March 13, 2018
HDF provides both free homebuyer counseling services and lending services including downpayment and closing cost assistance. Not all of our staff have worked on both the counseling and lending department at HDF, but Kayte Graveline did! Let’s hear from her today how her experience was like.
What is a typical day like for you at HDF?
I’m currently the only Loan Processor at HDF and a typical day for me mainly consists of disclosing on our lending loans, discussing details about current files with clients, lenders, and our counselors, and following up with clients who already are in our pipelines that we need documents for – whether they’ve been approved already or not. I am essentially the middleman between the borrowers and our underwriters to collect documentation and information needed to move loans forward and get the borrower one step closer to either approval by our loan committees or to the closing table. My role consists of constant conversation between myself, our underwriters along with our lenders and the main goal is to get the borrowers to the finish line as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
How did you come to work at HDF or the real estate industry?
Before I started at HDF, I had my real estate license as a realtor. I’ve never worked with HDF as a realtor, though. My family on my dad side comes from a long line of real estate agents and brokers. I have an uncle who is an appraiser, another uncle who is a building inspector for a large city in CT and another uncle who has 30 years’ experience in commercial lending. My grandparents also owned a real estate agency and a contracting company for many years. My cousin, her husband and I went for a real estate licensing at the same and thought maybe we’d revive the real estate business that my grandparents had laid the foundation for, but we all had full time positions as well so that idea never came to fruition. Maybe someday, though. Family gatherings are always interesting when the conversation turns to the market or anything else real estate related because everyone has their unique opinions based on their area of expertise – it can be pretty thought provoking.
When I first started at HDF, I was a foreclosure assistant. We don’t do foreclosure anymore, but when we did we had two foreclosure counselors and I worked as a foreclosure assistant. That was interesting and intense (laughing). When the foreclosure program ended at HDF, I became a Leads Manager. Once the position for processing opened, I moved in to this position. My positions with HDF have allowed me to experience both the counseling and lending side of our company which I believe can lend unique perspective to our processes. I know what it looks like for our clients to be just starting with HDF in their initial application process all the way through to the moment they get told that they clear to close and their goal of homeownership has been finally obtained, which is really, really great.
What position has been the most interesting position for you?
I think all the positions are interesting in their own rights. My current position as a processor is interesting because each file that lands on my desk must been looked at with a different lens. No two borrowers/ lending files are alike and different scenarios, questions and sometimes difficulties arise that make the position ever changing, but also, a good learning and growing experience daily.
The foreclosure program that I worked for was also extremely interesting both at the time that I was doing it and even now in hindsight. I was seeing the worst-case scenario of homeownership and the borrowers we assisted were experiencing hardships and stresses that were unimaginable. The foreclosure clients we assisted came from all different lenders and servicers. In a sense that position was really rewarding to me because to be able to help someone keep their home was a humbling experience. Coming from that to now being apart of our lending team makes me realize how important the education and the counseling and due diligence that our underwriters put into making sure homeowners are financially suited for the loans they are receiving with us is.
How do you feel working in the same company as your mom?
Deb’s cool. She’s a great source of knowledge and when I have questions about eligibility or anything counseling related she’s always helpful. I respect her work ethic and although I may be biased, I think she’s a great manager. I know how much the people who work for her mean to her and I find her dedication to them and her work very admirable. So yeah, she’s a pretty good coworker (laughing) but she is an even better mom and grandmother and I’m lucky that I get to see her as much as I do.
What is your work goal in the next two years?
It has been a year and a half since I joined the lending department, so my goal is to become better versed in more things lending. I’m excited to see where we will go next as a company in terms of new products and new lands (like Massachusetts). Every time we introduce something new it’s a chance to learn things from a different angle which is both exciting and challenging. I’m looking forward to growing professionally and alongside HDF.
Could you share about the most important lesson you’ve learned since joining HDF?
I guess the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is not to desensitize myself to people’s wants, needs and goals. Sometimes I find that when I process loan after loan, all the numbers start to look alike. But when I get the chance to speak with people and they express their goals towards homeownership in their conversations you realize that these are people with huge dreams and they’ve put in a lot of hard work to make it to my desk. It brings you back down to earth and halts that paper pushing mentality that you can easily slip into. Helping somebody to obtain something that can ultimately change their life is huge and shouldn’t be discounted. So I try to remember that people are people not just names on paper or loan numbers, that’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned.
What do you do when you take a break during the days?
Most of the days that I leave the office I run errands I like to play a game “called how much can I get done in the next 60 mins so I don’t have to bring a 2-year-old into the store with me later.” I never win. I also spend my lunch hour paying bills or making appointments/calls. It’s quiet time that I wouldn’t necessarily get it when I am at home so I get done what I needed to get done.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I don’t have a lot of free time, but when I do I get a little bit crafty. They know me by name at Michaels crafts. I get asked to do decorations and invitations for birthday parties, baby showers, and weddings. I do floral centerpieces, diaper cakes (I love a good diaper cake). I’ve even done some projects for employees here. I also play softball in the summer on a few different teams. Recently Jackie and I have started kickboxing which is a lot of fun. Most of my time is spent with my son Hudson. We spend time reading, and he loves to cook so we do a lot of baking, mostly blueberry muffins. We also like to dress up and play pretend. Lately, he loves to dress up as an astronaut or a bug catcher. He also really likes to visit the Danbury office. While he’s here, he plays with Deb’s Sandbox or delivers copies to Mark and Jackie. He is so much fun.
What is your favorite animal?
I’ve always liked bugs, So I guess I’d have to say a Katydid. They aren’t very cute but they make a cool sound. They are the bugs that you hear on hot summer night – it sounds like “katy did it”. My mom used to call me katydid when I was little.
If you have unlimited money and time off from work, what are you going to do?
I’m going to Disneyworld!!! And then I’m taking a nap.
Thanks Kayte for a fun interview! Keep making more diaper cakes – they look awesome!