Universal Mortgage is planning to open a Brooklyn Heights office, which will specialize in four- to five-unit cooperative buildings, the firm announced today. Universal Mortgage spokesperson Stacey Clapp said in a press release that the new branch, to open next month at 146 Montague Street, between Henry and Clinton streets, would be one of the few in the area able to specialize in helping buyers get loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The new office will be led by the group’s president and founder, Norman Calvo.
Universal Mortgage vice president Edward Ades said that the move was in part a way of entrenching the company more deeply into the community.
“Over [the] past few years we have expanded our operation into the actual neighborhoods we work in,” Ades said in the release.
“By doing so we are more accessible to our clients, and more importantly, part of the community.” The firm’s Brooklyn clients include condominium buildings at 475 Sterling Place and 560 Seventh Avenue in Prospect Heights. Universal also has branches in Manhattan and Prospect Heights.
Universal is not the only firm to play up its FHA services, however.
FHA financing has been considered a major boon for condo buyers in the down market, because it allows them to refinance and purchase homes using low down payments.
But, Ross Weinstein, co-founder of Brooklyn-based Union Square Mortgage Group, said that larger groups like Universal Mortgage won’t have the same rapport with customers.
“The problem with bigger firms is they don’t give the individual attention,” Weinstein said. A long-time proponent of FHA approval programs, he said that there are only three groups — National Condo Advisors, Project Support Services and his own group — that have been offering FHA approval services aggressively. Still, he said he isn’t surprised that other firms, like his, are catching on.
“It’s good to see more people are paying attention to FHA in the neighborhood,” Weinstein said. “I guess more people are catching on.”
National Condo Advisors President Gary Goldman, whose most recent projects include the Edge development in Brooklyn, agreed, saying that getting FHA approval for clients is now an essential part of business.
“It’s absolutely the trend in the market right now,” Goldman said. “No purchase can get approved with contract financing with less than 20 percent down.”