Celebrating Unwavering Commitment: A Q&A with Maria Barnes
As we celebrate Kiavi's 10th anniversary, let's reflect on our journey of dedication and innovation in real estate lending with stories and experiences from our remarkable stars at Kiavi! We're honored to share with you the insights and passion of our very own Customer Experience Manager, Maria Barnes, who is pivotal in shaping an exceptional journey for our clients and the company.
Based out of El Paso, Texas, Maria's role focuses primarily on supporting real estate investors who are new or deal with a limited number of transactions each year, ensuring their experience is seamless and rewarding. Maria has been with Kiavi for almost two years, enriching our journey with her dedication and expertise.
Q&A with Kiavi Customer Experience Manager Maria Barnes
Could you describe your journey with Kiavi, growth, and learning experiences since joining?
I am honored to be part of the incredible community and culture at Kiavi. It has provided me the opportunity to assist numerous individuals, fostering lasting relationships. Externally, I cherish every moment I connect with borrowers, helping them grow their businesses and mutually learning from our interactions. Internally, I collaborate cross-functionally with various departments within Kiavi, including loan analysis, underwriting, marketing, and sales. This not only broadens my understanding from different perspectives but also strengthens our teamwork.
Have customer needs evolved with the dynamic market trends?
Over the past year, I've seen a surge in people wanting to refinance due to the market shifts. I've encountered many who embarked on projects with the hope of quickly flipping houses, but the reality has been a bit different—it's taking more than the usual one year for beginner real estate investors. This has led many to explore refinancing as a strategy to adapt to the current market conditions.
I see a widespread enthusiasm to leverage the market changes. A common belief is that market shifts create fresh opportunities to prosper. Hence, there's a willingness amongst many to embrace risks for the potential rewards that may follow.
I think there are many opportunities out there, having seen numerous individuals eager to learn and optimize what the market presents. It's a season of embracing intelligent risks and experiencing substantial alterations in our perceptions and interactions with the market.
Any memorable experiences with customers you'd like to share?
Several, actually. One that stands out is when I recently assisted a borrower who was initially attempting to secure a rental loan. She was pretty unfamiliar with the process and faced additional hurdles, as immediate repairs were required, making it impossible to have an appraisal at that time.
Recognizing her situation, I recommended transitioning her to our bridge loan product. Although this alternative sparked excitement in her, it was mingled with nervousness due to her unfamiliarity with the product and uncertainty about the steps involved. But, she recently closed on her second bridge loan with us and called me, excited and almost in disbelief, saying, "I am an investor now! People actually believe in me!"
For me, moments like these, where I can facilitate transformative experiences for my clients, are not just the highlights of my job—they are the essence of my professional fulfillment. It's because of these moments that I genuinely love what I do.
Could you explain what you believe sets Kiavi apart from other lenders in the industry?
At Kiavi, the Customer Experience Manager plays a pivotal role as the guide and confidant for beginner borrowers, ensuring smooth transactions and interactions. Our innovative platform offers immediate access to crucial loan information and uses algorithms to assess property risks effectively. We prioritize clear communication and provide a transparent, adaptable service model, ensuring that our clients are informed and comfortable every step of the way.
How do you address concerns from potential customers who mention that they are considering other lenders?
I showcase Kiavi's competitive edge, transparency, and clear communication. Our fees are upfront, and our borrowers appreciate our integrity and the seamless experience we provide, making them feel at ease and confident in their choice to work with us.
Have you encountered any challenges in your role, and how did you overcome them?
The market's recent volatility means constant adaptation and communication are essential. Setting the right expectations, staying informed about market trends, and ensuring our borrowers are well-prepared and knowledgeable about potential changes are crucial. I can manage expectations and navigate clients through market adjustments by consistently monitoring real estate trends and maintaining clear and proactive communication.
How would you describe the culture within your team?
In my team, there's this collective spirit, a unity. We're constantly reaching out to lend a hand to one another—it's all about being one big team. If anyone has a question, the first available colleague jumps in to help, maybe through a quick message or a Google Hangout session, as we work remotely.
Some might think that being remote could make things difficult, but in our experience, it's actually quite the opposite. It's easier because we can instantly reach out and get assistance. Just a quick message like, 'Hey, can you lend a hand with this? Could you check out this thing?' and there's always someone ready to help. We collaborate and pull together to ensure we succeed as a team. I really do have a lot of love for my team.
What do you value most about your interaction with other Kiavi departments?
I genuinely feel that everyone at Kiavi is simply amazing! It's unheard of to find someone here and think, 'Oh wow, I can't stand this person.' That's just not the Kiavi way.
We are a tapestry of brilliant and passionate minds, each bringing something special to the table. It's incredibly refreshing to know that I can approach anyone and gain a bit of insight or knowledge from them.
Kiavi has a culture that facilitates this learning and sharing, whether during meetings or through the collaborative initiatives we engage in. We learn about each other's roles. We gain a deeper understanding of our diverse talents, and, above all, we network. I guess, at the end of the day, I just really love being around people!
Speaking of team culture, you are heavily involved in one of Kiavi's Employee Resource Groups (ERG). Can you talk a little about that?
I’m part of the K-Fuego ERG here. It's a Latinx ERG that's all about celebrating our rich Latin culture and providing a place of support and connection. Originally from Mexico, I strongly desire to uplift and represent my Latin community.
K-Fuego is more than just an ERG— it's a fast-growing community focused on sharing and reveling in our diverse cultures. It's a space provided by Kiavi where we can celebrate our unique identities and find common ground. We have a robust and vibrant community here, aiming to create a safe and inviting space where we can all be proud of our differences and similarities.
It's not just about sharing our experiences and traditions but also about providing opportunities for both personal and professional growth. Whether it's about learning more about our diverse foods or our varied traditions, K-Fuego is a fun, secure, and enriching space for everyone!
What excites you about the future of Kiavi, particularly as we stand as a leader in the industry? Where do you see our trajectory heading?
I wholeheartedly believe we are unrivaled as a lender, especially as a hard money lender who is dedicated to helping real estate investors scale. My belief is firm that if a company can navigate any market transition and emerge resilient, it only becomes stronger.
Kiavi sets a bar so high that it becomes a real challenge for other lenders to match our position. I only see our trajectory soaring upwards from here, honestly.
Maria's reflections epitomize the values and commitment fueling Kiavi's journey—her unwavering dedication, customer-centric approach, and active role in promoting cultural diversity reflect the essence of Kiavi.
As we continue to break new ground in real estate investment financing, Maria's insights reinforce our devotion to delivering unrivaled experiences to our clients and maintaining a collaborative, inclusive environment within our teams.
Here's to more years of enriching experiences, groundbreaking innovations, and setting higher standards in real estate lending! Here's to more years of Maria and many others making a remarkable impact in the lives of our clients and the trajectory of Kiavi!