• Joseph Sullivan

Lunch with Joseph: Introduction

Interview | Maylén Rafuls Rosa | July 16, 2020

Welcome to Lunch with Joseph. This is the first installment of several podcasts and accompanying blog posts dealing with all your mortgage questions.

To submit a question for consideration in future episodes, please use the Contact page.

I sat down to have lunch with loan officer Joseph Sullivan today in order to find out a little bit about his past experiences and what drew him to the mortgage business.

Among other things, I learned about his childhood in Germany and how he ended up in San Diego. Most importantly, Joseph’s passion for meeting his clients’ needs shined through. Listen to the podcast to learn more about Joseph!

So Joseph, tell me about what it was like to grow up in Germany.

Can you be more specific?

Just in general. First of all, what were you doing in Germany?

So my dad was in the army, and he was stationed in Germany from pretty much from the time I was born until I was about 12 years old. So we spent at least 10 years in Germany. We spent three years in Stuttgart, three years in Baumholder, and four years in Nuremberg.

And I just went to school there, the Department of Defense schools. It's a different type of culture; it feels like military kids really stick together. It's basically a little bubble that exists inside the culture of Germany.

And do you feel like you were able to experience the culture outside that little bubble?

Yeah, we used to go travel all over Germany. All over Europe. We had friends that were non-military and that were German citizens. One of our babysitters when we were younger, was a German lady. She taught me how to knit.

Oh, really?! That's really interesting!

I learned how to knit when I was a kid.

And what would you say? What did you notice? I mean, what was different about growing up in Germany versus perhaps growing up in the US?

The Department of Defense schools, I think, were really good about getting us moving forward on everything. When I came back to United States, we were so far ahead of everybody in math and everything else. I think the Department of Defense schools are just really good about education.

So you felt like you were academically prepared?

Oh, by far. Yeah.

So when you move back from Germany, where did you go?

Oh, we… well, the first time we came back from Germany, we lived in Georgia. Then we went back to Germany again. And then we came back to Georgia again and then the third time we came back, we moved to El Paso, Texas, where I went to finish high school and went to college.

So what did you study in college?

Computer science and math.

Tell me about that experience.

Um, well, I was always really fascinated with computers, and I love numbers and math. So it kind of lent itself pretty, pretty easily to studying computer science. I worked in a multimedia NASA-sponsored lab for five years and I even interned at Johns Hopkins for NASA as well.

So how does a computer engineer/science/math major get into the mortgage business?

So… my grandfather, when he passed away, we went to his funeral in Arizona, and a couple of my cousins were in California doing loans and real estate and they asked me if I wanted to learn the business. So I came down, and within a year of being here, I owned my own branch, my own real estate company.

Very impressive… what kind of drew you to the field?

Um, well, it kind of happened on accident. My cousins were running a real estate and mortgage company, and I came in to work with them, and I actually didn't know that I was going to like it so much. And I just saw that there was a need for people who were going to do things the right way.

I saw a lot of agents, a lot of loan officers that were really…they didn't really understand the field. Like, it was during the subprime boom and they were giving a lot of people subprime loans even though they didn't need to give them that, and that's why I went out learned Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and what they call A-paper loans and learned how to do that. And when I did that, it took me so much further.

All the businesses were going under, and we were doing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and giving 30-year fixes while everybody else was giving adjustable rates and negative amortization loans, just really, really poor quality loans for the for the type of people who were applying for them. They were more concerned with how much money they could make on the deal, rather than what the borrower actually needed.

And when I saw that need, that's why I went out and learned it and did everything I could to figure out how I could best help the clients, versus, you know, how to best make money. That was kind of the idea that most people had, how could they get rich faster?

So when you say doing things the right way, what you really mean is focusing on what your client needs, right?


And then making money is a happy coincidence after that?

Well, we won't talk about that.

Why not?

I mean, it's definitely a lucrative field. But that's not really the focus. The focus is trying to figure out how we can save people the most money, get them the best deal and put it together in a new unique way that's going to help them. And of course we get paid for it. It's my job.

And how'd you end up in San Diego?

I actually came down on a vacation. And when I came down on vacation, I had never visited San Diego before. And I just thought it was an amazing city. And I just kept coming back, you know, every month or every other month for about a year straight. And finally, I just sold everything I had and decided to move here. Drove down, put a deposit down on a rental and just moved here and just decided to start everything all over again. And I've been here ever since and haven't regretted it.

How long has it been?

About 12 years.

Wow. Well, that's awesome. So we're having lunch right now. Tell me what are you eating, for lunch?

Aguachile negro.

What's that?

It's a marinated shrimp cured in a chili sauce with vegetables and aguachile negro I think is made from Chile de a árbol, is that right?

I don't know. We're looking it up right now.

[Joseph types on his computer] Alright, let’s see, aguachile negro.

[phone rings]

Oh, your phone never stops ringing.

Nope. Let’s see what kind of chile is in there… chipotle.

Chipotle chile. Okay.

Cool. Well, thank you so much. The purpose of this interview was just to get an inside glimpse as to some of your past experiences. Is there anything that you would like to add for our viewers, for our listeners?

Umm… I would just say that right now rates are at a historic low. And if your [current] rate is above, you know, 3%, then we should talk.

For a refi?

For a refinance or if you're planning and planning to purchase anything, right now is a good time to do it because rates are so low. The cost of money is so, so low.

Awesome. Well, thank you very much, Joseph. Great talking to you.

All right. Thank you.

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