SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Small business spotlight: Home Financing Center

 

icordle@MiamiHerald.com

Company: Home Financing Center

Locations: Headquarters: 400 University Dr., third floor, Coral Gables. Additional office: 500 East Broward Blvd. Suite 122, Fort Lauderdale.

Service: Home Financing Center is an independently owned and operated mortgage lender, offering a variety of programs, including FHA/VA mortgages, loans for first-time buyers, commercial loans, reverse mortgages and refinancing programs.

In addition to mortgage lending, the company provides a variety of mortgage-related services. It owns Benefit Life Corp., which offers personal and commercial insurance products; Home Title Agency, a title company; and TLC, which offers private mortgage insurance.

Years in business: 30

Management team: Claudine Claus, president and CEO; John Allen, vice president of operations; Maria Pérez-Arche, director of operations; Christopher J. Garcia-Halenar, human resources director; José Rodriguez, loan servicing manager; Sharon Costa, risk and compliance manager.

Revenue: 2013: $11,618,995; 2012: $13,337,246; 2011: $6,936,623; 2010: $6,141,943; 2009: $6,140,798.

Employees: 61

Milestones: 2014: Selected as mortgage lender for the Dade County Federal Credit Union; obtained government approval as a Freddie Mac mortgage lender, which opens up additional lending options for customers owning condominiums; won the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce ‘Real Estate Leaders Award’ in the finance category.

2013: Opened a new office in Fort Lauderdale to service the needs of its Broward and Palm Beach customers.

Impact: Home Financing Center has helped tens of thousands of people fulfill their dream of buying a home, said President and Chief Executive Claudine Claus, who became the company’s sole owner in 2007. One of the company’s main goals is to increase home ownership, especially among those from underserved communities, she said.

Home Financing serves all segments of the marketplace with mortgage solutions such as conventional loans, jumbo loans for luxury homes and condominiums, loans for foreign buyers, refinancing for existing homeowners and second-home investment property financing, she said. The company has closed in excess of $3 billion in mortgages and has a current loan-servicing portfolio of $700 million.

“Going above and beyond customer’s expectations, educating customers on fair lending practices, creating home ownership opportunities for all and helping customers through the ups and downs of the real estate industry, are the hallmarks of the company’s 30-year reputation in the community,” Claus said.

Keys to success:

Claus said she thinks there are many keys to success including: putting in the time, being informed and resourceful; working hard and being your own advocate; and not being afraid to roll up your sleeves to get something done.

She said she treats the company like a person, developing its culture, nurturing employees, teaching ethics and professionalism, leading by example and treating fellow employees with respect.

Claus emphasizes to employees not to forget the company’s history and where they came from, encouraging them to be humble. She said she is grateful for her parents having started the company from scratch in 1984, and for their dedication and hard work for so many years. Throughout the financial crisis, she and her management team remained intact and strong, effectively handling many challenges.

Strategy for next steps: Acquire servicing portfolios from other mortgage lenders; continue to fill key positions to allow for more growth and sales; undergo a major upgrade of the software system regarding the loan origination process aimed at efficiency and customer service; continue growing the insurance agency beyond residential insurance into commercial insurance; expand to Palm Beach County with an office in the fall of this year; create a new residential mortgage program for medical professionals in 2014; over the next three years, establish satellite offices throughout the state.

INA PAIVA CORDLE

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