After working through tough times, the advice Fairway senior loan officer Phil Ganz for hesitant homebuyers is this: Just get started.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in early 2020, Phil Ganz knew he had a choice. He could hunker down, or he could keep showing up to work. He chose the latter.
“I just kept on working,” Ganz said. “I went into the office -- I never stopped.”
It’s not that Ganz didn’t think the virus was real. But he remembered the economic downturn following 9/11, when the global turmoil of the attacks thwarted his post-college plans.
Instead of joining the Peace Corps, he found himself working as a telemarketer for Ameriquest Mortgage, taking whatever job he could find to get by. Eventually, he left Ameriquest and worked his way up to being a mortgage broker and loan officer at other companies.
Ganz, now a senior loan officer with Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation (which owns Home.com), is a long way from those struggles. But he hasn’t forgotten what it was like when work — and money — were scarce.
So rather than letting the pandemic upheaval get to him, Ganz doubled down.
“I just didn’t stop, and I grew,” he said. “I just kept positive and focused.”
"It's like going to prom -- just take someone and have fun"
Ganz applies that mentality to the homebuyers he works with, too. He advocates for people to become homeowners as early as possible so they can reap the benefits of compound interest as their properties gain value over time.
“The beauty of America is you can put little or no money down and get 100% gain,” Ganz said.
He’s not a sit-on-the-sidelines kind of guy, and he doesn’t want his clients to be either. And he sees social media as a culprit in prospective homebuyers’ reticence to jump into the market.
A fear of not finding the perfect home, or buying a house that doesn’t measure up to their peers’, prevents people from buying.
“When someone says, ‘I can’t buy a home,’ I hear, ‘I can’t buy what I want,'” Ganz said.
But they miss out on the many benefits of homeownership while they’re waiting for the “right” house to come along.
“It’s like going to prom,” Ganz said. “Just take someone and have fun.”
Wanting your first house to be your dream house is unrealistic, according to the Boston native. Homeownership has a learning curve, and you can’t skip the first steps — learning about the market, working on your finances, going through the application process, figuring it out along the way.
And while the idea of buying a house may seem like a lot to take on, it’s more doable when you take it step by step.
“Start from square one,” Ganz advised. “It’s only overwhelming if you get engaged before the first date.”
Besides, he added, what you want in a house — and the trends you admire — will change. There’s no sense holding out hope that you’ll find your forever home sooner rather than later when you can buy a home at a low interest rate now.
“The perfect home today is not the perfect home tomorrow,” he said.
“Go at your own pace. But start.”
Of course, if you do find your forever home on the first try, that’s great. But that doesn’t mean you won’t want to purchase investment properties to build your retirement savings and grow your family’s wealth.
Buying a home teaches you valuable financial and life skills, and they’re worth developing even if you don’t know how you’ll use them down the road.
For Ganz, it’s all about being open to the new opportunities life gives you. That’s how a business lunch and the Kentucky Derby led him to meet Jay Leno on the set of “You Bet Your Life.”
Ganz was wearing a horse suit for a Derby party when he got an email inviting him to apply for the show. He submitted his video then and there, the suit caught the producers’ eyes, and soon enough, he was in Los Angeles and on set with his idol.
He tries to impart that same drive to his clients — even those who are nervous about diving into homeownership.
“Everyone has their own adventure,” Ganz said. “Go at your own pace. But start.”
To learn more about Phil, visit his website makefloridayourhome.com.