Whitney grew up in Hopewell, Virginia and now lives in Richmond’s West End with her family.  She is a phenomenal mortgage loan officer.   Perhaps you’re thinking—well I’m not buying a home Van—but you may want to consider refinancing your home loan to lower your current rate (speak with her, then your financial advisor or visa versa). 

I sat down with Whitney and asked her 8 questions as a rising star in Richmond’s business community.

1) Your twitter feed lists you as:  wife, mom, loan officer, Wahoo, former English teacher, Masterpiece Theater addict, tennis player, Richmonder.  Let's talk about "former" English teacher--how'd you make the leap from teacher to loan officer?  The first transition I made was from English teacher to Director of Admission at a small private school in Midlothian. When my colleague’s husband took notice of the things I was doing to market the school and increase enrollment, he approached me about a possible career switch.  After a year of contemplating a move, I decided to give it a try, and I never looked back.  My mom was a Realtor when I was growing up, and I have always found real estate fascinating so mortgage was a good fit.

2) OK, now we can talk about Masterpiece Theater--is this just code for Downton Abbey, or is the addiction even more serious?  A bandwagon fan I am not.  I was a Masterpiece Theater fan years before Downton Abbey became popular.  I’m a sucker for a good period piece—I think I’ve watched every Masterpiece Theater production in the last 10 years—from Jane Austen movies to Cranford; Upstairs, Downstairs; and Call the Midwife.  I do not, however, care for Masterpiece Mystery. 

3) You blog, right?  What's the link and what's your goal for the blog?  I have been blogging since January 2012.  My blog, Loan Officer Lately, can be found at www.RVAloanofficer.com I write about mortgage news and trouble-shooting common and non-so-common mortgage scenarios.  The articles are helpful to send my clients from time to time when they run into similar scenarios—and, it saves me time as I’ve already put my research in one place and I don’t have to re-invent the wheel each time a similar scenario arises.  People all over the country write me for help when they run into issues in underwriting and their loan officer isn’t helping them. 

4) I noted that loan officer allows more flexibility than teacher--I think people may be surprised by that--how does that work?  As a loan officer, I set my own hours.  I often find myself meeting with clients after 5 p.m. or working on weekends, so I flex my time during the week accordingly.  If I know I have meetings from 5 p.m.-7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, I may stay home with my daughter until 10 or 11 a.m. As a teacher, you cannot flex your hours—and, bathroom breaks are difficult to come by!

5) So, we've both been to Dubrovnik, Croatia, which I couldn't believe.  Describe this epic cruise--any particular port of call that you have at the top of your list for a return visit?  My girlfriend and I decided to take a 12 day Mediterranean cruise before we had children—we visited Barcelona, Nice, Rome, Florence, Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, and Santorini.  Every port was amazing, but, if I had to choose, I would love to spend a full week in Santorini.  The small town of Oia (think Mamma Mia or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) was so breathtakingly beautiful and the food and people were amazing.

6) Are there still visible barriers for women in the financial sector--or are there still roadblocks to professional advancement?  My profession operates on a commission model, so I don’t see it here—for loan officers it comes down to building referral partners, work ethic, and ability to close loans while keeping client happy (thanks to heavy mortgage regulation, this is no easy task).  I do pass up a fair amount of evening networking events in order to be home at night and put my daughter to bed.  I may be passing up the opportunity to build referral partners at these, but it’s a trade-off I’m happy to make.

7) Financial folks typically get a window into people's private financial lives--what's some advice you'd like to pass on to folks to improve their financial wellbeing?  Just because you can finance it does not mean you can afford it. 

8) Parting thoughts on mortgages or life?  I found this quote on Pinterest today: “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.” -Beverly Sills

H. Van Smith
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Trusted Virginia Attorney Serving Richmond to Williamsburg
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