Matthew and Tiffany Donovan help Southwest Florida neighbors find funding for their forever homes.
They take full advantage of raising their teenage children in Southwest Florida, by enjoying fun in the sun at local sporting events, festivals, and beaches. But after cheering at a Bucks game or grilling tenderloin backyard on the weekend, Matthew and Tiffany devote their professional careers, as local mortgage lenders, helping neighbors find funding their forever homes.
What's the difference between working with a local lender, like yourself, and a national lender, like a bank?
Matthew: Well, it's our money which is a huge difference between working with a bank or a broker. For example, we can work with someone who has a 550 credit score or uses the bank statements of a small business owner to get them a loan.
We collaborate with a lot of retirees in Venice. And we can base their loans on asset depletion, meaning they had a set amount of assets when they retired and use so much every year. They don't make an income, but we can still work with them to get a loan.
So you can offer more creative funding options?
Tiffany: Yes, anyone can find money for someone who is employed, has excellent credit, and is willing to put 20% down. But, if there's an obstacle, we want to assist. We're honest with our clients—for better or worse—but, we ask what their goals are and help them achieve it. A lot of times that means credit repair, and we can help with that. You can also call me Sunday night, and we'll talk. A lot of people have lost touch with that.
Matthew, How did you become a mortgage lender?
Matthew: Well, You don't go to school for this. (laughs). I went to school for marketing. But, one of my childhood friend's parents was a mortgage broker at a Barnett Bank, and I kinda' fell in love the idea of doing the same thing. So, after college, I began working for a mortgage company in Tampa.
But I grew with parents who were self-employed—they owned a retail business on Siesta Key and a few others around the country. But, I grew up with that freedom of being self-employed; so, I started my own company for awhile. I sold that and moved to Vagas during the bubble. I came back 2009 and started small again. That's when I met Tiffany.
Tiffany, were you working in the same industry at that time?
Tiffany: No, I didn't start in the mortgage business until after we got married. I was in the dental business for 17 years; and, so I was doing that every day. From 8 am - 5 pm, I'd be in my scrubs hunched over all day. And then, Matthew and I started talking.
Matthew asked me to help him; he said: "If you can get me one or two loans a month, then that will make up for your pay." So, I did. But if a client asked me about rates, I couldn't talk about it. I could talk about products; but, I couldn't talk about particulars. So then I said, well let me get licensed. And I did. Before you knew it, we were full steam, 100%.
How is working together now?
Matthew: Well, her marketing for the first 6-9 months, I mean, wow. All marketing takes awhile to get going, but once they did, things started snowballing. She picked it up quick, and business has doubled.
Since then, well, of course, we do bump heads once awhile; but it's worked out so well. We can be at two places at once, and give twice as much attention to our clients. I can go to a closing, and she can go to a meeting at the same time. And because we streamline our emails, we both see everything that's going on. It's is perfect for our business and our family.
How do you keep business and family separate?
Tiffany: we try not to carry it over to the house much unless we have to. If we're out to dinner or with the kids we try not to talk about work.
Sometimes we break that rule—we're human—but it works because the freedom of our occupation let take advantage of doing something fun during the days we're not busy.
What type of things do you do for fun?
Matthew: We just enjoy the sun.. being outdoors. I just renewed our tickets to the Buck—season tickets... We like watching the Oreal's for Spring Training—all types of live sporting events.
Tiffany: Lots of grilling during the summer: Tenderloin. Burgers. I can't eat anything bland... I like robust flavors... I'm always throwing something in ... even when he cooks (both laugh)
Any favorite things to do in the neighborhood?
Tiffany: The pier and the jetty are great. And there is the dog park there now, which is nice. One of our best friends live down there, and we go a lot. It's right on the water. And wonderful.
What about you Matthew?
Matthew: One thing I love. The Chalk festival. Have you heard about this? It's supposedly one of the best ones. They get people from all over the world to come here, they do all these murals, on the pavement, out of chalk and they make them all 3d... It's awesome.
We do love the restaurants in town too.
What are your favorite restaurants in town
Matthew: Sharky's. Made in Italy. There's also a great BBQ place right on the Island, Gold Rush BBQ. We also cook a lot at home a lot.
What are the most memorable experiences you've had so far as a mortgage lender?
Tiffany: Honestly its the charitable ones.. a family that's struggling or has a child that has disabilities. That ability to change their lives. Seeing them at the closing—and we go to every closing—but, seeing a family that needed our help there with tears of joy in their eyes—just so thankful that they were able to get there. That what gives me gratitude in my job.
And for you Matthew?
Matthew: Recently, the one I feel really good about is.. a veteran we worked with—100% disabled... he and his wife wanted to move to Florida because the weather was better for him and she was pregnant. They had to get out of their home, and they had a house they closing on in town. But it was a holiday weekend; they couldn't close on that Monday. We helped them find a hotel. But, it was all of them; and their service animal. We went to the closing with them, and they were thrilled because it meant they could finally get their home. (chuckles) Then the power went out. And he said, "I don't care" We all used our phones as flashlights... so he could sign. They moved in right away.