Written by Katie Rubin
Jason Mata is one of those people you just wanna hang out and have a beer with.
He’s one of those guys who you hope will invite you out, to hang at his favorite local bar, where you’ll meet all his other genial, kind-hearted, bad ass, probably-very-tall-cuz-he-is-and-tall-people-hang-out-together, great at their jobs, friends.
He’s a good guy, you know? He smiles often, and when he does, you feel like he means it. Like it’s easy for him to do. Like it’s coming directly from his heart. Like he doesn’t have to try to “be nice.” Like he actually, kind of just… is.
And what a treat to meet that kind of guy in the finance world where time spent in an office can often be experienced as a kind of two-dimensional, heartless, money-grabbing exchange: “You give me money. Me help you buy house. You leave office. Me drive nice car now.”
Not with Jason Mata. In this guy’s hands, after 30 seconds, I feel like I’m family. Like, but for real.
“What is Mortgage Banking?” I ask him, profoundly ignorant, and not afraid to admit it.
“So, in this business, there are three ways to pursue funding for home-buying: Mortgage Brokers, Retail Banks, and Mortgage Bankers. Brokers are the go-between guys who connect people with sources of funding. Banks are banks. And, then there’s us. We function more like a bank, providing the funding ourselves.”
“Ahh, gotcha,” I say. “So, why come to a Mortgage Banker rather than going to a bank,” I ask.
“Well, not to knock banks, banks are great, and we need them to keep our economy healthy. But, in the case of a bank, their aim is to keep you on board so they can sell you more and more products. We just do one thing. Help people find and buy the home of their dreams. We have no other interests, no additional products to sell. And that really frees us up to take time with each client.”
I ask Jason what he thinks the key to his company’s success has been.
“You know, I actually care about the experience people have with us. It’s not just a transaction to me. It’s a relationship. Clients I’ve helped for 10 or 12 years are still clients today. When you’re a client of ours, you’re a client for life.”
I ask what got him into the Mortgage Banking game to begin with and he says: “I love the connections. I love hanging out with people. This doesn’t feel like a job to me. Don’t get me wrong, people are entrusting me with the biggest investment they’re probably ever going to make, so it’s a big deal. And I deeply understand that. But in the doing of it, it’s like I’m just here to take care of you and connect with you. And that’s just fun for me.”
“I always tell my team,” Jason continues: “We’re more than an interest rate. We don’t want to be commoditized. For us, it’s a very high touch experience. We want our client to feel like they have a team that is there to support them through literally every step of their home buying process.”
Don’t you just wanna have a sandwich with this guy? And watch the game, or something? I don’t even watch games, and I wanna watch a game with Jason Mata!
In the 30 minutes I spend with Jason, he also manages to offer me some juicy, insider, home-buying tips. “Our business model,” he tells me, “is providing education for buyers. Like, for example, a lot of first-time home buyers still think they have to save 20% to put down on a house, but that isn’t true.”
“It’s NOT?!”, I almost shout.
“No. California has a lot of great systems put in place to help the first-time home buyer. FHA loans only require 3.5 percent down and Conventional loans require 3%, but with state assistance programs through CalHFA - sometimes you can put just down 2-3 thousand dollars. They require you to have 640 credit score, and that you be first-time buyer, but that’s it.”
“WHAT?!” Now I’m definitely yelling.
“Yeah. And when we meet with people whose credit score is maybe not perfect, we’re never of the mindset that we can’t help you. Instead, we want to teach you the steps to take to fix your credit score. So, with us, it’s not ‘No, never.’ It’s sometimes just ‘Let’s check back in in 6 months when you’ve had time to take those steps.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m blown away over here. I’ve managed to stop shouting, but I’m still seriously blown away because I, myself, thought until this very moment, that I’d have to save 20% to buy a house.
Then Jason does what Jason does. He destroys my brain even further.
“Yeah,” he beams. “And, if you have like a 720 credit score, we may be able to coach you on how to get to a 760 credit score, which would then save you hundreds of dollars on interest or mortgage insurance.”
Needless to say, I signed up for one of Jason’s Homebuyer Workshops. Immediately.
I’ll be taking it next month. His classes are an hour long, and are designed to teach folks everything we need to know about every step of the home-buying process, from day one (where I am) when we’re sorting through those first bits of home-buying info, just trying to understand how it all works, to that glorious day when we pick up the keys to our brand new homes!
So, if you’re not heading to any of the awesome local spots Jason Mata frequents (Kings Games, The Bark Park in mid-town where his golden-doodle is apparently aggressively friendly, or any number of basketball courts where he’s wowing a bunch of dudes 15 years his junior with his ability to run some SOLID game) find him on CalHFA’s Website under their Lending Heroes where he’s been awarded as one of the top Mortgage Bankers in the state.
Or heck. Just email the guy. He’s happy, hilarious and ready for a chill hang. With you. At his office downtown, where you can look out the window and see, well, everything.