May 23, 2001 11:00 pm
Shawn Konecky ().
Shawn Konecky ().

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

He calls himself a mortgage lender, and he enjoys motivating people to aspire to achieve the American dream of owning a home.

I want to see as many people as can own homes, said Shawn Konecky, who is setting up new corporate offices for American Lending Corporation in the Sac Annex on Greenwood Street in La Grande.

The companys third-floor location is only temporary, he said. He plans to move downstairs and around the corner in the same building into the spot facing Washington Avenue now occupied by financial consultant David Williams. Williams has bought the Phoenix Building on Adams Avenue and plans to move there after some renovations.

I believe a high percentage of people can become homeowners, Konecky said. We tell them, You have the ability to buy. You can buy cheaper than you can rent.

If people have the desire and motivation, we can point them in the direction to owning a home.

In the mortgage business for 20 years, mainly in Southern California (Santa Ana), Konecky said he was moving his corporate offices to La Grande, will employ 5 to 10 people now and possibly 20 in the next six months to a year, he said.

Weve made a commitment to put our office here. This will be our retail hub. I think its a real positive for the town. We will be able to offer jobs at salaries superior to anyone in Eastern Oregon, he said.

Within three months, Konecky said, he would be approved to operate in 40 to 45 states.

Steve Wright, whose experience includes working at American General in Seattle, is office manager. Wrights wife, Janet Wright, is vice president in charge of patient services at Grande Ronde Hospital.

Were primarily a wholesale company, a sub-prime lender, Konecky said. Were the banker. Brokers bring their loans to us. Weve recently expanded into the retail arena and La Grande will be the central retail arena for us, Konecky said.

We are the lender. We make the decision, we draw the loan document, we close the loan. We are the direct lender in most cases.

The company will deal in both commercial and residential properties, he said.

Fully computerized and automated, the company has the capability of turning a loan application around within 24 hours, Konecky.

Sometimes we can give approval a lot faster. We can meet with the person at their home, but in this day and age, we do most of the information gathering over the phone.

Meeting the customers needs is important, just as it is in any business, he said.

We are dealing with someone elses money, a very personal issue. We try hard to offer the highest degree of service, Konecky said.

He said the company offers a full array of loans. We have 12 variations of 100 percent loans (buying a home with no down payment). There are not a lot of loans out there like that. Borrowers still have to meet qualifications.

Refinancing will be a huge part of our market, Konecky said, from first or second mortgages. Well tell you if we cant help you.

We also do full pre-approvals, but they wont be the traditional ones. Well give the Realtor a formal loan commitment, showing a list of terms the borrower must meet, Konecky said.

Clients will come from Realtors, from the yellow pages, from attorneys, from accountants, by word of mouth. Weve got to get the word out.

While his firm will always be competing with banks, you wont see a tremendous difference in rates. We try to be a little lower but not a huge amount from the consumers standpoint. We are more than competitive with banks. We havent lost a loan from anyone getting it cheaper elsewhere. I hope we can offer things others cant.

Konecky, whose wife, Lisa Hill, owns Expressions Salon and Spa, said there was more than enough population base in Eastern Oregon for his company to thrive. The immediate service area will be Union County, he said.

We are committed to making this one of the largest institutions in Eastern Oregon in closing loans, Konecky said.

Im president. Im committed to the success of my company. He admitted he works 16-17 hours a day.

If things work out here, well expand next to other Eastern Oregon cities, said Konecky, who stays in contact with his California operations.

I hope to build good relationships with the Realtors and show people they can enjoy home ownership.