Just before the housing bubble burst, Mark Fleury sold his home in Michigan and moved his family south.
They were part of the mass exodus that took place when the economy tanked and many affected by the Great Recession – including him and his wife, Anita – lost their jobs. In 2007, the company he worked for closed its doors as massive layoffs hit throughout the Detroit area. They weren’t sure where they would move, only that they had to go.
Online, they found Kingsport. They came for a bus tour of the city and, impressed with the enthusiasm and of the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and helpfulness of the local newcomers’ organization, they decided to move here.
Five years later, they’re still here. Mark, with more than 20 years of mortgage lending experience in Michigan, went to work at Hometown Mortgage and Eastman Credit Union before deciding to open a new mortgage office in the Holston Business Development Center.
The office is a new branch of Reliant Bank Mortgage, a 7-year-old Nashville-based company that opened with the idea of a more personal, “Clearly Better” way of banking. Reliant is now a $360 million financial institution with four financial centers, two mortgage offices and more than 80 employees, and the ability to serve mortgage customers in 46 states.
Mark said he’s enjoying the slower pace, lighter traffic, warmer climate, beautiful scenery and friendly neighbors – not to mention the fact that there’s no state income tax. Though it’s been a bit of a culture shock for them and their children, both he and his wife feel like God led them here.
Mark said he’s excited about the opportunity to bring a new business to the area – and he’s hiring. After helping thousands of people buy homes and counseling many more to prepare them for future home ownership, he says he wants to provide a “Clearly Better” home-buying experience and help his clients avoid common mortgage mistakes.
He said he never got into subprime lending – the giving of loans to those who don’t qualify under conventional guidelines – because he just didn’t feel right about it. He may have been labeled ‘conservative’ as a result, he said, but the ‘monster’ created in the subprime lending industry has been devastating – especially in his home state of Michigan where foreclosures were rampant.
But now, the housing industry is on a rebound,” said Roger Williams, president of the mortgage division at Reliant Bank.
“At a time where the housing industry is finally recovering from one of the deepest housing crises in the history of the United States, it’s a wonderful opportunity to provide Clearly Better home-buying experiences and to apply the 25 years of lending experience that he’s had,” Williams said.
“Having someone with Mark’s attitude is very refreshing in contrast to the experience the housing industry has went through as a result of subprime lending and lenders who didn’t have the same concern for borrowers and their home-buying.”
Williams said it’s now an attractive time to buy a home because interest rates are historically low, home prices are the lowest they’ve been in a decade, and the government is encouraging home ownership under a more accountable system.
Mark said he works to show his customers that what they qualify for isn’t necessarily what they can afford – and that individual factors must be considered to determine what they can. He says it’s all about guiding them in the right direction, whether they buy a house now or in the future.
“I’m going to be honest with people,” he said. “I would rather advise them and get them in a position [to buy in the future] – and, for most people, it’s not as long as they might think. For most people, it’s a matter of fixing a few things and saving additional money.”
When people are looking to buy a home but aren’t ready, he can help them set realistic expectations and work with their finances to reach a point where they can buy a home they can truly afford – and know fully what they’re getting themselves into.
To schedule a mortgage appointment, to find out how you can join Mark’s team, or if you’re a realtor looking for a good lender to partner with, you can call his office at 423-578-7205.