On an island full of brick-and-mortar banks, a virtual mortgage brokerage service opened to provide competitive pricing and personalized service. Ruth Johaningsmeir retired six years ago when she moved to Marco Island. After limited socializing during the pandemic, she decided to un-retire. She opened Marco Island Loans powered by Nexa Mortgage. Our conversation with Ms. Johaningsmeir:
Q. Why did you decide to come out of retirement and become a mortgage loan officer?
A. I followed in my father’s footsteps. He was 50 years old, when he retired and moved to Florida. Five years later, he was working again. My husband and I moved to Marco Island from the Chicago area in 2015 and I always knew I would start working again. During the pandemic I was refinancing my home and was so bored that I jokingly asked the title company if they needed any help. I’ve been involved in real estate for decades but didn’t want to be a Realtor again – there are plenty on the island already. After that comment, the stars seemed to align, telling me multiple times to become a mortgage broker.
Q. Why did you choose to open Marco Island Loans?
A. Because a lot of people have trouble spelling “mortgage.” Seriously though, we have so many banks on the island and I wanted the best interest rate without making all the phone calls. I Googled “Marco Island mortgage broker” and wasn’t satisfied with the results (maybe I spelled mortgage wrong). I plugged in my information into one of the sites that compares rates. That was a mistake!
Q. Why is that?
A. I was inundated with calls, emails and texts within seconds. It was overwhelming. I told them I wasn’t interested in refinancing.
Q. Why didn’t you go to your bank for a loan?
A. Internet rates were much better than either of my banks and I was able to do this after 5 pm in my pandemic wardrobe.
Q. Why should other people choose you instead of going online?
A. 1) To avoid getting spammed.
2) My rates are the same as internet rates.
3) I’m local.
Q. Why is being local important?
A. Marco Island is a tight community. If I don’t do a great job, word will get out. I started off cold calling strangers and every one of my clients knew one of my friends.
Ruth Johaningsmeir working at home for Marco Island Loans
Q. You cold called? That must have been difficult.
A. Thanks to the pandemic, I wasn’t the only person that wanted to talk on the phone. My first day 40% of the people answered their phones. I was calling people who owned here in Marco but lived out of state. What many of us here on the island were seeing was people selling their homes up north and moving here full time. Refinancing a Marco home from a vacation home to a primary residence with record low interest rates was something people wanted to do and I was able to provide that service.
Q. What do you see as trends for our area?
A. People can work from home, which leads to younger people moving here instead of just a two-week vacation. Snowbirds are giving up on the North and moving here full time too. Even a 30-year mortgage isn’t a big deal because people down here live longer and are more active.
Q. We live in an area with a lot of money and retirees. Why get a mortgage? Isn’t the goal to pay off your home?
A. That’s really an individual preference. My dad was an entrepreneur. I went to college in the eighties. We were all about OPM Other People’s Money. Owning a home is about building wealth. Whereas my husband’s dad only had one job his entire life and got a pension at retirement. To him owning a home was all about security. If you’re looking to build wealth, you let your money work for you. When you can get a mortgage at record low rates and home values are appreciating, it makes more sense and cents to get a mortgage.
Ruth Johaningsmeir is a local mortgage loan originator for NEXA Mortgage with MarcoIslandLoans.com and NaplesFLLoans.com. Her NMLS license number is 2176345 and the company number is NMLS 1660690.
Reverse Mortgages After The World Changed
Mortgages and helping people excites Ruth Johaningsmeir. But while reading a book about Reverse Mortgages, she kept falling asleep. "How can someone who is being force to learn about Reverse Mortgages suppose to get through this boring and technical book?"
The "For Dummies" books are trademarked and not her target market. She deals with smart people. How can she write a book for her target market? Humor.
"When we cleaned out my father-in-law's home, he had a file of printed emails jokes. When I cleaned out my mom's emails because she was maxing out on space, the files clogging up her saved box were all jokes. My aunt an uncle used to send me joke emails all the time until I had to ask my aunt to stop. I didn't ask my uncle because he was far more selective and I found them funny. That was a decade ago. Now my uncle is retired, his emailed jokes are no longer selective."
Jokes are a great way to get a point across. They tend to be funny because they are true and a little painful. Ruth Johaningsmeir hopes that these jokes will make learning about reverse mortgages easier.