Motivation comes in one color for Eric Kandell, the president of Low VA Rates mortgage company, and that color is RED.
Twenty years ago when Kandell was fresh out of college, but not yet focused on his career, the Brigham Young University grad was hanging out with a friend who had dropped out of college. “He was the coolest guy in the world and drove this bright RED sports car. He was making a lot of money in the mortgage business and finding all this financial success without finishing school,” said Kandell.
“At the time, I was playing around too much and was more involved in having fun and wakeboarding than making a living. Then, my parents kind of cut me off the ‘gravy train’ and my dad said ‘good luck figuring things out’,” he said.
Kandell approached his friend about getting in the mortgage loan business and they began working together out of a basement office. It wasn’t long before the two decided to get more serious about their work and make it a legitimate full-time business. They got office space and started a branch working under the umbrella of a bigger mortgage company in Salt Lake City-- focusing on Veterans Administration mortgage loans. Kandell admits, at first it was all about how much money he could make.
Then things changed.
“We met with veterans in their homes because that is how you did it back then before you could process loans online. We drove all over Utah, Las Vegas, and Phoenix and would meet with these people in their homes. We took their applications face to face. I soon came to realize that veterans were some of the hardest working patriotic people I had even met and changed the way I started looking at my business,” said Kandell.
In 2013, Kandell branched off on his own and started Low VA Rates. “I had had the vision to do my own thing and actually registered the domain name for Low VA Rates back in 2004,” said Kandell who is both the president and founder of the company. ‘We had seven employees when we started and we processed about 3,000 loans our first year.”
According to Kandell, Low VA Rates has the lowest rates in the nation and even offers a $250 cash payout if “we can't get you the lowest rate.”
“Veterans sometimes have unique situations they deal with daily including injuries and issues because of their time in the service. We don’t just look at an applicant's FICO score, we look at their entire picture. We have a great amount of latitude to make decisions about who gets a VA loan,” he said. “For example, when somebody has health complications due to being an amputee and they have struggled to get out from under a derogatory credit history we take a look at their unique situation. If they have had a stable job for the last 12 months, we see if we can help them get a loan.”
A lot of vets do not know there are options or if they can qualify for VA mortgage loans. “One of our early Youtube videos on “How to get a VA loan with bad credit” is really organic--and even a little choppy-but it is still one of our most-watched videos. “We would love to answer any questions a veteran may have and see if we can help them get a mortgage loan.”
Early on Low VA Rates decided they needed to give back to military-focused and patriotic causes and charities. Kandell set up the Low VA Rates Foundation. Each month the company sets aside a certain amount of money to donate to the foundation and Kandell challenged each of his 240 employees to take a portion of their paycheck and contribute to the fund. The foundation is a donor-advised fund and all of that money is earmarked for 501c3 charities which have been evaluated to make sure the majority of the money goes towards actual veterans. Most of the money distributed go to military charities like Warrior Rising (See related story) and other charities. In the past several years Low VA Rates has donated over $500,000 into their fund and tens of thousands of dollars have gone to the likes of The American Legion, The United States Military Educators, Tools of Freedom, Inc, Follow the Flag, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“I am lucky to work with veterans every day. I am lucky to hear their stories. We are constantly inspired by the service they give simply because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
“The culture of our company is one of service and giving. Every Friday we wear a RED shirt or some RED swag to Remember Everyone Deployed. We make it a big deal because it is a big deal. I guess you can say I have matured over the years, where that RED sports car was at one time my biggest motivation, I now see RED in a whole different light and with a bigger purpose,” he said.
Low VA Rates is based out of Lindon, Utah but processes VA loans in every state but two. In recent years, they have processed about 10,000 loans annually. “It feels great to serve those who have served us. We are still working (remotely) through the coronavirus shutdown and the ups and downs of the mortgage rate changes. We want to change the world, person by person, and veteran by veteran,” he concluded.
For more information see www.lowvarates.com.