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A Perfect Partnership

Realtor Jenn Hart and Loan Officer J. Raleigh Hood give new home shoppers cellar-to-attic service

Article by Mary Ellin Arch

Photography by Hunter Henkel, Hunter Henkel Photography

Originally published in Midlothian Lifestyle

Some jobs – and the people in them – just naturally work in partnership. Reporter and photographer. Actor and director. Farmer and grocer.

Jenn Hart and J. Raleigh Hood are one such partnership, teaming up to bring Midlothian and Greater Richmond comprehensive home buying and selling services in a single, simple package.

“This partnership was just natural from the beginning,” Hood said.

Hart and Hood met through a local networking organization, Two Twelve. Hart, a Realtor, and Hood, a mortgage loan officer, started to refer business to each another. As they got acquainted, they were struck by their common business philosophies and values.

“Education is primary for both of us,” Hart said.

“First-time homebuyers rarely know what to expect from the homebuying process,” Hood explained. “You’re expected to learn through osmosis.”

Hart and Hood focus on educating clients. This comes easily for Hart, a teacher for 14 years before joining Coach House Realty. Hood, who learned to anticipate people’s needs as a bartender, channels that experience as he works with clients to ensures mortgages are approved and home sales completed.

“The mortgage process is arduous for most people,” Hood said. “The goal is to make sure there are no issues by the time we reach the closing table.”

To ensure a smooth process, Hood routinely sends each client an information-packed email that many tell him they find extremely helpful as they weigh financing options.

Many clients start with Hood to get pre-qualified. Hart never takes a client house-hunting without the pre-qual letter. “Homes sell so fast in this market, it’s imperative to have your financing in order before finding a home and making an offer,” she said.

Both believe in being available on clients’ schedules. “Ninety percent of real estate shopping is done after 5 p.m.,” Hood said. “The bulk of real estate happens after people get off work and on weekends.”

They advise home shoppers to think local. “These days offers are often made on weekends, with multiple bidders on one house,” Hart said. “You need a lender letter to get the offer accepted. Banks can’t help you then. Sellers prefer offers that look solid – they don’t want to risk that the deal might fall through. A pre-qual letter from a local lender can be an advantage.”

Hood stressed that unlike online mortgage companies, he gets to know his clients personally. In particular, Hood attends closings, a practice he learned from his father, who has worked in lending for over 30 years and now serves as Hood’s branch manager at Mason-McDuffie.

“Not a lot of lenders come to closing,” said Hood, who grew up “immersed in the mortgage industry” working as his dad’s assistant in high school. “Things can come up at closing. Having a lender there keeps the process moving.”

Hart also attends closings. “It’s like the wedding day,” she said. “It’s what you’ve been working toward. You want to be there.”

When not working, the partners relax with family and pursue hobbies. Hart, who is married to local PGA golf pro Scott Graber, stays busy caring for three daughters and the family lab. Whenever possible, she indulges her passion for travel, most recently visiting Greece and Mexico.

Hood was raised in Chesterfield and performs (guitar and vocals) with the local ‘90s cover band Killer Tofu. Married to Lindsey, a nurse liaison at Bon Secours, and father to two boys, he regularly cooks dinner and proudly shares about the weight he lost on the ketogenic diet.

The two are each other’s biggest supporters. “I tell my clients, I just did a refi with this person I’m recommending to you,” said Hart. Added Hood, who used Hart for his own home shopping, “I pair my clients with someone they can trust and fit well with. Most of the time that’s Jenn.”

For both, building relationships is key. “I want my clients to say, ‘I’m glad I used Raleigh,’” Hood said. Hart agreed: “In this business, reputation is everything. I treat every client as I would my own family.”

Tips on buying and
selling your home

1.  Use a reputable local lender and submit all required documents to him/her before shopping for a home; it will strengthen your pre-approval letter, making you more competitive in multiple offer situations.

2.  Focus on what your mortgage payment will be monthly once you receive an approved price point from your lender.

3.  Only tour homes in your lender-approved price range. 

4.  Avoid internet lenders and online calculators to estimate mortgage costs.  Use a Realtor to price your home for sale; don’t rely on Zillow.

5.  As a seller, vet the mortgage letters that accompany offers.  The highest priced offer is not always the best; you want the strongest financing, too.