For many of us, the holiday season is a time to celebrate relationships that enrich and add meaning to our lives. Our homes often become the gathering point for these celebrations, the space where memories are made and the bonds that hold us together are strengthened.
Natasha Cartagena Spencer, Vice President and Branch Manager of Florida’s Shelter Mortgage Operations, appreciates that the work she has done as a mortgage lender has been a catalyst to move people into homes where such memories are made.
Celebrating 20 years in business on the Space Coast, Natasha has built Shelter Mortgage into a leading and trusted lender by building personal relationships with the individuals and families making one of the most important decisions of their lives.
Developing and Honoring Relationships
Whether it’s a starter house for an aspiring young couple, or a retirement estate realized after a lifetime of work, Natasha and her team’s personal connection make an otherwise stressful experience memorably pleasant.
“We aren’t transactional, we are relational,” Natasha explained, citing the importance of stability. “I have one client that I have done seven mortgages for in 20 years.”
“It [is] the relational connection that happens when you become involved with the financial aspect of the deal that appealed to me,” she said. “The sales side takes a few weeks, but the relationship we develop when securing a mortgage for a client is all about trust and transparency. It is intimate.”
Natasha realized this shortly after graduating from the University of Miami when she went to work for a major real estate broker in South Florida. She learned that she was more attracted to the lending side of real estate than the sales side and soon after was hired by Shelter Mortgage Company, a leading retail residential mortgage originator.
A joint venture with Holiday Builders brought Natasha back to the area in 1999 to cover a massive swath of territory including Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Alabama. The venture expanded to other builders but moved towards a singular, retail model in 2010. Now Natasha divides her time between the three offices in Pensacola, Orlando and at her headquarters in Melbourne/Suntree.
Connection through Volunteering
For those who know or have met her, it may be surprising to learn that Natasha considers herself an introvert in an extrovert’s role. “My husband Brian, (who is one of Shelter’s best selling national sales agents) is the extrovert. I had to learn how to be outgoing. It is natural for him,” she said.
Nevertheless, she is known for her work as a passionate and engaged volunteer leader in the community, including for the Brevard Zoo, New Life Mission (previously Brevard Rescue Mission), Florida Home Builders Association, Junior Achievement and Eastern Florida State College, among others.
When she speaks, her enthusiasm for the community is front and center. “I realized that some people like to play golf or tennis, perhaps they like to travel. But me, I love to volunteer. That is my hobby,” she said.
Her commitment to these organizations is dizzying, dividing her time among various roles, including as a board member, or chairing annual fundraisers. Next year, Natasha will be in line to serve a 2-year tenure as Chair for Junior Achievement of the Space Coast.
It Starts with Those Who Are Close
Spencer’s relational focus begins with her own team and a time-honored adage: If you take care of your people, they will take care of your clients.
“I want all my people to be their own CEO, ‘Chief Energy Officer,’” she said. “I like to empower them to succeed, to build a team and to be a leader.”
She lists Kent Winkelseth, Shelter’s VP/Production Manager and Orlando office manager, as a great example of a remarkable team builder. “When he needs me, I’m there, but he trains, guides and motivates everyone involved with him.”
Today, she oversees 21 team members in offices and remote locations, with that number expected to increase.
In spite of the pandemic or perhaps, in part because of it, the housing market in Florida has boomed. According to a recent story by the New York Times, 950 people are moving here daily from major metropolitan areas in New York, Boston, California and Chicago, among others. Also, many Millennials and Gen Xers who gravitated towards densely populated urban areas and high-rise living are starting to rethink that lifestyle. Suddenly, a house in the ‘burbs with a yard and spaces for outdoor activities is much more appealing than being confined to a 650-sq.ft. apartment in a partially-opened downtown area.
Though Shelter does offer refinancing, especially when rates dip as low as they have in the past year, their business is based on a purchase-driven model, or helping clients buy new homes.
According to Natasha, that keeps the focus on relationships rather than transactions.
“I will tell you though, most of the time when one of our purchase clients wants to refinance, we are the first place they call,” she said.
“Also, since our primary mortgage lender (NewRez LLC) went public, we now have the resources to keep most of our loans in house, which streamlines the whole mortgage process.”
Helping homeowners move into the home of their dreams by acting as a trusted advisor and guide has earned Shelter Mortgage the honor of being one of the most respected and client referred brands in the field.
And, making this community the best place imaginable for everyone is the passion that drives Natasha.
Shelter Mortgage is located at 7341 Office Park Plaza, Suite 106, Melbourne. For more information, call (407) 234-8504 or visit loanswithnatasha.com