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Ken McCoy is a 28-year veteran of the mortgage industry and manager of American Pacific Mortgage dba Petaluma Home Loans, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (707) 439-8297 or by email.

Ken McCoy

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ken McCoy: An Unexpected Investment

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PETALUMA — When Ken McCoy bought his first house, he knew he was making a smart financial investment, but he never thought he’d also end up with a new professional livelihood. “In my prior career, I sold furniture,” he explains. “It was during this time that I bought my first house. After the purchase was finalized, the loan officer I was working with told me that if I ever got tired of selling furniture, I should come work for him. I guess he saw something in me.” Six months later, feeling a growing sense of dissatisfaction with his work, Ken remembered the offer and made a call. “I contacted the loan officer and asked if his offer still stood. He said it did, so I got my real estate license and went to work for him. I’ve been doing home loans ever since.”

Today, as manager of Petaluma Home Loans, Ken says he enjoys the varied and challenging nature of his profession. “Every loan is a puzzle and no two loans are the same, so it’s a continual challenge to assemble things in a way that meets both the underwriting guidelines and the borrower’s needs. In some cases, I have to think outside the box in order to make things work, but those kinds of challenges keep the job interesting.”

A resident of Petaluma (where he lives with his wife, Cheryl), Ken expresses his appreciation for the city’s close-knit character. “There are more than 60,000 people living in Petaluma, but it’s still a small town where everybody knows everybody, so it’s a really neat dynamic.”

Outside of work, Ken engages in a variety of active pastimes, from RVing to sports. “I’m the wagon master of a local RV group that does monthly weekend trips to places like Reno, Fort Bragg and Monterey,” he explains. “I also play soccer in a local men’s league, as well as handball and golf.” Additionally, Ken enjoys spending time with his family (including his three sons, Chris, Nicholas and Brandon) and volunteering with his local Rotary Club. “I’ve been in the Rotary Club of Rohnert Park-Cotati for 28 years. I’m actually an advisor to the Rancho Cotate High School Interact Club, which is like a Junior Rotary Club.”

In regard to his professional career, Ken espouses the importance of integrity. “It all comes down to treating people right and doing the right thing, even if it doesn’t always benefit your personal interests,” he says. “If I make a commitment to a client and something doesn’t go right on my end, I pay for that out of my own pocket. At the end of the day, keeping my commitments is a far higher priority than making a profit.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Ken says he’d split his time between volunteering and travel. “I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit still, so I’d definitely continue to be active in the Rotary Club. I’d also travel more—in fact, I’d love to take my RV around the United States and see some areas of the country I haven’t yet visited.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: It’s a tie between Scotland and New Zealand.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: I played trumpet in the band.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: 630 Park Steakhouse in Rohnert Park.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: I collect pin flags from different golf courses I’ve played at. I must have 40 or 50 pin flags on my office wall.

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The Complex Truth about Interest Rates


PETALUMA — In the past, if you wanted to know the current interest rate for a home loan, you could simply ask a mortgage professional and get a direct answer. Today, however, interest rates aren’t as simple as they once were. For… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: A Good Time to Reassess Your Mortgage

Complete Video Transcription:

PETALUMA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’ve had a recent life change such as retirement or the birth of a child, it’s a good time to reassess your… Read more

Ricky Walters is a 15-year veteran of the mortgage industry and president of Landmark Lending, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 692-5984 or by email.

Ricky Walters

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ricky Walters: Changing the Game

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

LIVERMORE — As a recruiting manager for the hi-tech industry, Ricky Walters hadn’t the slightest plan of becoming a mortgage professional. However, when it eventually happened, he came in determined to change the game. “When the tech bubble burst in 2000, I started looking for a new field to get involved in,” he recounts. “The mortgage industry seemed like a good fit because I have an analytical mind but I also enjoy interacting with people. As I researched the field, I found that, on the whole, mortgage lenders didn’t have a very good reputation—a fact that was verified by people I knew who’d had negative experiences. I felt that if I were to become a mortgage professional, I could help alter this negative image by providing a better experience for my clients.”

Fifteen years later, as president of Landmark Lending, Ricky stays true to his original vision by providing positive results for Bay Area homebuyers. “I really enjoy helping people improve their financial situations,” he says. “I always make it a point to outperform my clients’ expectations and give them more options than they realized they had.”

Originally from Kansas City, Ricky resides today in Livermore, where he appreciates its natural beauty and cultural diversity. “This is a beautiful area, and I have the chance to meet all kinds of different people from a variety of backgrounds,” he says. “Plus, the houses here are amazing, which makes for a healthy, challenging market that, consequently, makes my job very exciting.”

Outside of work, Ricky stays busy with a variety of hobbies and pastimes. “I love sports, reading, wine tasting and going on walks with my dogs,” he details. “I’m also involved in a lot of networking and regularly attend Chamber of Commerce events in Livermore and Pleasanton.” Additionally, Ricky likes to spend time with his three grown children, Michael, Brianna and Timmy.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Ricky espouses the value of exceeding expectations. “It’s often said, ‘Under-promise and over-deliver,’ and that’s something I’ve taken to heart,” he explains. “When applying for a mortgage loan, people tend to have low expectations in terms of what they’ll qualify for, so when you’re able to get them a good loan, it presents a very rewarding opportunity to outperform expectations.”

When asked what his life might look like if he retired tomorrow, Ricky says he’d devote more time to serving his community. “I’m currently a member of the Rotary Club of Pleasanton North, which does a lot of charity work for the local community. There’s a lot of need here and a lot of good causes to support, so being more involved would be a fun and rewarding way to spend my extra free time.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s one book that has been particularly influential for you?
A: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.

Q: What’s your favorite local winery?
A: 3 Steves Winery in Livermore.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show?
A: “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Q: If you could live in the city or the country, which would you choose?
A: The country—there’s too much traffic and congestion in the city.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Almonds.

Read more

The Unknown Affordability of Homeownership


LIVERMORE — If you’re a renter in the Bay Area, there’s a good chance you’re paying thousands of dollars each month for housing. Like many renters, you may have considered the option of buying a home, only to conclude that you… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Can You Afford to Buy a Home?

Complete Video Transcription:

LIVERMORE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re a renter in the Bay Area, you might be surprised to learn how affordable buying a home can actually be.… Read more

Jane Brown is owner of Optimum Realty & Financial Services, a Diamond Certified company since 2003. She can be reached at (415) 997-8922 or by email.

Jane Brown

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Jane Brown: Both Sides of the Coin

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO – In real estate, the sales process is typically coordinated between two distinct parties—a realtor and a lender—often within a somewhat turbulent dynamic. When Jane Brown first entered the industry, she saw how stressful this could make the process for clients caught in the middle and knew there had to be a better way. Eventually, she hit upon the idea of bringing the two aspects of realty and finance together under one roof. “When I founded my business, we were a financial company that dealt with residential loans, but it wasn’t long before I added a real estate division,” she explains. “The fact that I was able to handle both sides of the coin for real estate clients was a pretty unique thing at the time.”

Today, as owner of Optimum Realty & Financial Services, Jane says her dual enterprise continues to benefit sellers and buyers alike. “In addition to the convenience of one-stop shopping, handling both aspects allows me to have full control of every transaction. If there’s ever a problem with a loan, I don’t have to hunt down the lender—I know exactly what’s going on and what needs to happen next.”

Jane began her career as a math teacher, but her ultimate goal was always to go into business for herself—an ambition inspired by her father’s example. After obtaining her MBA in Finance, she occupied consecutive positions as an international banking representative and a corporate manager before founding Optimum Realty & Financial Services in 1991. Thirteen years later, Jane says her favorite part of running her business continues to be meeting and working with clients. “You can’t be successful if you don’t develop relationships with people, and that’s definitely something I enjoy. The fact that there are so many different types of people here in San Francisco makes it even more enjoyable.”

Originally born in Staunton, Virginia, Jane lived in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Indiana before finally settling in San Francisco, where she’s lived for 38 years with her husband, the Reverend Amos Brown. In addition to its recreational variety, Jane says she appreciates the city’s cultural diversity. “I feel that cultural integration and acceptance are the only things that will bring about peace in the world, and San Francisco is one of the few places where you can truly get to know people of many different cultures.”

Outside of work, Jane’s favorite pastimes are traveling and conducting family genealogy research—both of which have actually coincided. “In my research, I’ve been able to trace my heritage back to Africa, and I actually had the opportunity to visit the land of my ancestors,” she explains. In addition, Jane says she has developed an increased interest in health and wellness, having experienced firsthand the benefits of a recent change in diet. “I became a vegan about two years ago, and I’ve since done a lot of research on natural health remedies. So many of our nation’s health issues have to do with the food we eat, so I find it very fascinating to learn about and experience the impact of dietary alternatives.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she could retire tomorrow, Jane says she’d spend more time researching her genealogy and visiting the land of her heritage. “I’d take my grandchildren to Africa so they could see where their ancestors came from. I’m just waiting for them to get a little bit older so they can truly appreciate the trip.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: Music—I used to study voice and sing.

Q: What’s your favorite fruit?
A: Fuji apples. They’re always sweet, and you can prepare them in so many different ways.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: The first trip I took to Africa. It was truly a gift to have the opportunity to visit and experience the land of my ancestors.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Old coins.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Either Christmas or Thanksgiving because I get to see my family, and we have so much fun when we get together.

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Preparing Your Home for Sale with Cosmetic Upgrades


SAN FRANCISCO — Before listing your home for sale, it’s always a good idea to make cosmetic upgrades that will enhance its appeal. After determining how much you’re willing to invest in this process, go through your home and decide where… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Renovations to Help Your Home Sell

Complete Video Transcription:

SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you're planning on selling your home, you'll want to consider some cosmetic changes to help it stand out to potential buyers.… Read more


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