Danielle Smith and NOLA Lending Group Connect First-Time Homebuyers With Key Resources

February 6, 2020

Danielle Gilyot Headshot

NOLA Lending Group has a long record of helping first-time homebuyers across Louisiana and beyond achieve their homeownership dreams. It’s a complex effort that takes a dedicated team of mortgage professionals, including Danielle Smith, mortgage operations director for the company, which is a division of Fidelity Bank.

As mortgage operations director, Smith manages the departments that handle loan files once they come in from the loan officers. When a loan is issued, the processing, underwriting and closing is done in the company’s operations division, which Smith oversees.

“Once a loan officer contracts with a customer, they find the right product for them and they start the process,” Smith says. “We essentially take it over from there and help them get to a smooth and easy closing.”

Let’s take a closer look at how NOLA Lending helps connect homebuyers with important resources from the Louisiana Housing Corporation.

Assessing Individual Needs

When connecting prospective homebuyers to mortgage products, Smith says, NOLA Lending takes a very individualized approach. Smith says the first step in the loan process is for NOLA’s dedicated and knowledgeable sales team to counsel individual customers and assess their unique needs.

“Our loan officers take their time and get to know those clients, and make sure that they're doing right by them because a home is definitely not just a place for you to live. It's a place where your family grows, it's a place where your kids go to school, it's a community that you're involved in.”

First-time Homebuyer Programs

Smith says securing a mortgage that is affordable for the client is key, and first-time homebuyer programs through the LHC are frequently utilized to help buyers achieve their dream of home ownership. 

“I think it's one of our specialty areas,” Smith says. “We do very well in assessing the needs of the client, especially first-time homebuyers — that first big purchase that they're making.”

Smith says the Mortgage Revenue Bond Assisted Program and the Mortgage Revenue Bond HOME Program have been popular among customers. This program helps prospective homebuyers who are at 80% area median income or less and may not have enough money to meet down payment and closing costs. The program has interest rates that are below market level.

Smith says another popular resource has been the Soft Second program, which offers qualified first-time homebuyers in 51 Louisiana parishes up to $60,000 in assistance toward purchasing a home under a state program funded through disaster-recovery dollars. “Most are surprised at the range of options that are available to them,” she says.

Good Business

Smith says offering the LHC resources to first-time homebuyers gives the company access to a clientele that otherwise would not be able to serve. 

“I think that's very important, especially in these days where buying a home is the beginning of what we call generational wealth,” she says. “Not only does real estate give you the immediate need of finding a place for you and your family to live, but it's something that you can pass down to your kids, and your kids can pass down to their kids.”

Smith says one of the biggest hurdles to home ownership is being able to save that money for the down payment or closing costs. 

“Providing that assistance with a grant or with a soft second mortgage gives them the opportunity to do that and focus on other things like buying furniture, getting moving trucks available, turning on their utilities,” she says. “They don't have to worry about spending all of their money in order to buy that house.”

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