Newsletter: March 2024

Here we are in March. Spring has finally come, and with that some warmer weather…and of course…the pollen. Sure, the weather is warmer, but that green stuff is everywhere. Sneezing, coughing…well, you get the picture. Even with all that pollen I hope you’re finding time to enjoy springtime and all it has to offer.

Speaking of March, can you believe it’s almost over? And with the end of March comes the end of the first quarter of 2024. Did you meet your goals? Did you accomplish everything you wanted? I certainly hope so.

But now it’s time to prepare for the new quarter and make some new goals. I was thinking about this the other day, and talking with a friend about where I’m headed and what I plan to accomplish in the second quarter. As always, she had lots of questions for me, and I had lots of answers for her. We had a great conversation, passing ideas back and forth.

But one question caught me by surprise. It actually made me stop.

“How do you see yourself as a mortgage broker?” she asked.

Really, it was a good question, but right then it wasn’t about me or my self esteem. It wasn’t even about confidence. Right then it was all about two little words that described my whole career. Yep, two little words. Mortgage Broker. Those were the words that made me stop.


Because I realized my friend thought of me as a mortgage broker, and so did a lot of other people. But she got it wrong. I’m not a mortgage broker.

Surprised to hear that? She was too.

You see, I’m actually a Direct Lender. And I said as much.

“Wha–, wh–, what do you mean?” she asked. Her face blushed. Her mouth hung open. I can’t quite describe the look on her face. Flabbergasted comes to mind. Yep, maybe she was flabbergasted. Embarrassed too.

I tried to help her out, but her expression made me laugh, and all I could manage was, “There’s a difference.”

“Care to enlighten me?” she squeaked.

“Well…of course.”

Now don’t get me wrong. Direct Lenders and Mortgage Brokers both play important roles in the mortgage industry. Both are responsible to help buyers find the right loan so they can live in a home they call their own. And both are responsible for ensuring those buyers have stable income and an adequate credit history. But there are some differences between the two.

Let’s take a look at a few:

Origination Source:

Direct Lenders: A direct lender is an employee of the bank. The bank, or other financial institution is also called a direct lender, and they provide and fund loans directly to their borrowers. They also underwrite and fund in-house, using the bank’s money based on their specific lending criteria.

Mortgage Brokers: A mortgage broker is a middleman who connects borrowers with lenders. They work with many lenders at one time to find the best options for their clients.

Product Offerings:

Direct Lenders: Direct lenders have a specific range of products and loan programs they can offer. These include conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and Jumbo loans. They may not have a wide range of products like a mortgage broker does, but in certain circumstances they can offer specialized products for unique situations and requirements.

Mortgage Brokers: Mortgage brokers can offer products from multiple lenders. They can shop around and compare loans from different lenders.

Underwriting Process:

Direct Lenders: A direct lender handles the entire mortgage process in-house. This includes underwriting and closing. They make the final decision on whether to approve or deny a loan based on their own standards.

Mortgage Brokers: A mortgage broker works with lenders on behalf of their borrowers. They do not conduct underwriting and do not make the final decision on whether to approve or deny a loan. They must rely on each lender’s standards.

Rates and Fees:

Direct Lenders: Direct lenders set their own interest rates and fees.

Mortgage Brokers: Mortgage brokers do not directly set their rates or fees. They negotiate with lenders on behalf of their borrowers to secure competitive rates and terms.

Client Relationship:

Direct Lenders: A direct lender works directly with the client.

Mortgage Brokers: A mortgage broker works as a middleman between a client and multiple other lenders.

And there you have it. Both play a very important role. Even though our main goal is to find and secure the right loan for a borrower, we operate a little differently. But that’s not a bad thing at all! Either option could be a great fit.

By the way, I asked my friend if that answered her question about how I see myself as a lender. She smiled and said, “John, I know who you are. You’re trustworthy and honest. You always find ways to collaborate and work as a team. More importantly, you always do the right thing.”

Wow! That felt good!

So, if you’ve got questions about a new mortgage or a current mortgage, give me a call and let’s explore some options. You can always find me at (865) 745-5626.

Here’s to spring and the new quarter!

And don’t forget…Let’s Mortgage!

John Fleming, Jr.
People’s Home Equity
Loan Originator | NMLS 1850409
(865) 745-5626

P.S. Once again housing in East Tennessee remains limited for first-time homebuyers and other disadvantaged groups. I can help. Send them my way and I’ll find and secure the best option for them

Food For Thought: According to Justin Bailey at East Tennessee Realtors, the Housing Market is still showing a shortage of affordable homes. By affordable he means homes priced below $300,000. That’s down 21% from November, 2023. And the Feds have announced they may not cut rates in March after all. That’s disappointing for sure. Even so, there’s still some good news. Homebuyers can still secure a mortgage that’s right for them. And I’m committed to help Call me at (865) 745-5626 to discuss options.


Easter isn’t far away, and I know everyone will get their fill of chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, chocolate truffles, chocolate candies, and pretty much chocolate everything. So, after all that chocolate how ‘bout something along the line of…cheese? The Knoxville Cheese Fest is scheduled for April 11th, 12th, and 13th. World Cheese Judge Michael Landis is back, and he’s ready to share his expertise on all things cheese. Sampling local, domestic, and international cheeses sounds like a fun day to me. So maybe I’ll see you there for a cheezy good time.