This week the LeverageRx team interviewed Stephanie Arcelay, loan officer and doctor loan specialist at SunTrust Mortgage. Stephanie was recently featured on the cover of Top Agent Magazine, a publication which features the nation’s best mortgage brokers, bankers and loan officers so we caught up with her to talk about doctor loans, mistakes doctors can make when purchasing their first home and the story behind her placement on the cover of Top Agent Magazine.

Q: TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR PATH TO BECOMING A LOAN OFFICER AND HOW YOU STARTED FOCUSING ON HELPING DOCTORS THROUGH THE DOCTOR LOAN PROGRAM

A: I started as a loan officer back in 2002. Being green to the business and not knowing a lot about mortgages I came in during the “refi boom” when interest rates were in the 6’s and everyone was going nuts. That was back when everyone was doing subprime. I am detail-oriented and sat down one day and looked at the whole catalog of loan programs we offered, studied a handful of products and got acclimated with the ins and outs of those programs to be able to speak about them to clients. One of those programs was the doctor loan and I thought it was amazing. On the business side it made it easier to hone in on marketing and reach out to doctors letting them know what we had.

Q: WHY DO YOU LIKE THE DOCTOR LOAN PROGRAM?

A: Clients are so appreciative because during their time of study it’s all focused on medicine. Medicine is their specialty and finance is typically not. Even today with all the information that is out there, many doctors think that they have to wait for the typical 20% down, so it’s very exciting to be able to offer a loan program that allows them to get in a house with less than 20%. Doctors typically have mountains of student loans and spouses and families to care for so it’s very rewarding to help them move into the next phase of their life. It’s very exciting for me to play a role in their life letting them know they don’t have to wait.
Financial advisors love the doctor loan program too. One of the biggest hurdles that financial advisors tell me about is early financial planning. Specifically, when doctors need to start thinking about life insurance and saving for IRAs they typically want to save to buy a house. So it’s great to be able to offer a mortgage product where they can do all of that from the beginning.

Q: WHAT MISTAKES, IF ANY, DO YOU SEE DOCTORS COMMONLY MAKING WHEN PURCHASING THEIR FIRST HOME?

A: The biggest mistake is working with a realtor or professional during the homebuying process that didn’t advise them about the different loan programs available to them. If the client didn’t find out about the doctor loan program on their own, sometimes realtors will introduce them to a preferred lender that doesn’t offer the product. A lot of times those lenders don’t have their own doctor loan programs and they push other types of loans that might not be a good fit. I don’t think other loan officers or realtors intentionally mislead them, they just don’t know the program exists. I had a doctor contact me the other week where they called saying they wanted a mortgage through the doctor loan program and needed to close quickly. I asked why are you just calling us now and she said that she just didn’t know the program existed until recently and the realtor didn’t know it existed either.

Q: WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF INFORMATION YOU COULD GIVE TO A YOUNG DOCTOR LOOKING TO PURCHASE A HOME?

A: Make sure that you’re working with qualified people. A lot of hospitals and group practices are starting to have their own preferred realtor, which is great because they are knowledgeable about the doctor loan programs. I highly encourage shopping around and talking to multiple people. Definitely have them research online to see the lenders and look at which doctor loan programs are available in your state. I wouldn’t just settle on the first bank you speak to and encourage speaking to multiple banks. If the rates and fees are the same, you are committing to that bank. Interview your loan officer. How quickly do they answer your question? Did they answer all your questions? Do they speak to you in a way that you understand or use bank lingo?

Q: YOU WERE JUST FEATURED IN TOP AGENT MAGAZINE. TELL US ABOUT WHY THEY SELECTED YOU FOR THEIR COVER AND HOW THAT CAME ABOUT.

A: I received an email earlier in the year from Top Agent Magazine. Once your previous year production numbers are published you get congratulations and different people reaching out to you, so Top Agent contacted me wanting to write a story about me. I was so excited about it and talked too much so they ended up writing too much for their original spot. Instead of trimming it down they ended up putting me on the cover and making it a cover story. So I guess it started out as a little story and then it took off from there. It made my dad cry because he was so happy. It was a little story that just grew!