Loan Officer Tara Taylor Finds Joy in Helping Create New Homeowners

December 11, 2018

Tara TaylorTara Taylor says she always thought she’d be a real estate agent. But when she bought her first house, Taylor was immediately intrigued by the mortgage process, asking detailed questions in an effort to demystify the process of obtaining a home loan. The business owner took notice and offered her a job.

“I enjoyed the lending process so much, I immediately started working for the company that was doing my loan,” she says.

More than 15 years later, Taylor is still in the lending business, working as a Slidell-based mortgage loan originator for Gulf Coast Bank & Trust. She has also emerged as one of the most enthusiastic proponents of assistance for first-time homebuyers in Louisiana, raising awareness for innovative programs that turn renters into homebuyers.

“I found that a lot of people who could qualify for a house just did not have the means to save up for a down payment or closing costs,” she says. “That became a niche product of mine.”

Student to Teacher

Taylor says that in her early days in the mortgage business, she learned the ins and outs of the industry and of homebuyer assistance thanks to an underwriter who walked her through every mistake she made.

“Sitting under her wing helped me become the loan officer I am today,” she says. “I’m very grateful.”

These days Taylor is the one doing the educating, teaching several classes most months on the first-time home-buying process and the assistance available.

Taylor has closed dozens of loans in 2018 for first-time homebuyers, many of them facilitated through homebuyer-assistance programs from the Louisiana Housing Corporation. “The majority of those loans had some type of down-payment assistance attached to them,” she says. “I love the process, and I love the people that are involved.”

Down-Payment Assistance

When a customer seeking a home contacts her, Taylor says her first step is to determine their goals. Next she inquires whether they’re more sensitive about monthly payments or up-front costs, which can determine her approach for obtaining a loan or down-payment assistance. “Nine out of 10 people say they’re more worried about out-of-pocket expenses as opposed to the payment,” she says.

Taylor says she relies on several homebuyer-assistance programs to help her clients realize their dream of owning their own home, including initiatives spearheaded by the LHC.

LHC offers access to low-interest loans — as well as up to 4 percent assistance for a down payment and closing costs — to qualifying Louisiana residents looking to purchase their first home. Homebuyers must have a credit score of at least 640 and must meet income requirements based on their location. Assistance is available statewide for home purchases of up to $435,000.

“I think the program is amazing,” she says. “It has not only helped people, it has changed lives for people.”

Making an Impact

Taylor says that when she was recently considering which lending company to work with, she wanted to partner with a community bank that embraced down-payment assistance. Gulf Coast Bank was a perfect fit, she says.

“It’s just a passion of mine,” she says. “I just absolutely love helping and it gives me great joy to see families turn from renters to homeowners. I just have a loving heart for people and want to see them in a better position.”

To maximize the impact of the assistance, Taylor says she works with Realtors who are effective at negotiating contracts and who are often able to convince sellers to pay some or all of the buyer’s closing costs.

“When you match those two together, there’s countless times where customers get their money back at closing or they spend very small amount out of pocket, less than it would cost them to rent,” she says.

She says every loan she closes has a unique story, but the first-time homebuyers are her favorite. “They are the best clientele that you could ever work with because they are so grateful that you go the extra mile to get that assistance.”

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