Guaranteed Rate, a mortgage and loan provider that has offices nationally, arrived in Watertown in November of 2020 under the leadership of Lorie and Mark Converse. The couple met almost 10 years ago when Mrs. Converse worked at a different lending agency and Mr. Converse was a real estate broker.
Seven years ago they decided that they wanted to work together and have more control over the process of loans and mortgages than they would in a different company. The couple was adamant about finding a company that enabled them to offer “top-of-the-line technology in customer service.”
They were contacted by Guaranteed Rate not long after they began researching and Mrs. Converse said the reason they decided to go with Guaranteed Rate is, “They have great programs and they have a very good VA program as well.”
Another consideration for the Converse’s was Guaranteed Rate’s national presence. Since the company exists across the United States, the couple can assist both those moving into the north country from other states and locals moving away. This is particularly important to them because of the presence of Fort Drum.
“What’s important to us is being by the 10th Mountain Division, because they move so much,” Mrs. Converse said. “We get a connection with someone and they can always come back and say, ‘Hey, I’m moving to Washington State or Texas,’ and we can still help refer them to another place.”
With the presence of Fort Drum and soldiers moving in and out of the area all of the time, the Converses wanted to be able to help them as much and as easily as possible. Specializing in VA loans they work to streamline the process as much as possible.
“Probably 70% of our business right now is VA loans,” Mr. Converse said. “It’s such a huge part of this area due to Fort Drum.”
Mr. Converse spoke about the large number of soldiers that look at homes to buy before they’ve actually moved in-state.
“Our digital mortgage allows them to easily apply online,” he said. “When they do start looking, the Realtor they they’re working with is confident that they’re going to be able to actually purchase a home.”
Mrs. Converse added, “We’re available all the time. We also have apps on our own phones, we’re able to look at anything that we need to for the consumer.”
She said that they don’t stop working once it’s five o’clock, or a weekend or vacation. They are dedicated to helping their customers get the best loans they can so they can find the home they want. According to them both, being available at most times is “really important “ to them, because it means they get to help the most people find loans to fit their needs.
Guaranteed Rate also does USDA loans, which are important to the north country because of how overwhelmingly rural the area is. The Converses tout this loan as especially good for the north country since it allows homeowners to buy houses outside city limits with no down payment and “finance most, if not all, of your closing costs.”
USDA loans, according to the Converses, are something that Guaranteed Rate has specialists on hand for to help homeowners get what they need to buy houses outside of urban areas. Those specialists also make getting a loan “a much easier process in this company” than in others they’ve had experience with.
Guaranteed Rate, nationally, offers sponsorships to a wide variety of programs, from fishing and other sports to professional poker and drag racing. The Converses, through their business budget and the increasing revenue from growing this past year, have sponsored five local golf tournaments this year, among other activities. Mrs. Converse said they sponsored the Healthy Kids Running Series in Carthage, which promotes active living and healthy lifestyles in the north country, and are sponsoring a local trunk-or-treat this Halloween.
“We’re sponsoring Real Men Wear Pink, a cornhole tournament,” she added. Real Men Wear Pink raises money for breast cancer awareness and was held at the Exhibition Hall in Watertown on October 23.
The Converse’s are also doing a tree for the North Country Festival of Trees this winter, which will be staged in the Salmon Run Mall from Nov. 26 through Dec. 4. The couple hopes, as their client base grows and they become more well known, to sponsor more events and local activities.
“Giving back to the community is huge for us. That’s something that we really want to emphasize over the next several years,” Mr. Converse said.
The Converses focus on helping the north country secure loans drives them to research and gain knowledge on the many programs Guaranteed Rate offers. They have begun offering jumbo loans, which allows buyers to get a loan above the maximum amount allowed by other lenders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and have looked into other options for the north country as well.
“That’s definitely something that we need to start pushing in the future,” Mrs. Converse said. “This company is so large, with so many programs, and so many options.”