Janis Bronstein: Mortgage Solutions On The East End

As a seasoned loan officer with CrossCountry Mortgage, Janis Bronstein brings expertise and a personalized touch to the world of mortgage lending in the Hamptons. With a deep understanding of the local market, Bronstein aims to meet her clients’ financial goals and aspirations. Whether it’s a first-time homebuyer seeking guidance or a seasoned investor looking to expand their portfolio, Bronstein’s goal is to provide comprehensive support every step of the way with tailored solutions that align with their unique needs and circumstances. She spoke to us about how she leverages many mortgage products and resources to offer her clients competitive rates and flexible terms.

Bronstein is also involved in various local initiatives and organizations. Whether assisting clients with purchasing their dream homes or refinancing existing properties, Bronstein describes how she is committed to delivering exceptional service and personalized attention.

Janis Bronstein. Photo: Niels Media

As the Hamptons real estate market continues to thrive, what unique challenges and opportunities do luxury homebuyers face when securing a mortgage in this coveted region?

With Suffolk County conforming limits at $1,149,825, according to public record data, all buyers are luxury buyers in the Hamptons!

One of the challenges homebuyers face is knowing what financing options are available to them with their financial profile. With high-net-worth buyers, the format of their income profile affects the type of mortgage financing they can secure.

Luxury buyers are savvy buyers, however, not always familiar with banking guidelines and do not understand what is available for their purchase. This is where I come in to advise my clients on what is available and help them secure the knowledge up front rather than figure out their bank formula later.

Many high-net-worth borrowers are surprised when they learn that perhaps their filings are non-traditional. It comes down to nuts and bolts at the end of the day. What will my interest rate be now? What will my carrying cost be? When can I expect to look at refinancing in the future? Part of my role is to review the income documentation up front so my clients know exactly what their options are and which programs they fit into.

These homebuyers are typically very strong borrowers. Like everything with financing, there are layers to this, and each luxury buyer comes with their set of financial circumstances. As unique as each individual is, so are the buyers. Luxury buyers typically purchase properties and hold title in a single-formed entity LLC for privacy purposes and, in some cases, 1031 exchange rules apply if they are working to get a tax gain from a previous sale and roll it into a new one.

A standard Hamptons buyer seeking financing will show strong tax returns and financials and will qualify for the mortgage. For standard buyers, depending on the loan amount, the down payment can range from 20 percent to 30 percent and have the option of a fixed-rate mortgage or adjustable-rate mortgage principal and interest only.

Non-traditional luxury buyers often show very strong financials, however, there are complexities with tax returns that offset their income in a classic underwriting sense. Most buyers have unique income streams and I find this to be the majority of Hamptons buyers.

In this case, I address the borrower’s profile to get creative with the best possible financing solution. Perhaps we look into bridge financing in addition to acquiring a mortgage on the subject property.

The great news is solutions are out there! Through my team at CrossCountry Mortgage, I offer non-QM mortgages for non-traditional borrowers. Non-QM Mortgages are designed for borrowers who may not meet the requirements of standard loan programs. Non-QM loans typically have a special income qualification. They are designed for people with unique income streams. A Non-QM loan is a type of loan that allows borrowers with non-traditional income/past or present credit events to be approved for a mortgage. They are an excellent option for those out-of-the-box borrowers.

The critical piece for luxury buyers in securing a mortgage for a luxury property is to get your income documentation reviewed upfront to know exactly what your options are and which program you fit into. Then there is peace of mind and knowledge of carry cost.

With interest rates fluctuating and economic uncertainties looming, how do you advise clients to navigate the mortgage landscape to secure the best possible terms for their luxury property purchases?

I advise my clients that it is a great time to buy now. After witnessing firsthand over the past 25-plus years of the real estate market in the Hamptons, one thing I can say is that, hands down, it is the most solid investment one can make. For example, just to show how resilient the Hamptons market was in 2008 with the subprime meltdown, it only took two years for the market to recover and start forward motion again. I tell my clients always to have a solid exit strategy in the event they come upon changes in circumstances. Even in lighter rental years, the seasonal rental market is robust and can help one weather unexpected storms. During the Covid-19 pandemic, values increased dramatically with the mass exodus from urban areas and the shift to working virtually. Today, the values have still held and have not gone down.

While the rates we saw during Covid-19 are gone, there are benefits to buyers now in this present rate climate. With higher rates, there is less competition in the marketplace with fewer buyers and bidding wars. Asking prices are not inflated for sellers that wish to sell and buyers can secure properties for a lower price. Net even with higher interest rates, you can secure your property for a better purchase price than if rates were low and the competition was stiff with a market glutted with buyers and bidding wars. You secure your property for less money than you would if interest rates were lower, and you win equity down the line.

It is predicted, as soon as the economy stabilizes, interest rates will start to go down. For those who have secured a great purchase at a great price, they can refinance if rates come down at that time.

For those purchasing investment properties, not only does the property appreciate, the property produces rental income so it pays you while appreciating. Historically, the data shows what a great investment real estate is.

In a market known for its high-end properties and discerning clientele, what sets your approach to mortgage brokerage apart, and how do you tailor your services to meet the needs of affluent buyers?

What sets my approach apart is my level of experience with financing, and knowledge of the banking industry and my intimate knowledge of real estate on the East End of Long Island. My client’s time is precious. I streamline the preapproval process up front so we can all work efficiently together. I have devised a support template to help get the best possible loan based on my client’s financial needs. I understand the demands and stresses of home purchases — both the business side and the emotional side.

CrossCountry Mortgage is a direct lender of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, VA, FHA & first-time homebuyers, and also for jumbo and non-QM mortgages. I am backed by an incredible support, underwriting, and closing team. We streamline the process and make it as efficient as possible. I am there every step of the way to deal with any issues that may arise.

As a local resident of 25-plus years. I have personally built, bought, sold, and rented my own real estate, and I know firsthand what all of this feels like! I care very much about every one of my clients. I am there for them during the process and deliver the best possible mortgage loan for their needs.

Locally, I have worked extensively with thousands of real estate agents, attorneys, CPAs, architects, builders, and business people, and am personally part of the community. Working in this community has been a gift and an honor.

Janis Bronstein. Photo: Niels Media

Given the Hamptons’ reputation as a seasonal destination, how does the ebb and flow of the market impact mortgage lending dynamics, particularly during peak buying seasons?

Lenders understand that the Hamptons is a seasonal area. They are accustomed to seeing seasonal rental income on tax returns from properties that are located here.

The lender in a traditional mortgage scenario simply will want to see that you qualify. In other cases, if the buyer does not qualify, there are options such as the DSCR program to use rental income to assist.

As remote work becomes increasingly prevalent, do you foresee any shifts in buyer preferences or mortgage trends within the Hamptons real estate market, particularly concerning second home purchases?

With remote work prevalent, many clients have chosen to make their second home their primary residence. In some cases, the client may have sold their existing primary and have fully made the move to the Hamptons full-time.

Some pay down their mortgages. However, if a lower interest rate was secured, it makes sense to hang onto the cash and let it grow in the marketplace. Some clients choose to keep their primary residences and go back and forth, and others sell or rent their existing primary. I am seeing new buyers of second homes choose a fixed-rate product if they know that their purchase is not short-term. The trend is keeping the options open for full-time residency in the Hamptons.

With a focus on luxury properties, how do you collaborate with real estate agents and other industry professionals to ensure a seamless experience for clients from initial inquiry to closing?

I collaborate with real estate brokers to educate them and make them aware of what product offerings are available in the marketplace. There are new product offerings and updated guidelines that can allow a buyer to qualify and make an offer on their desired purchase.

The lending market is robust with products and programs. Realtors generally know the brushstrokes of what is out there when they are taking their customers to preview properties. This is critical to helping buyers see realistic options and possibilities when viewing a property and helping them acquire their home. They are busy selling real estate, however, financing plays a major role. They refer them to me for preapprovals so they can know their options and get comfortable with making an offer.

Realtors typically send the buyer to me for preapprovals even before they go shopping. Things move quickly with hot properties and this step helps buyers seal their deal quickly.

Knowledge is buying power. For example, we offer renovation loans where you can not only get a mortgage on the purchase price of the property but in addition, you can get funds for improvement. I had a client recently who was purchasing a home without a certificate of occupancy and needed improvements. With my help, they were able to close without a certificate of occupancy and get funds to fix it up and secure a great investment.

Another example is if a buyer has a property that needs a new kitchen or bathroom, funds at closing are available to make improvements.

Perhaps buyers are short on cash for a down payment or are waiting for a home to sell. When the realtor refers me to them, I can help them understand what is available. We work hand in hand to execute an offer and close on the loan.

In light of recent regulatory changes and market volatility, what advice do you have for prospective buyers looking to enter the Hamptons luxury real estate market, especially first-time buyers or those unfamiliar with the area?

Don’t sit on the sidelines due to volatility. Financing is robust. Regulatory changes have worked in the favor of first-time homebuyers. Programs now exist that are better than ever, with as little as 3 percent down and even rebates toward your closing costs. Get preapproved and understand how much financing is available to you.

Don’t be shy about pursuing your dreams. Knowledge is power. Often people stay away because they don’t feel it is the right time to review. They are concerned about credit issues or lack of savings or employment issues or feel shy about where they are right now. In getting preapproved, you see where you are and that helps you to make the plan to start accomplishing your goals. After you get preapproved, then you can start searching the marketplace and see where the properties are located that are in your budget.

How do you assist clients in understanding and navigating the complex financial considerations associated with luxury property ownership, such as property taxes, insurance, and investment potential?

I assist my clients in navigating the complex financial process by giving them an estimate of what funds will be needed to acquire the property in their price range. We discuss approximate taxes and insurance, and if there is a property already identified, we look at the potential rental income both seasonal and year-round. Knowledge is power here and this can help determine which property is best for the buyer at a particular time.

Looking ahead, what trends do you anticipate shaping the Hamptons luxury mortgage market in the coming months, and how do you prepare your clients to adapt to evolving market conditions and opportunities?

Listings are going into contract quickly. Many buyers that have been sitting on the sidelines have come back into the market. They see the opportunity and the realistic pricing.

The coming months are peak season in the Hamptons, and the trends typically this time of year are for purchases where the house is complete and turnkey, and a fast closing can occur. To prepare for this fast-paced market this time of year, it’s critical for buyers to have preapproval and all their paperwork lined up so the closing can happen quickly.

To contact or learn more about Bronstein, email , call 631-965-2060, or click here.

Ty Wenzel

Co-Publisher & Contributor

Ty Wenzel started her career as a fashion coordinator for Bloomingdale’s followed by fashion editor for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She was also a writer for countless publications, including having published a memoir and written features for The New York Times. She is an award-winning writer and designer who covers lifestyle, real estate, architecture and interiors for James Lane Post. Wenzel is also a co-founder of the meditation app for kids, DreamyKid, and the social media agency, TWM Hamptons Social Media.

An East End Experience

2024 © James Lane Post®. All Rights Reserved.

Covering North Fork and Hamptons Events, Hamptons Arts, Hamptons Entertainment, Hamptons Dining, and Hamptons Real Estate. Hamptons Lifestyle Magazine with things to do in the Hamptons and the North Fork.