A FREEHOLD MORTGAGE FIRM NEARS TEN YEARS OF GETTING CLIENTS INTO THEIR DREAM HOMES

BY ERIK SCHONING • PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO

As any home buyer can attest, a mortgage can sometimes be abstract. Fifteen years or 30? These timeframes can be difficult to appreciate, especially for novice buyers. Then you talk with Peter Berryman, proprietor of Patriot Mortgage, who has been in the mortgage industry for nearly 40 years. He’s seen the entire life cycle of mortgages, from closing day to the final payment, plus housing booms, busts, and a pandemic fueled migration from city centers to suburbs. This vast perspective, garnered through decades of real-world experience, makes a world of difference.

Berryman worked his way up in the industry, getting his start with Carteret Mortgage after a friend referred him for the job. As he admitted, he didn’t know the business, but he knew how to talk to people. “I went to the interview,” said Berryman. “I had a corduroy jacket with patches on it. An hour later the woman who interviewed me said, ‘He knows nothing about mortgages but he knows everything about me.’ And they hired me.”

That people-first ethos has been the foundation of Patriot Mortgage since its inception in 2014. Berryman, who at the time owned Kastle Mortgage, joined forces with Robert Walsh, former owner of Center State Mortgage. The two veterans had both been in business for themselves and worked for other people, and they were clearly aligned in one key area: they wanted to work for themselves. There was a flexibility and freedom in ownership that they couldn’t find at larger firms.

Today, business is booming at Patriot Mortgage. The company has three offices in New Jersey and is licensed in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Florida. (“We do a lot of business in Florida now,” added Berryman. “It’s like a suburb of Jersey.”) But propelling all this success is a time-tested approach to people. According to Berryman, people don’t stick around in the mortgage business without putting down roots.

“What we do better than anything, we get people to come back to us,” he said. “I had somebody call me up who I did a loan for 22 years ago, and they said: ‘I’m moving and buying something, can you help?’ My daughter is now 39, and we do all her friends’ mortgages now. I would say we’re pretty much a family-run business. We help everybody. And we like what we do.”

VJ SPREAD

Those deep roots make a difference when you’re operating in one of the most competitive real estate markets in the country. Between three offices, Patriot Mortgage covers a market that stretches from Lyndhurst and Wayne down through Monmouth and Ocean Counties, reaching as far south as Barnegat. Berryman himself is from Freehold and has lived in the area his entire life. His loan officers are older industry vets drawing upon a deep well of experience. The company and its employees are intertwined with the community, giving back to Meals on Wheels, Autism New Jersey, and Habitat for Humanity. For years, Berryman coached local youth soccer teams.

“We’re here to stay,” he said. “We’re not here for that one deal. So if we help one person, they’re definitely going to refer us to other people. Word of mouth is probably one of the best ways we get our business. We work for the homeowner. That’s the thing nobody realizes. We get referred by realtors, we get referred by people, but ultimately we work for homeowners to get them the best.”

There’s a flexibility to Patriot Mortgage’s way of doing business that outpaces larger, more corporate operations. As Berryman pointed out, banks are often interested exclusively in cookie-cutter loans, conventional mortgages that may not suit every buyer. Berryman’s team at Patriot is often able to deliver outside-the-box solutions. Berryman rattled off a list: FHA, VA, non-QM loans, reverse mortgages, home equity loans. If that sounds like alphabet soup to you, that’s okay. One of the benefits of long-term experience in the world of loans is that you become adept at explaining difficult concepts.

The New Jersey real estate market has transformed countless times since Berryman procured his first loan, a conventional mortgage on a three-family home. Prices surge and fall, inventory may thin then grow, but Berryman pointed out that, at the end of the day, everybody needs somewhere to live. It’s this long-term view that helped Patriot Mortgage adapt in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Berryman’s team noticed a sharp uptick in home buyers looking to pick up property in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. The times were unprecedented.

“When COVID hit, we saw a market where people were overbidding, and we had to be there for them,” said Berryman. “Throughout the pandemic we did not stop. We stayed in our offices. As an owner, I brought lunch in every day to help people so they didn’t go out, so we could stay working. We did what we called the drive-by closing. Our title people would throw the package on the front porch, have them sign it, and drive back and pick it up. That’s the truth.”

Berryman reflected that, through all of the pandemic’s perplexity, the importance of a good home life is now clearer than ever. He’s noticed that his clients are more interested in investing in their homes. That resonates with the four-decade mortgage veteran: he’s been investing in homes his entire career.

Patriot Mortgage
77 W Main Street, Freehold / 732.409.7779 / patriotmortgage4u.com