Meet Evan Wade – Veteran Housing Advocate
Evan Wade – Expert Interview
Evan Wade is a professional mortgage loan officer, and valued member of our Expert Network. He is a Broker/Owner at Philadelphia Mortgage Brokers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Evan is also one of the foremost experts of VA underwriting guidelines, and a passionate Veteran Housing Advocate.
Our primary goal with the Expert Interview series is to shine a light on professional problem solvers that have chosen the mortgage industry as their career.
If you have ever had the unfortunate experience of getting tricked into working with a call center mortgage lender, you will notice a night and day difference when talking to a professional loan officer like Evan Wade.
We believe that once you are introduced to experts like Evan, you will be empowered with the knowledge of how a true professional works.
Armed with Evan’s knowledge and experience, you can better avoid the trap of big box lenders and telemarketers that just want to run your credit first, then answer questions later!
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If you are like most people that visit this website, you’ve got a mortgage problem or an unanswered question and you’re having trouble getting answers.
We are here to help you get the right answer, the first time, and connect you with an experienced loan officer that can help if necessary.
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Scott Schang: Welcome, everybody, to another expert interview here at FindMyWayHome.com. I am Scott Schang, founder and … I don’t know, head guy over here at Find My Way Home. Today I’m actually really excited. I’ve got Evan Wade here who is have mortgage broker out in Philadelphia area and the whole purpose of these interviews is I want you as a consumer to … This is your opportunity to kind of be a fly on the wall and see what real experts, real professionals, people that have chosen to be a mortgage professional and take this stuff seriously.
Everything you see on TV, everything you hear on radio, these big box lenders, I call them tele-mortgagers because if you call that number you’re going into a telemarketing room with some 20-year-old kid that’s reading stuff off of a screen and has no clue on who you are and that doesn’t care. His job is to meet sales quotes and meet sales numbers. It’s literally the difference between going to the neighbor and getting a bandaid or going to a surgeon if you have a major issue with your health. It really is.
Evan, welcome. Thanks for being here today.
Evan Wade: Thanks for having me on.
Scott Schang: Yeah, absolutely. My story is similar and almost everybody in our situation, these mortgage professionals, I’m yet to meet one that said, “You know what,” when they were a kid, they said, “I want to grow up and be a loan guy. I want to do mortgages.” My first question is how did you get here? How did you end up being a mortgage person?
Evan Wade: I was working at a hotel bar, everything kind of deal on the beach in Avalon, New Jersey and I’m planning on going to college. I had already been in a semester or two of community college and I had plans to go away to college but I wanted to have a better job on my resume than just working in a bar like everybody else does. I was thinking ahead when I was going to apply for jobs out of college. I thought that was better, that I’d have a professional job on my resume so I applied as a part time seasonal teller at what was then Commerce Bank, which was later bought by TD Bank and I liked it right away. I’ve always been interested in finance. I just didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do-
Scott Schang: You’re a little bit of a nerd.
Evan Wade: Oh yeah, yeah. Definitely.
Scott Schang: Another common trait that I’ve discovered.
Evan Wade: Yeah, from a really young age my parents were small business owners so I tagged along with my mom when she made deposits in the bank and it always kind of intrigued me and I couldn’t really put a finger on it so I applied for that job as a part time seasonal teller, just for summer because I was in a seasonal area and they needed the help. I did that and they brought a new manager in, guy by the name of Scott, and he took a liking to me and saw that I had the motivation to do well in the banking industry so he promoted me six months into my job to customer service rep and right about that same time, TD decided that they wanted to make a push on mortgages so this would’ve been in about 2009, right as everything was at the bottom.
Scott Schang: After the crash, okay.
Evan Wade: Yeah and the refi boom was just about to start. Maybe they had the foresight that that was going to happen so they allowed us as inexperienced bank employees to originate mortgages. Since I am not a sales guy, never was. I am that nerdy type, I can’t talk small talk and ask how your kids are doing and all … The way I made up for it is being a guideline expert. There was no training at all for mortgages. Nobody taught me the mortgage business at all. I am 100% self taught. I got a one-day class to teach you how to take an application, what the difference of a conventional and FHA and VA loan was. That was it.
Then I found the mortgage guidelines myself on the internet and I literally read them from cover to cover and I’ve been doing that for my entire eight-year mortgage originating career now.
Scott Schang: That’s really common. I find that with a lot of people that I really hold on a high pedestal as real experts and real professionals that are really passionate about what they do is they’re really just guideline geeks. They don’t want to take no for an answer. You want to understand why for everything.
Evan Wade: I do feel like we’re in an industry that is just dominated by sales and making sales and churning and burning and there’s definitely, I think there’s a place for that. There are savvy consumers out there that maybe they don’t need as much advice but I think most, probably I would say at least 80% of consumers want a expert, somebody who knows what they’re talking about, can answer questions and you don’t have to worry about calling an 800 number, getting a different person every time. All my borrowers have my personal cell phone number. Friends with most of them on Facebook. I’ve got multiple borrowers right now that the only way I talk through them is through Facebook Messenger.
Scott Schang: You’ve said you’re not salesy but you seem like you make a really good connection with your clients over a shared goal of obviously helping them out and that’s kind of another trait that I find is there’s a lot of empathy in how you approach your business. You really kind of connect with the human side of the story.
Evan Wade: At the end of the day, most almost nine out of 10 people, when they’re buying a home, whether they’re first time home buyer or buying their sixth home, they’re nervous. They want guidance. They’re making the single biggest purchase of their life.
Scott Schang: There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot more than people understand. TV commercials like to try to make it seem like you can do a loan application but …
Evan Wade: Hey, yeah-
Scott Schang: … the guidelines are about 2,000 pages long each.
Evan Wade: I have that same digital mortgage application pretty much that Quicken does. I am still leveraging tech the same way that these multi-million-dollar companies are and I place-
Scott Schang: The difference is you’re on the other side of that tech and not a telemarketer.
Evan Wade: Exactly. The tech is only there to be more efficient as far as me not having to be on the phone with you for … I’ll take an application over the phone but I think it’s silly to sit on the phone for half an hour just repeating social security numbers and date of births back and forth, making sure it’s correct, making sure I don’t make a typo, that kind of thing. The borrower knows their information so that’s why I prefer online applications but then if I have questions, which I normally do, that’s when I have that personal touch with the borrower.
Scott Schang: In kind of today’s environment, it’s just about convenience. You don’t have to work on Evan’s time. You work on-
Evan Wade: Oh yeah. I get applications-
Scott Schang: Yeah, they might be doing it at two o’clock in the morning because they’ve-
Evan Wade: I’m still awake sometimes at midnight, one o’clock in the morning and I get an email application, application submit and I don’t want to talk to people at one o’clock in the morning. I have a VA loan in process right now for a guy that’s stationed in Okinawa, Japan right now so I am talking to him at crazy hours because they’re 13 hours ahead of me.
Scott Schang: Hey, give me a call when you get up and it’s tomorrow. Whatever is good for you.
Evan Wade: Exactly.
Scott Schang: Okay. You’re about six months in. You got an opportunity. You nerded out on a bunch of guidelines. When did it click for you? When did you know that, man, I’m hooked, this is my thing?
Evan Wade: I learned the business doing refinances and I found that people were very thankful and excited about saving money on a monthly basis. I’m like, “This is kind of strange. It just doesn’t seem like something that that’s exciting,” but people loved it and that’s how I did the bulk of my first mortgages or refinances in Ocean City, which is a beach town. It was a pretty complicated way to learn the business, too, because almost all those properties were two-unit condos. I’m sure-
Scott Schang: Oh, wow.
Evan Wade: All of the mortgage people that are going to be listening to this will be like, “Oh, man. ”
Scott Schang: I feel for you.
Evan Wade: It’s a really trial by fire kind of way to learn the business. That’s for sure. Once I started getting into purchases, which wasn’t until really 2015, I left retail banking in November 2014. Money wasn’t good. Working all kinds of hours. I made it up to assistant manager, managing 17 people and the stress was just too much for too little money and I thought I was going to get out of banking altogether so I got a job at this corporate compliance company that we basically sold state registration renewals, [inaudible 00:10:35] kind of stuff and it was-
Scott Schang: Still kind of in the business.
Evan Wade: I did very well in it but it was boring and I knew after two, three months that it-
Scott Schang: It was all the geek without the connection, right?
Evan Wade: Yeah.
Scott Schang: There really was nothing personal, there’s no personal [inaudible 00:10:51].
Evan Wade: It wasn’t challenging enough for me. Mortgages are complicated and it’s always something new to figure out. I think that’s what really clicked for me and as I was working that job I got state licensed because TD was a federally chartered bank so I didn’t have to go through the safe testing or take any kind of standardized testing per se. I did all that in about the beginning of 2015 and then I jumped into the mortgage business full time in May of 2015 and that’s where it really started to click, where I started doing purchase loans and just the emotions involved where that ultimate payoff where the …
Scott Schang: Listening to your …
Evan Wade: … [inaudible 00:11:40] so excited, so thankful and …
Scott Schang: Yeah. Listening to your stories, I’m thinking something really interesting because you and I know each other. I think we both have a little bit of a reclusive side but when you’re connecting with customers, that’s kind of where we get that social interaction and that satisfaction but you really need to have that challenge and that geeky side of it. One of the things that really kind of strikes me here is that when you get into something you just dive into it. I know I think you and I got connected just a couple of years ago so you were probably not too long into the purchase side of it.
Evan Wade: Correct. About a year and a half-
Scott Schang: How Evan and I know each other is people come to Find My Way Home, normally because they get told no or turned down by another lender that doesn’t know their guidelines and I had a bunch of people coming from the state that you’re in and we were introduced by a mutual friend and they said, “No, this is just a really good guy.” Man, the feedback that came from the people that you started working with was just amazing. I had no idea that you were just starting to get into it but it really comes down to the skillset is the passion and the commitment to helping people and then the willingness to put in the effort to do the homework to really just make sure that you are covering all your bases, A to Z, making sure that you understand the entire process and listen to the problem, go to the books, find the solution, structure it and then be able to fight for it.
Here we are. You’ve been doing purchase money for a little while. Another thing that I found that’s very common with people is you developed this super power. What are you amazing at? What is it that you just love more than anything that if you had your choice, that’s all you would do?
Evan Wade: That’s an easy one for me. VA loans.
Scott Schang: That’s a good one, man. There’s so many people that don’t understand VA loans and it’s similar to Quicken. Most people … I don’t know if you’ve ever been home during the day and there’s daytime television. There’s these big box VA lenders and they’re just these telemarketing rooms going after veterans and I’m listening to these commercials and I’m like, man, about 70% of that is accurate but they’re missing the most important part of their messaging. How did you kind of get into that? How did that happen?
Evan Wade: There’s three major VA lenders out there that you don’t even need to name them. Every veteran, every mortgage professional, probably every consumer can say those three off the top of their head.
Scott Schang: Yeah, let’s not mention them. Find My Way Home’s not big enough to defend themselves in a lawsuit.
Evan Wade: No. Nope. Not [inaudible 00:14:56].
Scott Schang: Listen, if you talk to them, you know who they are.
Evan Wade: Exactly. They’re marketing machines and they … It’s just a veteran is going to think that they just have to go to those companies just because that’s how they’ve built their marketing system is that they’re the be all, end all. The probably with those lenders is that they’re largely inexperienced. They hire people that they’re just paying a salary and they’re just fresh out of college, whatever it may be, and they don’t have that same drive I do to be an expert. What I find is that these lenders also have very burdensome overlays, whether it be seizing requirements on derogatory credit, debt ratio caps, really anything you can think of, they’re trying to limit-
Scott Schang: You and I are going to schedule a whole series of these interviews. We’re going to schedule a whole series of these videos to go over this stuff because the terminology that you’re using, not a lot of people understand what this stuff but it is literally the difference between qualifying and not qualifying, right? When you talk about overlays, overlays is simply where a lender decides to make their own rules and not follow the guidelines and that’s where people get caught up. We’re going to dig into that a lot more but I have a couple more questions that I want to kind of share with people because this is a little bit of a 10,000-foot view of how do I know when I’ve connected with an Evan, right?
One of the things that I also find is different is the first contact. You already know what happens if you call a big box telemortgaging company. You contact them and you’re talking to a telemarketer and you can kind of sense it. They’re pushing you towards getting a credit card, getting an application fee. You can feel like they’re trying to suck you through a process. What is it like when somebody contacts you for the first time? What is that first conversation like?
Evan Wade: For me, it’s really relaxed since I’m not the salesy type. I’m not pushy at all. It’s really one of those, when you’re ready I’m ready kind of deal. I’ll communicate in any method that the consumer is most comfortable with so whether that’s text message, phone calls, emails, whatever’s most comfortable with them. I’m not trying to put them in a box with how they want to communicate. It’s just a very personal conversation. I’m not …
Scott Schang: Very accommodating it sounds like.
Evan Wade: … [inaudible 00:17:55] successful loan officer but I have no interest in doing 10, 15 loans a month. You get a lot more personal attention from me and I try to limit the other cogs in the wheel as much as possible so that I am your primary point of contact from beginning to end. I do need help with the back office type administrative tasks but by and large, I’m very accessible from start to finish.
Scott Schang: That’s definitely a stark contrast from getting on the phone with a big box lender that it’s a different process. I think maybe that’s the lesson and that’s what I’m trying to extract here from you and relay in this message is does it feel like it’s about you or does it feel like they’re trying to make you follow their system of pulling you through a process that’s a predetermined process or are you just having a conversation and trying to figure these things out?
Okay, this is one of my favorite parts. Here’s where you get to shine. I want some war stories from you, or at least one war story. What’s your best, say give me an example of something that you were able to … Give me your best war story, you know what I’m saying. Something that you just absolutely pulled from the depths of frustrated borrowers and just helped them out.
Evan Wade: I would say my favorite one and, Scott, you and I have discussed this. I’ve gotten connected with lots of borrowers that I’ve helped from the Find My Home Network but I did get one that wound up getting funneled through another loan officer while I was at [Movement 00:19:55] where they were like a … What was it? I think it was 10 or 11 calendar days away from closing and the lender told them that they were not qualified for a VA loan. This particular situation was that he had a short sale three weeks prior to buying this new home. He was a medically retired marine corps veteran who he never went late on his mortgage. He was completely up to date but he needed to move back to this area to be closer to family so he convinced the lender that he had to short sell the property without going late. Most lenders encourage you to go late before short selling, which I think is 100% illegal but that’s for a different time.
Scott Schang: [inaudible 00:20:53] totally different conversation.
Evan Wade: The VA has no short sale seasoning requirements but the lender was running into eligibility problems and for those that are familiar with the VA loan process, you have a certain amount of eligibility and the way I was able to figure it out is that he could still the remaining entitlement on his VA loan with a very nominal down payment and still be eligible even though the VA had to pay out a claim on his behalf because the lender took a loss on that.
Scott Schang: Wow. Did you close on time?
Evan Wade: Oh yeah. Didn’t even need to extend the closing date.
Scott Schang: Really?
Evan Wade: Transfer the appraisal, went from contract to close in, I think I was cleared to close the day before, the Friday, there was a Monday or something I think. I forget the exact dates but I didn’t even have to extend the closing date.
Scott Schang: Okay. I don’t want to hijack that unbelievable story because that’s crazy but I heard a couple things there that, man, if I had a dollar for every time I had to say this, I would be rich right now. You actually got that loan so you had mentioned a company that you had worked for prior to you starting your own shop right now and they were turned down by another loan officer at that lender and this is what people don’t understand.
Evan Wade: No, it was a different lender. Different lender. Long story short-
Scott Schang: It wasn’t the same company. It wasn’t the same company.
Evan Wade: No. Long story short was the loan officer that worked with the listing agent of the house they short sold got in contact with my market leader through her market leader and my market leader gave it to me because he knew I was the VA loan expert and that was just-
Scott Schang: What I got from that, and what my point is, is it’s not the lender. Sometimes it’s the lender. Sometimes lenders have overlays but your options are literally limited to the experience and expertise and professionalism of a person that you’re talking to on the other side of the phone because that lender very well could have done it but that loan officer had no clue on what the guidelines were and you knew your guidelines and you dug in there and you found the guidelines and in that particular situation, that is a super hairy one. It just is. That’s a very nichey guideline that there’s no way you would know that if somebody like you wasn’t digging through those guidelines because that’s not something that lenders or loan officers see every day and it’s so much different of a policy from what any other lender does but, man, good job. That’s unbelievable.
Okay. We’re going to wrap this up with a couple of quick questions with advice from the expert. The first one is home buyers. Somebody out there thinking about buying a home, what would be your best advice to a first time home buyer?
Evan Wade: Talk to an independent expert that … Don’t call an 800 number. Talk to somebody local who knows the market, knows experts in the area and talk to a lender first. Don’t look at homes until you’ve talked to a lender first. You don’t know what you qualify for until somebody calculates your debt ratio for you, sees how much money you have saved up, what loans you qualify for and all that. You’re just going to set yourself up for disappointment or you may qualify for more than what you think you can afford and you don’t know what those payments look like. There’s too many variables to try and do that on your own unless you’re a crazy fanatic researcher like I am.
Scott Schang: You touched on something real quick that I think I want to highlight here. You said talk to a lender but people kind of know the difference. They hear this word lender, they hear the word broker. You’re actually a broker. You’ve been a lender before. The best way that I like to describe it is a lender has one set of rules. They have one set of guidelines and you either fit in the box or you don’t. I went through a similar transition as you did. I was a lender. I found that I wasn’t able to help as many people so I became a broker and so did you, which means that they’re not talking to a lender, per se. They’re talking to an expert professional loan officer and you have access to a lot of different lenders, or I call them investors, on our side. You can choose based on what the criteria based on what the story is. Home buyers are like snowflakes, man. I’ve never met two that are exactly the same. There are always nuances.
Evan Wade: yep.
Scott Schang: I really want to pull that out and you even went one step further. You’re part of an organization, aren’t you, that really promotes people working with brokers like yourself?
Evan Wade: Yes. After the financial collapse in 2008, we as brokers, we were the ones that were largely ostracized as a result of that.
Scott Schang: Yeah, because we were all spread out. We didn’t have any power.
Evan Wade: We were all spread out, had no power, we all just competed with each other, didn’t look at each other as common … We’re in this together, the way I look at it. We were ostracized and now we’re finally starting to band together with a new organization called AIME. It’s an Association of Independent Mortgage Experts. It’s actually started by a local guy who’s in my market and I’ve become very good friends with him and we’re supposed to be 100% competitors.
Scott Schang: It doesn’t work that way amongst guys like us. I find that over and over again.
Evan Wade: No.
Scott Schang: Yeah, who can help?
Evan Wade: Completely abundance mentality. He brought me in. I’ve been to his office. He showed me exactly how, because he’s huge. He does almost $1 billion a year in volume but he’s still the same kind of deal. They have a passion for that excellence and they do a lot of volume but they’re still very, very good at what they do. They have extremely high reviews. Yeah. He started this organization to bring us all together, independent together is the exact tagline. We’re banding together to promote the broker channel because we believe at the broker channel is the best from the consumer, from both a pricing and rate standpoint and, like you said, with the unlimited options with all the lenders that we can [inaudible 00:28:17].
Scott Schang: We really need to do a series of videos talking about the difference between lenders and brokers because you brushed by it but brokers always have the lowest rates. We don’t have the overhead. We don’t have the buildings. We don’t have 25,000 employees and-
Evan Wade: It’s actually by law that we cannot make as much money or have the kind of rates that [inaudible 00:28:38] …
Scott Schang: That’s true.
Evan Wade: … or big box lenders have.
Scott Schang: That true.
Evan Wade: They can hide their compensation. We can’t.
Scott Schang: That’s the best kept secret in the industry, man.
Evan Wade: It’s 100% transparent when you’re dealing with a broker.
Scott Schang: Yeah, that’s great. All right. My last question for you is a home owner out there, why is it important that a home owner has someone like you in their back pocket? What do you do for a home owner?
Evan Wade: It could be any number of reasons. If you, depending on the market environment where you bought your home, how much money you put down, whether you have PMI and you might have done a bunch of improvements to your property and you can drop that PMI or you could get a lower rate, go from a 30-year to 15, a lot of circumstances can change where you really need somebody to be an advocate for you to really maximize the equity that you have in your home and pay less in interest or less in PMI and you have very different … Everybody’s life changes. You get a better paying job, anything like that and you should really reach out to your loan officer as things change, whether it be the property or your individual situation to see if you [crosstalk 00:29:57].
Scott Schang: Have you ever had a past client call you up and say, “Hey, Evan, I’m getting all these phone calls. I’m getting all these post cards. Do you think I should refinance,” and you told them, “No, it’s not a good time for you right now?”
Evan Wade: Oh, all the time. I do maybe three refinances a year. I’m very purchase driven and I’m only going to do a refinance if it makes sense for the borrower. I’m not out there to just collect a paycheck.
Scott Schang: You’re really educating them on what their options are, what the cost is, what the benefit is and you’re letting them make an informed decision obviously based on you saying, “Hey, listen, here’s the skinny. You don’t have to refinance. You don’t have to spend that money right now unless you [crosstalk 00:30:47].”
Evan Wade: Exactly and I know we’re going to talk in a future video about where veterans are specifically targeted with predatory lending and how that’s changing and how I’m a staunch opponent of those lenders that are really taking advantage of … Where it may seem like an interest rate reduction is a good thing but not are looking at the cost involved with that and how it strips you of your equity and gets you in a hole that you can’t get out of. The single largest driver of wealth is owning real estate and over the last 80 years in our country, 90 years since FHA was created, that gets basically thrown out the window when you’re [inaudible 00:31:41] refinances that don’t make sense.
Scott Schang: Quite frankly, that’s what happened to the industry and that’s why mortgage brokers were demonized, because we’re the little guys that couldn’t speak up but the reality was that Wall Street and big lenders, big money got greedy and they were just making people use their houses as ATM machines, strip all their equity out, maxed it out with fake loans and then the whole thing collapsed and it caused a 10-year recession essentially. It was a tough time. It was a tough time for the industry. Yeah, that’s why we started Find My Way Home. We started it 10 years ago and believe it or not, we’ve had over a million people visit this website and just hear about this kind of stuff that we’re talking about right now …
Evan Wade: Yeah, it’s [crosstalk 00:32:37]
Scott Schang: … just trying to get out there.
Evan Wade: It’s amazing because the vast majority of people I speak with that come from the Find My Way Home network are great people who were affected by that financial downturn and they immediately fix their situation. They were small business owners that their business failed because the economy was bad, things that were completely out of their control and they’re very extremely qualified borrowers. They just need a loan officer that can help them through the process because I do the most of my business in New Jersey which is a judicial state with foreclosures so that you got situations where it may take, I think the average time to foreclose from the time you go delinquent is at least four and a half years so you got to have a mortgage person who understands those guidelines where certain products, they treat the bankruptcy as the same event as the foreclosure and some don’t. There’s just hundreds of different reasons we can come up why dealing an expert is better than going to a call center.
Scott Schang: Wow. You know, Evan, my friend, I’m really, really glad I met you. It’s been a pleasure knowing you. I love the fact that there’s guys like you out there completely across the country and we met each other through the common goal of trying to just help people, trying to help people make their way through what’s unfortunately was usually a bad situation but luckily they found us and they got connected and I love the AIME movement. I love that you’re involved in it. I think that’s very consistent with who you are and your character and who you are and trying to help people and I hope we can do more of this where we can get the word out and we can let people know that there’s individuals like us that, together, we can help a lot more people.
We might not have the money to run Super Bowl commercials but if you’re in a situation where you’re not squeaky clean and perfect credit and been at the same job for 20 years and don’t have a second job and never had a hardship, you might be able to squeak through one of those. A telemarketer might be able to do your loan but if you’re normal like the rest of us, you need somebody like the rest of us.
Evan, thank you so much for being here. I look forward to a whole series of videos with you, really diving deep into the VA stuff, like you said. There’s new legislation just enacted to protect veterans and I know you’re on the forefront of that so I look forward to having some of those conversations with you and thank you very much for being here and I’ll talk to you soon.
Evan Wade: I appreciate it.
Scott Schang: All right. Thanks. Bye-bye.