Helping homebuyers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida find the right mortgages
Jonathan Kraus is the president of Philadelphia Mortgage Advisors. For over a decade, Philadelphia Mortgage Advisors has provided mortgage financing, processing, underwriting, and closing for homebuyers throughout the Delaware Valley, South Jersey, and Delaware. Through a trilateral focus on rates, service, and advice, the company secures the best possible terms for every client.
EDWIN WARFIELD: As a mortgage provider, how do you stay competitive against banks and other big players in the industry?
JONATHAN KRAUS: The rise in the independent mortgage bankers, such as Philadelphia Mortgage Advisors, stems partly from banks pulling out of the mortgage business. The compliance expense to comply with all the regulations—you know, Dodd–Frank, the SAFE Act I mentioned, TRID was a recent one—got very expensive, and a lot of the banks didn’t have the expertise to do it. Mortgage banking is a very, very esoteric industry. The knowledge that you have to have to run a mortgage company, and to do it well and be compliant, is a lot more than anyone who’s not in the industry would ever know. So, a lot of banks decided it was too risky to be in the mortgage business, so they pulled back. At the same time, the professionals inside the mortgage industry saw an opportunity to grab that market share and they were able to expand.
We compete because we have great people—a lot of people say, “we have great people,” but we really do have great people in our company—and you have to just stay focused. You can’t worry about what your competition is doing. You have to worry about what you do, and whatever you’re doing, you have to do it well. If you do it well and you take care of the customer, you’ll be able to compete.
At the end of the day, most of the lenders have essentially the same rate because Fannie Mae’s buying 90% of the mortgages in the United States. They’re setting the price every day for what mortgages are being bought and sold for. Having one aggregator of that size dominating the market, setting the price, there’s really not a big differentiation going to an online lender, going to a local bank, or even coming to somebody like us. So, what you really have to compete then on is basically your service, your delivery channel, being on time, being dependable, reliable, and being available. Our salespeople—we have 20-plus people, almost 25 salespeople—if you call them at 8:00 at night, more than likely they’re going to pick up their phone, or they’re going to reply to your text or your email.
We do business online. It’s not our only channel. I would say 80% of our business is still done through relationships, through past customers—that’s very key: basically a satisfied customer is going to refer you to their friends, are going to refer you to their family, and we have tens of thousands of past happy customers, so we’re constantly reaching out and touching those people that send us business.
We’re not in 20 different metro markets. This is our focus. And our goal is to make Philadelphia Mortgage Advisors the best lender in our area. That’s why we named it Philadelphia Mortgage Advisors, because we never had any intention of going to New York, or going to Florida or California. We just want to be the best in our market.
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