give our clients several options of payments depending on their situation. With low rates today, many clients are opting for 15 year mortgages vs. the traditional 30 year mortgage. those that can afford this type loan save thousands of dollars over the life of their loan.

Why should homeowners pick your company over similar agencies?

We find that the clients that choose our company like the very personal attention we offer. Since our company is small ( by design ) the client will usually speak to myself or my son in negotiation of the loan program. Due to my years in the industry, we have many resources and companies we work with to find our clients the best deal of the day on the open market. We shop for them using a process call "loan sifter" that will price loan scenario with hundreds of lenders at one time to find the one that best meets that clients needs. It is a little like looking for an airline ticket on line .. but for a mortgage.

What are some key qualities a new homeowner should look for in their mortgage consultant?

All new and prior homeowners should be getting at least 3 different scenarios before they decide on the lender they plan to use. They want to compare rates, NET closing costs, and terms when shopping. Rate of Charge vs. APR is the area to focus on. While APR is and indicator of overall costs, comparison to items looking at short term goals and long term goals are also important. Sometimes a higher rate may actually be more beneficial to a client than a lower mortgage rate.. depending on the cash flow and time line a client may be looking to live in a particular home. Again, getting options is the best way to shop. If you cannot get a hold of your loan officer when you call and you have to leave messages for a call to be returned the next day.. you may not be getting the best service. At our company, we do not have voicemail for a reason. We give our clients our work and cell numbers and we are expected to be available to them at all times. I believe we are successful in this area and that keeps us a notch ahead of the next company. We are easily contacted by phone or email and we have a web site that clients can refer to with updated pricing and information.

What is the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Phone contact is normally the best way to reach us. Our direct line is 678-957-6733.. our toll free number is 866-687-5026.

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Kristen has written impressive content including press releases and feature stories...

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