After 28 years of running the Residential Mortgage, LLC Kodiak office, Carrie Morton is packing up and setting course for Anchorage.
Morton said she was relocating in part to be closer to family, but stressed she would continue her role with Residential Mortgage in its Anchorage office.
“I’ve been in Kodiak for so long that people know me as the person who does mortgages,” Morton said. “I can still be that person and the company has agreed to fly me here when there is the need for it.”
Morton noted that while banks in Kodiak, including Wells Fargo, First National Bank and Alaska USA Federal Credit Union, offer mortgage services, her office is the only one that offers comparable services in person.
“Aside from them, I’m the last person you can come in and sit down to talk with,” Morton said.
She added that Kodiak Island Housing Authority does have a person to help with mortgages, but are limited in the loan options available to potential homeowners.
Morton arrived in Kodiak in 1989 when her husband at the time transferred in with the Coast Guard. In 1991, she took over management of the Residential Mortgage office. She had previously worked in the field while living in South Carolina.
Morton said her time in Kodiak has been a great experience.
“I love my work and both of my children were born here and went to school here,” Morton said. “I’ve done so many loans for so many families and now I’m doing loans for their children that I could probably tell you who lives in what house.”
She noted that there will be many things she will miss when she leaves.
“I think the hardest thing for Kodiak is for people who drive by not seeing my car in the parking lot and decide to come in to talk to me,” Morton said. “That’s probably the greatest part of living here.”
Morton said her day can be full due of talking with community members and prospective clients.
The past three decades have seen a lot of changes in the home loan industry, including an increased level of documentation needed for home loans following the 2008 housing crisis.
She noted while she respects new guidelines, she had more flexibility in originating and underwriting loans prior to new federal regulations. Those guidelines include the home loans going through additional processes and having others underwrite and close them, something she used to do herself.
However, Morton said she has never encountered any downsides for the loans that have been approved.
“In all of the loans that I’ve originated, underwritten and closed, I’ve never had a foreclosure because I never wanted to put someone into a property I knew they couldn’t afford because of their documentation,” Morton said.
She noted that technology has changed how business can be conducted, as most business can now be done online by submitting the necessary documents.
“It’s a lot different than from when I first started because I have people texting me at 11 p.m. asking questions. I have spent multiple hours on the phone, or emailing and texting,” Morton said. “I remember when I had my first pager. I would receive a page and then I had to find a phone to call someone back.”
She also noted that technology has afforded her the option to work while out of the country or the state, something that will allow her to continue helping people in Kodiak after she moves to the Anchorage office.
“As long as I have a secure network, I can work on their loan process and the majority of the work could feasibly be done at 11 p.m. at home,” Morton said.
Morton said she bases her career on helping to evaluate what her clients can realistically afford.
“When I have clients come in, I ask them what they are comfortable with,” Morton said. “They may qualify for a half-million dollar house, but if they don’t want a half-million dollar payment, I’ve always put my clients’ best interests first.”
The first thing she recommends: find out the loan amount before looking at homes.
“I think everyone should have the opportunity to own a home, but I don’t want them to be strapped by a large mortgage payment,” Morton said. “If you find a home that you like that costs $500,000 but are told you can’t afford it, you might never be happy with a $250,000 home.”
By finding out how much people can afford, including the cost of utilities, property taxes and the monthly mortgage payment, people can make more informed decisions. From there,Morton will work on the details and help people to get qualified.
“This is my career, and I truly care about the people I do loans for,” Morton said.
Morton said that while she will miss Kodiak, Anchorage will afford her opportunities, including road trips and being closer to her son. Her daughter, she said, lives in Japan, but Anchorage will provide her more flight options.
“I ride a Harley, but it’s been stored in Washington state for the past five years,” Morton said. She noted that it’s in the process of being taken to Bellingham for transport on the Kennicott to Whittier.
“I’ll be looking forward to riding it again,” Morton said. “I also look forward to spending more time with my son and more activities outside of what you can do in Kodiak.”
She also noted that she’ll never truly lose contact with Kodiak because of Anchorage’s position as a central hub in Alaska.
“It’s funny, because I don’t think I’ve ever gone to Anchorage and not see someone who is from Kodiak,” she said. “Alaska is still small enough that everywhere you go, you can still see someone you know.”
Morton will be holding a farewell event at her office, 2011 Mill Bay Road, Suite 1, tonight from 5-7 p.m, with food and beverages provided.
“It’s my way of saying thank you for 28 years of service,” Morton said.