Another day, another $1 million mortgage.
Some New York City mortgage brokers have settled comfortably into the high-end real estate niche and make only super jumbo loans for customers buying luxury apartments.
Unlike other brokers, they are seldom affected by fluctuations in the overall mortgage market.
"It takes a knowledgeable mortgage broker to handle these markets," said Jerome S. Karr, a partner at Karr & Babush, a Manhattan financial and real estate consulting firm. Often the brokers must handle no-documentation loans for foreign investors and high loan-to-value loans, and get lenders involved in projects with few presold apartments, he said.
Most of the brokers' customers have different needs than someone buying a starter home.
Many foreign investors, for example, want to put property in the name of an offshore corporation. Not all lenders are willing to make those loans, said Melissa Cohn, chairman of Manhattan Mortgage Co. *er advantage over the average broker is her 10 years' experience in this specialized market, she said. Thus, she knows which lenders will meet her customers' needs at the best price.
"Good lenders do not advertise the low rate," she said.
Foreign banks are strong competition for foreign investors' business, she said, because people are comfortable dealing with a bank from their own country. In the past, she has worked with lenders to create a product that will beat foreign bank rates. The bulk of her business is with a New York- based savings bank, she said.
Because their customers are not typical, the brokers are affected by different market influences. Ms. Cohn said she has seen a decrease in business not because of increasing rates but because of a dearth of available luxury apartments.
Nor did the specialized brokers feel the crunch familiar to others when the refinancing boom ended in 1994, said Neil Bader,chief executive officer of Skyscraper Mortgage Co., New York.
"The mortgage companies that dealt with newspaper ads and refinancing are getting destroyed," Mr. Bader said, adding that his business is doing quite well. As a high-end broker, he said, he has customers come to him through referrals, mostly from real estate brokers, financial advisers, and companies for which he does relocations.
One of Mr. Bader's most popular loans for high-end mortgage customers is something called negative pledge financing. Customers take an extra loan and finance more of an apartment's purchase price than the condo or co-op board permits, for the benefit of a tax deduction.
"That is the most common phenomenon in the New York City co-op market," Mr. Bader said.