California leads way in recovery.

Author:Schneider, Howard
Position:Broker Business

Robert Cohan opened the Beverly Hills office of Carlyle Financial in June 2012, after spending more than a dozen years as a top producer at several large financial institutions. He saw an opportunity to "fill a hole" in both product and customer service for the high-end market of Los Angeles, says Cohan, the company's president.

Most of Carlyle's originations are jumbo loans, which is anything above $625,500 in Los Angeles County. Typically borrowers are seeking a seven-to 10-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), says Cohan.

He believes in the mortgage banking business model, and consistently touts his firm's capabilities to potential customers. Cohan explains to borrowers that qualifying for a loan at a depository institution just means they're approved for that bank's product. "You don't know if you're getting the best deal," he adds.

Working as a mortgage banker lets Cohan present more options to consumers. Carlyle also offers enhanced service levels, he says. While banks currently may take 6o to 90 days to close a loan, Carlyle strives to finish the process in 45 days.

"There's so much red tape in banks," Cohan explains. Delays come from two sources, he notes. Cautious underwriting is deemed necessary to ensure that an institution's loans match the specific investor "overlay" guidelines it's working under. Large banks also don't have enough staff with the authority to approve deals, he contends.

Such practices produce a weak customer service experience, he believes. "Retail banks take forever," Cohan asserts. "No one likes to wait three months and repeatedly send over documents" to satisfy underwriter requests.

Most Carlyle clients are referred to the firm, Cohan notes. "Since we're almost at capacity levels," he adds, "you have to take care of the people who know you." Marketing widely would bring in more business than the company could take care of, he says.

Having a Beverly Hills office gives Carlyle easy access to the business advisers often used by high-income households. Yet Cohan and his staff, which includes three additional loan officers, also work directly with applicants on common loan issues ranging from credit problems to dealing with unpermitted improvements on a purchase.

Refis rise

Refinancing has dominated 2012 originations, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). MBA reported in October 2012 that refis then accounted for 83 percent of all residential originations.

"Refinance application volume jumped...

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