Andrew Westle – New American Funding
In a hot housing market with inventory low and there often being multiple bidders for a desirable property, cold cash has the inside track. So, what’s one to do if caught between trying to sell one house and buy another but lacking the wherewithal to consummate the deal ASAP?
That’s where the Orange County, California-based and privately-owned direct mortgage lender steps in for the cash-strapped buyer. NAF Cash, LLC, an affiliated company of New American Funding, purchases the desired home with cash and leases it back to the eventual buyer, giving them time to sell their current residence. The company charges a small service fee, which Westle says is reasonable, particularly because so many homes are coveted.
“This was aimed at really trying to put the homebuyer first and helping more people achieve the dream of homeownership,” Westle told Vanguard in June. “It illustrates one of the creative ways in which we put a program in place that helps homebuyers clear a hurdle that would traditionally make it harder for them to get into the home they want.”
On the money
NAF Cash, Westle explains, was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was hitting its peak when he joined New American Funding as senior counsel in September 2020. While co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Rick Arvielo conceived the idea, he left it to the legal department to work out the details, which Westle says took significant time and consideration.
At the outset, the new entity had to obtain a real estate brokerage company license in Michigan, where it is headquartered, and the agreements between company and consumer needed to be built from scratch. Rules and regulations often differing from state to state, Westle and General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer Kenneth Block collaborated with outside counsel in multiple jurisdictions to ensure the company operates within the law in every state where it conducts business.
NAF Cash has since proved to be a healthy revenue producer, albeit one Westle says must be willing to constantly evolve, depending on market trends and changes in the law.
As mortgage rates go, they are a commodity mostly affected by federal monetary policy, showing little or no difference among competing lenders. What sets a lender apart, Westle emphasizes, are its unique services which complement the core business of mortgage origination and servicing.
“Though we’re not the only one to provide these services, we’re doing it the right way,” he says. “We haven’t rushed into anything. My role is to cross the T’s and dot the I’s and ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations.”
Other non-core affiliate businesses aid the company’s growth strategy, Westle adds, with NAF Cash being just one example. Next on the agenda will be New American Funding’s partnership with an insurance company to offer various insurance products to New American Funding’s borrowers. A prospective partnership was nearly finalized when Westle spoke with Vanguard.
“It’s just another way we’ll be able to provide additional services to homebuyers,” he said.
Other partnerships are in the works as well, including one that will provide a host of whole-home services to homeowners. And there’s another existing affiliate, NAF Homes, that connects buyers nationwide with real estate agents.
A full legal plate
While working on the company’s affiliate businesses is one of Westle’s favorite aspects of the job, he’s got plenty of other responsibilities at New American Funding. These include vendor contracts, capital markets, assisting human resources on personnel matters, litigation, corporate governance and weighing in on whatever else might be required to help sustain New American Funding as a leading progressive lender. Though he much prefers it to racking up an annual 2,000 or so billable hours in private practice, he says his role at New American Funding is at least as demanding.
“This has probably been my busiest and most diverse role yet,” Westle says. “There’s sheer volume as a large mortgage company with a very entrepreneurial owner.”
At least it hasn’t been Westle’s first experience in the mortgage business—he also spent time as senior counsel for litigation with Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing prior to joining New American Funding. Before then, he served as general counsel for multiple Phoenix-based companies after honing his skills in private practice for seven years.
Westle says he’s glad to be a part of Block’s legal team and to have his role as a true generalist. He’s not siloed, and his input is appreciated more with every initiative that he helps bring to life.
“I really feel that I get to participate on the business side as opposed to being just a one-trick legal pony,” he says. “I’m thinking as much strategically as a businessman as I am a lawyer.”
And he appreciates being able to serve the company from his home in Phoenix. Block even prefers for his hires to be dispersed, reckoning it gives them more insight into respective markets. And Arizona, from the Phoenix Valley to Flagstaff, is one hot market—literally and figuratively.
Westle enjoys having Arizona as his home, which it’s been since his middle and high school years and during his time as a political science major at the University of Arizona. He did venture to Minnesota to attend Hamline University School of Law but returned to the sunny Southwest in 2006, where he served as a paralegal at PetSmart for two years in Phoenix before obtaining his license to practice law. He hasn’t even thought about leaving since.
Golf is good in the desert, despite the summer temperatures consistently hitting triple digits. Still, as he says, it’s a dry heat and a wonderful place for his wife and him to raise their two children.
All the better if, through New American Funding’s initiatives, others can make their home here too.
“That’s what we’re all about,” he says. “Everything we do is geared towards improving the homebuyer’s experience.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Fall I 2023 Edition here.
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