HAWAII AT WORK
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mortgage loan officer Peter Castillejos says being active in the community helps him do his job better because, he says, people in Hawaii like doing business with people they know. Above, Castillejos last week moderated a business networking group at Buffett 100 in Ward Warehouse.
Making connections, making loans
Peter Castillejos believes his keys to success are getting to know people and offering good service
Peter Castillejos was a young and single man from Chicago when he visited Maui six years ago on vacation with his parents, his sister and his aunt. He fell in love with the islands and moved here as soon as he could. Initially he worked in telecom sales, but later moved into mortgages, eventually joining the downtown office of Charter Funding as a loan officer.
Title: Mortgage loan officer
Job: Arranges mortgage loans for home buyers
Still young but now married, Castillejos is active in groups such as the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, the Honolulu Business Network and the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii. He is a graduate of Glenbard South High School in Glen Ellyn, Ill., and has a bachelor's degree in marketing from Loyola University, in Chicago. Castillejos, 33, lives in the downtown area with his wife, the former Susan Bringas. Their first baby is due in January.
Question: How did you become a loan officer for Charter Funding?
Answer: I had a friend who worked at Charter Funding, and it just so happens that this particular office is about five minutes from my house, and they have a real flexible schedule, so I can work at home, on the road, with my laptop or from the office. And being that my wife is pregnant, it gives me a lot of flexibility.
Q: How long have you been in your current job?
A: I've been in mortgages for two years, and I started at Charter Funding about two months ago.
Q: If you've been in mortgages for two years, who was the other employer?
A: AmeriQuest. But they shut down their local offices here, so I made the move before that happened.
Q: What was your first job ever?
A: I was working at McDonald's. I was working at a drive-through, in Illinois. I was 15, in the suburbs of Chicago, which is where I was from originally.
Q: What brought you to Hawaii?
A: My family and I went to vacation in Maui six years ago, and I loved it. I love the people, I love the culture, and I love the weather. Winters in Chicago can be pretty brutal. So I passed my resumé around and, to make a long story short, somebody made me an offer.
Q: Who was that?
A: That was Sprint Hawaii, because at the time I was in telecom sales. I told my family, I was young and single, let's try it. Now I'm married, and expecting my first child. So now I'm rooted in Hawaii and don't expect to be going anywhere else any time soon.
Q: Who was your "family?"
A: My parents, my sister and my aunt. We all came out here for a family vacation -- and didn't want to go back. (Laughter)
Q: What exactly does a loan officer do?
A: There's two things I do. One is help people purchase their home, by qualifying them for a loan. And the other thing I do is help people refinance their home.
Q: What are some of the skills, would you say, that you have to have to do your job well?
A: Hmmm ... skills ...
Q: Yeah, like, are you good with numbers? That kind of thing.
A: It's a combination of being good with numbers and being good with people, because a large part of my job is finding business, so I do my best to network, and join organizations to get my name out there. I also work closely with Realtors, because a lot of times Realtors are the first people to get ahold of the potential borrower, as they're helping them look for homes. Sometimes they (the borrowers) come to us first, but lot of times it's the Realtor that has the first touch. And in Hawaii, I'm finding that most people do business with people they're comfortable with, so I find that the more people I meet and the better service I provide, then the more referrals I'll receive.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Among the way mortgage loan officer Peter Castillejos, left, scouts for business is to attend brokers' opens -- private showings of homes for sale to people in the real estate field. Last week he viewed a house at 3936 Waokanaka St. in Nuuanu being shown by Krisztina Kollo, right, a Realtor associate for Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties.
Realtors call you because they're trying to get their potential buyers qualified?
A: Exactly, because the Realtors don't want to waste their time showing the homes if their potential buyers aren't qualified to begin with. So it's actually more important for the borrower to get prequalified before they call the Realtor.
Q: How does one qualify for a loan?
A: To qualify for a loan, we ask (potential borrowers) for information based on their credit and their income. Once we find out those two things, we have a better idea of what type of home and what size loan they can afford.
Q: Does Charter Funding actually loan the money or is it just a go-between?
A: Charter Funding is a mortgage banker and a mortgage broker, so we have the ability to lend money, but if, for whatever reason, we can't do it, we can shop the loan to other lenders as well.
Q: Are there potential borrowers sometimes whom you just can't help?
A: If their credit score is really, really bad, yeah.
Q: What would that be?
A: Usually under 500.
Q: What would be a really great score?
A: A maximum score is 850, but as long as the person has a score of at least 680, I can get them a competitive rate.
Q: How long does it take, generally, from start to finish to arrange a loan for somebody?
A: I can get a loan approval in 24 hours, but what takes the longest is getting the appraiser to see the home, dependent on their schedule. But I would say usually one to two weeks.
Q: What's the biggest home loan that you ever put together?
A: $1.2 million.
Q: For a single-family home?
A: For a single-family home, yeah.
Q: Do you ever work on commercial loans?
A: I don't. Not yet, at least.
Q: Does business come to you or do you have to go out and find it?
A: It's both. I guess there's three revenue streams that I have. One is from past clients, who refer me to their friends and family. Another one is from Realtors, and another one is just my own networking and marketing.
Q: I noticed you've been pretty active in community affairs. Does that help or interfere with your ability to do your job?
A: It helps. One thing I've noticed when I was first in a sales position in Hawaii was, even if I had better pricing or a better product, people prefer to do business with people they know. So I figure if I'm more active in the community and the better I know people, the better chance I have to compete for business.
Q: With the housing market so hot in the last few years, I suppose you've generally been pretty busy.
A: It's been busy. I got into it when the market was hot. Before, you would just sit and wait for the phone to ring, but now you have to go look for it. But I'm still pretty busy because of past referrals.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: My spare time? (Laughter) That's a good question. I started taking golf lessons. Other than that, I've been at home trying to make my home a little more baby-friendly.
Q: So is the golfing part of your networking strategy?
A: There's a lot of business done on the golf course, plus we (Charter Funding) sponsor a lot of golf tournaments, so it's in my best interest to learn the game.