Mortgage originators are generally the only person a borrower interacts with when it comes to their mortgage; typically, the lenders are faceless entities behind a logo, a company name on the bottom of a mortgage statement.
Through a partnership with Rebuilding Together Boston, Mortgage Network Inc. proved that it not only has many faces, but also a heart, and helped rebuild the home of an elderly widow who had previously paid for home repairs that were never completed.
Brian Koss, executive vice president of Mortgage Network, said that getting involved in the community is clearly a benefit to local homeowners, but also to employee motivation as well.
“It’s nice when everyone gets a chance from behind the scenes, maybe people who aren’t customer-facing, get a chance to get out and meet the customers that they’re helping,” he said. People come back to the office reconnected with their work and what they do every day.
Employees and friends of Mortgage Network Inc. worked alongside members of the Massachusetts Mortgage Bankers Association to add safety modifications and exterior improvements to the home of Bernice, a 78-yaer old woman who suffers from lymphedema and was unable to safely move in or out of her residence.
This is the third year that Mortgage Network has partnered with Rebuilding Together, and they’ve also gotten involved with other housing-related endeavors such as working with veterans projects and Habitat for Humanity in various communities in the Carolinas, the mid-Atlantic region, and in Maine. Mortgage Network does a lot of rehab loans in New England particularly, where there’s such an old housing stock, and so they experience firsthand some of the pitfalls that go along with certain products—such as misconceptions about mortgage companies being involved with dishonest contractors.
“We have every incentive to want to do [a project] the right way because we are a lender . . . we know we’re on the hook, legally, through the life of that loan. So we have every reason to want this to be a good construction project,” he said. It’s the same thing with reverse, he added, where it’s not just about giving seniors money, it’s about setting them up for success later.
The alternative is being “the guy in the black trench coat”, he said, and no one wants to be that guy.
“You don’t want to be there as the family’s getting their stuff on the front lawn, it’s the worst. You get nightmares about it,” Koss aid. “You have to be able to put your head on the pillow at night and know you’re taking care of people and doing the right thing.”
Bernice and other past recipients of the program were identified through community outreach efforts, and local contacts then evaluate a recipient’s level of need and vet their application.
Koss said that after being in the local community for more than 30 years, and working side-by-side with realtors and builders is a way that everyone remembers that they’re just a collection of people and housing work isn’t as meaningful to anyone without that connection.
“What are we other than our people? We want to show our face in the community, and we give as much out of it as we give,” he said. “We don’t want it to be a file, we don’t want it to be just a number, and it brings it home there, so it really works for us both ways.”