At Own Up, we pride ourselves on being a mission-driven organization. We strive to empower people to make the best decision about the biggest investment they are likely to make -- their home. Specifically, we aim to educate homeowners on how to secure the best financial outcome, which often means avoiding mortgage interest they don't need to pay, even if it doesn't mean getting a loan through Own Up.
We'd like you to meet Mike Cruz, a proud new homeowner in Brighton, MA. We didn't get paid a dime for helping him, but we are proud that we helped him save tens of thousands of dollars by providing him with personal advice that helped him to secure a mortgage that was much better than the one he had previously.
While we are running a business, we are in this for the long haul. Because we serve everyone with transparency and fairness, we will easily surpass our pledge to save all homebuyers $10M in mortgage interest this year, with the vast majority working with us.
Here is his story.
OU: What did Own Up mean to you and how would you describe it to someone else?
Mike Cruz: Own Up is almost like having a friend there to answer questions about how mortgages work and seek advice on what to do given your own personal circumstances. Even if you don’t use their service for whatever reason, they are still happy to help you in your quest for a mortgage. Own Up helped me secure a lower interest rate on my mortgage.
Without you, I would have settled for a rate about .75% higher and I wouldn’t have the knowledge I do now about different mortgage products available to me.
Own Up: Wow. Thanks so much, can you tell us about your new condo and how you got your loan?
MC: I wanted a new construction and a condo was being built. When I agreed to purchase it, I had to get pre-approved. The developer asked that I get pre-approval from one of their preferred lenders, so that’s where I started.
I also had to put down 10% of the purchase price up front. I know, though, that it’s recommended to put 20% down. So, in the time between the agreement and closing, I saved up money hoping to increase my down payment in hopes I would get a lower rate.
OU: It’s great that you saved all that money. What happened then? Lower rates?
MC: Turns out my rate didn’t change at all. She gave me the same rate I got nearly a year ago--4.125% for a 30-year fixed. The only thing that changed was PMI. I felt that I had seen better rates online, and believed I could do better with a little research. That’s when I began to shop around.
I started by going through the seller’s list of preferred lenders. But none of them were able to give me what I needed.
OU: How did you hear about us?
MC: Ironically, that night, I saw a post about Own Up on Facebook. It said they could get lower rates. The timing was perfect! I clicked through, entered some basic information, and booked a consultation with Mike Tassone. We talked the next day during my drive to work.
Mike was incredibly helpful and very knowledgeable. I asked a lot of questions about different terms. I asked what he would do in my situation. It felt like I was talking to a friend, not somebody trying to sell me something. As someone who has never been through this before, it was great to get honest advice.
He was the first one who suggested I consider the 7/1 ARM. He gave me a lot of reasons for it, and I kind of agreed with him. Later that day he emailed me a link to different loan options and rates from different banks for both the 7/1 ARM and 30-year fixed. Two of the quotes were lower than what I was getting from the developer’s preferred lenders.
OU: How did your first lender react when you told her the news?
I sent my first lender the rates Mike had given me and asked if she could match. She got back to me the next day and gave me this whole sales thing about how her company was number one in Massachusetts the last four years, and all these details about the challenges of financing new construction--which was a concern I shared. But basically, she said she wouldn’t match the rates at that time.
I said okay, no hard feelings. At this point, I was ready to commit to Own Up.
I told my real estate agent that I was going to switch. The rate with Own Up was lower, working with Mike was great, and ultimately I would save close to $2,500 a year on my payments. And I really wanted the 7/1 ARM; the other lender was only offering me a 30-year fixed.
OU: We see this all the time. When you came to us, Mike was confident there were better options available. We also knew that your first lender had the discretion to lower her rate to match if she wanted to. Were we right?
MC: You were! First, she offered rates that were a little lower than what she gave me initially, but she still wasn’t able to match the rates from Own Up. After a few more emails back and forth, however, she came down even further.
When I got her to her final number, I calculated out all the different costs--taxes, paying off the interest, closing costs, deductibles, and more. With that new rate, I’d save only $3.14 per month by going with Own Up.
At that point, I thought of how much I’d already done with the first lender, and how I was already close to finishing the process. The savings weren’t worth the energy of switching.
OU: How did Mike react? Was he mad about that?
MC: Not mad at all. I told Mike that I was going to stick with my initial lender and he suggested that I take the savings, put a lot of it into a low-risk investment account, and use it to refinance or on my next loan. I’ll use some of the savings to pay off my student loans, save more every month and not be as stressed.
He was really super cool about it.