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Getting to Yes: Why More Agents Are Turning to Opes Advisors

March 07 2018

Nikki James feels uniquely empowered as a loan officer. In the lending world today, where loan originators commonly lament the struggle to obtain approval on anything but a "plain vanilla" loan, Nikki is blunt: "I feel there's rarely a loan that comes my way that I can't do," she says.

Nikki is a top-producing mortgage advisor with Opes Advisors, a division of Flagstar Bank. She will be the first to credit of her feeling of empowerment to the distinctive hybrid mortgage model that emerged after Opes Advisors joined Flagstar Bank. "Becoming a part of Flagstar just added to what I can offer," she said.

It's all about "getting to yes," Nikki said, a philosophy that permeates the culture at Opes Advisors. She notes that when everyone from processing to underwriting to the corporate offices is aligned, getting to yes is a lot easier.

This is the reason that more real estate agents are bringing their clients to Opes Advisors, because they are often able to offer options that most lenders do not.

One example she gives is the work she does with many elderly couples who are house rich, but do not have a lot of income—just Social Security, dividends and interest—but are ready to "step down."

"One older couple owned a $6 million home free and clear and they wanted to buy a $2.5 million home to be closer to town and have less to care for," Nikki said. "They had some money, but really the $6 million home was their net worth. To Opes Advisors, there wasn't much risk to put a $2.5 million loan on a $6 million home. They paid cash for their new condo, which gave their real estate agent time to move their belongings out of the home, get it painted, fix it up a bit, and put it on the market for top dollar," she added. That made Nikki and Opes Advisors a hero with her client and her agent.

For Nikki, being part of Opes Advisors allows her to deliver exceptional customer service—and results—to her clients and her agents. That's something she knows is probably an uncommon feeling among loan officers elsewhere.

"So many people who want to sell feel paralyzed, absolutely paralyzed. I wish they would talk to someone at Opes Advisors so we can show them that in many cases, there are ways to buy before you sell. Not everyone will be able to, but so many people would move if we could show them how."

Here are some more real-world examples of how other mortgage advisors at Opes Advisors have helped customers get to yes:

Grant Tisdel who serves the San Diego area, including Carlsbad, Calif., had well-qualified borrowers looking to maximize their new purchasing power prior to selling their current home. The borrowers wanted to do some work on their existing residence and then sell the home in the future. Fortunately, Opes Advisors' Jumbo Community Program allows 95 percent financing on the new property and their income was sufficient to support the DTI (debt-to-income) ratio for both properties. The best part was that Grant was able to secure the loan with an aggressive rate and terms that could not be matched. (Jumbo Community Loan Program by Opes Advisors is available in California cities that include Campbell, Carlsbad, Irvine, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Anselmo, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Clara, Sherman Oaks, and Sunnyvale, as well as in Bellevue and Seattle, Wash.)

Marney Solle is based in California's Marin County and had clients who needed to use all of their income to qualify for a refinance, but some of that income had recently changed. Because the borrower had recently switched to a base salary plus commission position, there was no history of prior commission income. Moreover, the co-borrower's non-traditional income source did not meet the minimum requirement that it continues three years into the future. The result was a DTI ratio of over 50 percent. The solution: the borrower's parents were willing to sign on the loan, and that lowered the DTI to below 43 percent. However, for a jumbo loan refinance, most investors still require occupant ratios. Marney was able to structure the transaction with a broker jumbo product she had access to, which allowed occupant ratios up to 60 percent, provided the blended ratio was less than 43 percent. The borrowers were able to complete their refinance and lower their monthly expense as a result of Marney's creative strategy – and the access to additional product sources Opes Advisors provide.

Scott Hellar of the Larkspur, Calif., branch had borrowers with A+ credit; however they had no homeownership experience and were looking at a $1.75 million purchase price. The Flagstar jumbo products were coming up as the best price, but required two exceptions: one for minimum trade lines and one for first-time homebuyers limit of under $1 million. Scott submitted an exception request on the Flagstar product and the exceptions were approved in less than 24 hours. Scott was able to secure the transaction at a good rate and the purchase was funded on time!

To discover how Opes Advisors can help your clients, visit to locate an office near you and talk with a local mortgage advisor in your area.

Ron Penir is regional director for Opes Advisors, a division of Flagstar Bank and oversees the Central Coast region, including the Pasadena, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo communities. Penir has devoted over two decades of his career to advancing the mortgage industry by recruiting, retaining, and managing the trade's top-producing loan originators. For more information he can be reached at 805.250.2409 or [email protected].