Back in March, as the pandemic was starting to shut life down across the U.S., Mary Catchur of Marimark Mortgage was worried about what that would mean for her business. She was preparing for the worst.
But, in a way it seems no one predicted, from April through September, there was a huge uptick in people buying new homes, relocating, and refinancing their existing homes, even while Mary says the financial markets were reacting extremely erratically to the spread of Covid-19.
People were hearing that rates were at all-time lows, but lenders were concerned about risk and tightening many restrictions.
“It was a crazy time,” Mary says. “Our phones were ringing off the hook.”
Mary first opened Marimark Mortgage in the Tampa Palms Professional Center off Commerce Park Blvd. in 2006. She says the summer months of 2020 ended up being her busiest season in years — and that has allowed her company to shine, doing what they do best.
“As a small business, we could react quickly to changes that were going on and run our business efficiently,” she says. “People were calling their bank, and the bank was telling them they were too swamped to help, or it would take up to 90 days to close.”
She adds that when someone comes to Marimark for a home loan, they are offered the same or better mortgage products as the big banks. But, they also receive a wealth of information, and are generally able to close much more quickly than they would with the big banks. In fact, Mary says they were still closing most loans within 30 days. She even had one loan — through a VA loan program — that was cleared to close in four days with a 2.375% interest rate.
Mary is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who spent 13 years as an auditor for KPMG (Klynveld, Peat, Marwick & Goerdeler), one of the “Big Four” U.S. public accounting firms, which was founded in The Netherlands. Then, she was the chief financial officer for an internet-based real estate company, in which she established a mortgage division.
As a CPA, Mary understands her clients’ income and tax returns. Her broad financial background helps her clients, especially those with special circumstances — such as being self-employed, or retired and living off of their assets.
She says other companies may not know how to structure a loan for those clients, because they don’t have the financial background to understand the nuances of the process.
Marimark offers a complete line of financing options, such as conventional loans, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans and loans through the Veterans Administration (VA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Mary is a Pennsylvania native who grew up helping out at her family’s electrical business, but she has called Tampa home since 1979.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees in Accounting and French from the University of South Florida (USF) and currently maintains her mortgage broker’s license in Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Her background also allows her a much better understanding of the entire mortgage process.
When you call a bank, for example, the person who takes your application may not have a deep understanding of the underwriting process. Mary says many people who came to her this summer had gotten an initial approval from their bank, but when the loan went to underwriting, there was something that kept it from being approved.
She understands the frustration of being told your loan isn’t approved weeks into the process, and says that hardly ever happens with Marimark.
“Maybe two times in 14 years something has come up in underwriting that I didn’t foresee,” she says, “which is completely the opposite of what I hear happens at the banks.”
Now, she says, she is grateful the craziness of the summer is behind her. She says the industry has stabilized and approval guidelines have loosened.
“Right now is a great time to get financed to buy,” she says. “Rates are still at all-time lows, people can still get loans, and we can help them.”
Education & Support
Ryan Schleich and his wife Summer bought a home in Tampa Palms in August. Three weeks later, they welcomed the newest member of their family, baby Nolan.
While expecting a child and renting, the couple decided to buy a home, and Ryan found Marimark Mortgage through a Google search.
“She was located right around the corner,” he says, “and it didn’t look like a large shop, so I thought there would be a personal touch.”
He says Marimark Mortgage went well beyond his expectations in not only that personal touch but with everything else, too.
“We are first-time homeowners and it was absolutely overwhelming,” Ryan says. “I previously worked in foreclosures, so I knew the process, but doing it on my own would have been hectic and anxiety-ridden. Mary was very organized, went through options of different programs, and explained the different types of mortgage and loans. She was very informative — even before we agreed to work with her.”
Mary encourages anyone who is considering buying a home to do a Google search for her company. She says a quick read through the many positive reviews will help you — like it did Ryan — understand how she treats her customers.
“My approach is straightforward and educational,” Mary says. “When I got into the business, I saw a real need to educate people so they would know why the product they were getting was better for them.”
Mary says she shouldn’t be the one choosing a loan product for a client, but it’s important for her clients to be fully educated about their loan. For example, maybe you’ve been offered a low rate, but do you know what fees you have to pay to get that rate?
“Maybe the most important thing to you is getting the lowest possible payment,” she explains, “or maybe it’s paying the least amount of money over the life of the loan, but we need to talk about your entire scenario and what your goals and needs are.”
Mary also is proud that Marimark offers a streamlined, efficient process, with great communication. She uses technology to her clients’ and her company’s advantage, such as, for example, automatic notifications every step of the process.
“Communication, particularly through Covid, has been key,” Mary says. “We have to be up to date on what’s happening, and we constantly communicate to our clients how that affects them.”
Marimark Mortgage is located at 5327 Primrose Lake Cir. For more info, visit MarimarkMortgage.com, call (813) 910-8020, or see the ad on page 31 of this issue.