Masters of the Mortgage
A husband-and-wife team grows their Boston-area mortgage business despite a tough real estate market.
BUSINESS NAME: Bestway Mortgage
OWNERS: Jeffery and Yvonne Toney
LOCATION: Malden, Mass.
Jeffery Toney had been working in the mortgage industry for well over a decade when his wife Yvonne began urging him to go into business for himself. "I kept saying I wasn't ready, and it came to a point in the mortgage industry where they didn't want to pay someone of my experience level what I was worth," he said. "They'd rather pay less money to someone right out of high school—someone much less knowledgeable." So, two years ago, they took the leap and opened their own mortgage company, Bestway Mortgage in Malden, Mass., just outside of Boston.
Going Against the Odds
While running a small business is never easy, the Toneys face the additional challenge of a rocky real estate market impacting the mortgage industry as a whole. "When I got into the business, it was easy to get people houses, and now it's hard because people are saying they don't know if they want to buy now," Jeffery explained. "Or, you get loans but the seller goes into bankruptcy." Yvonne added, "Also, sometimes they decide they just want to rent because they watch the news and they don't think it's a good time to buy."
What's more, while the Internet is a great source of information regarding real estate, it's also a great source of misinformation—especially for some of the Toneys' would-be clients. "The toughest thing is that, when I started in the business, there was no Internet, so the knowledge came from us," said Jeffery. "Nowadays, people go online and they only get part of the idea, but they think they know everything. They'll say, ‘I want a 5 percent rate,' or, ‘I want a loan with no mortgage insurance.' Well, me too! Rates go up to 7-8 percent, and that's what the rates are—there's nothing I can do about it."
The Bestway Advantage
Regardless of the challenges in the mortgage business, the Toneys have managed to grow their company. In fact, they have expanded to include five additional employees. According to Jeffery and Yvonne, the key difference between Bestway and the big-name lenders is their commitment to honesty and customer service. "Other companies out there advertise that they can get you a 6.75 percent rate when rates are in the 7s," explained Jeffery. "They don't tell you they are going to charge you upfront to get the low rate."
Plus, their ABC membership has proven to distinguish their business from the competition as well. "Many people are part of the Better Business Bureau, but ABC is different because when you hear ‘Better Business Bureau,' people kind of shudder—the only time you hear of them is when you report them," Jeffery said. "When you can say you're part of America's Best Companies, it really makes a difference." The Toneys have found that actively marketing their ABC membership on their business materials has helped as well. "When you have the logo from America's Best Companies on your stationery, other companies and customers are very impressed—it's a conversation piece. No matter what size it is, it stands out," said Yvonne. "Also, we have our myABCspace website on our business cards, so we know people go to it," Jeffery added. —Lisa Doyle
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