By Carrie Ann Salvi
About seven months ago, GuardHill Financial Corp. rode the real estate wave to the South Fork and opened two new offices, one in Southampton and another in East Hampton. Founded in 1992 by CEO Alan Rosenbuam, the company set out with a clear vision to create a residential brokerage firm and has since expanded with a team of more than 70 agents representing one of the area’s leading lending institutions.
“The reason why the Hamptons market is doing so well is that it is a safe haven for capital,” said Brendan Byrne, of Hamptons Financial in Bridgehampton. “It has become an asset class that is equivalent to New York City and Miami.
“The business that I can’t do, I refer to GuardHill,” he added. “They are the best, I don’t even look anywhere else.”
Mr. Byrne said his wife, Amy Beth Stern, sells real estate and also refers all of her clients that seek residential mortgages to GuardHill.
“There is a blockbuster of activity because interest rates are still historically low,” GuardHill Vice President Patti Frank said last week. “But there’s a lot of talk that the Feds will raise rates by the end of this year.”
There are about a dozen agents on the South Fork, said Christopher Minardi, who works out of the East Hampton office on Newtown Lane. “As local as you can get,” Mr. Minardi grew up in East Hampton, is a member of the East Hampton Fire Department, and serves on the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals.
Mr. Minardi called GuardHill Financial the best of the best in mortgage brokers. “Many didn’t ride that wave through last year’s mortgage contraction,” he said. “There’s a reason we’re still here.”
Mr. Minardi explained that most people use the 30-year fixed as a benchmark for mortgage rates in general. “The 30 fixed has been rising off lows in the spring, and this past week have backed off slightly,” he said. “Competitive rates are about 3.875% today.”
Most of the data that drives rates, Mr. Minardi explained, is based on global economic news, which has been poor lately in places like Greece, China and Puerto Rico.
“Bad market news equals lower mortgage rates,” he said. “This is because money flows out of risky stocks and into safer markets like bonds. Low prices for gold and oil are also making the Fed make a difficult decision on raising the prime rate. Overall I see mortgage rates stable for the next few months until the Fed declares an actual date on their decision to address the prime rate.”
GuardHill agents are not just mortgage brokers, according to Ms. Frank, who has been a broker for 21 years. “Now,” she said, “I am a banker.”
“We underwrite our own loans as well as broker them out,” she said. “We have the best pricing and the best opportunity for clients to find products that suit their needs.”
Whether it is a fixed rate or adjustable rate loan, a conventional, jumbo, multi-family, or even foreign national loan, GuardHill helps people obtain financing, even in situations where there may be difficult credit situations or low credit scores. As banking specialists, Ms. Frank said they can often close mortgages within 30 days.
“They help me, my clients, my wife’s clients, and builders to sell homes,” said Mr. Byrne, “in a market where a $5 million home can sell in a day.”
“No matter how difficult or impossible my requests have been, she somehow manages to service all of my real estate dreams,” said Donna Parker, a year-round resident of Southampton who owns Habitat Ltd. in Water Mill. Ms. Parker credited Ms. Frank for being “in large part how I was able to own so many beautiful homes.” She said that Ms. Frank has handled “some of the most challenging and amazing finance packages for me.”