Frame at home with second career

After 27 years in the business, Carolyn Frame’s banking career hit a rough spot. Her boss had been promoted, and she and her new boss didn’t exactly mesh.

So she walked out, and joined a friend who had started a mortgage brokerage in Bellevue.

“I was working out of my car trunk the first year,” Frame said. “I wanted to find a niche, and I thought I would work with log homes. And if it didn’t work, I could always go back to banking.”

That was 11 years ago. Today, Frame heads a mortgage banking/brokerage business that employs almost 40 people, and last year placed $230 million in mortgage loans.

“Most of my banking career was in human resources, so I didn’t know if I could be a sales person,” Frame said. “But I got the chance to spend a year as a bank branch manager, and found that sales were very natural.”

As a mortgage broker, Frame acts as the point of contact with an applicant.

By knowing the requirements of different lenders, she is able to direct each application to the lender most suited to the individual applicant, which improves the chances of acceptance – she can recall only three refusals out of thousands of applications.

When the Idaho native got into the mortgage business, she was living on Bainbridge, so although the home office was in Bellevue, most of her customers were from Kitsap County. After a year or so, she persuaded her firm to open an island office, and she has been at her present location on the corner of Winslow Way and Highway 305 ever since.

In 1995, Frame bought the Bainbridge office, and began operating as Carolyn Frame & Associates. The business expanded again in 2000 when she acquired Northwest Mortgage Professionals.

Today, she and partner Walt Hannawacker have offices in Poulsbo, Silverdale and Gig Harbor as well as on Bainbridge Island under the name CFA Northwest Mortgage Professionals. They’ve even gone international, opening an office in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

While most of the firm customers are based in Kitsap County, a growing area is lending for second homes, as the Mexico office suggests.

Although Frame herself funded $84 million in loans last year – a number that placed her 28th in the country and second among women mortgage brokers, according to a national magazine – she attributes the firm’s success to her team, especially husband Charlie.

“He has been very involved in the community, and he takes care of the staff,” she said. “

Success has also let Frame become more involved. She has used her personnel background to teach people on welfare how to go through a job interview, and has actively sponsored numerous civic and charity endeavors. She was named Kitsap Business Leader of the Year for 2001 in a program sponsored by Olympia College and a local business publication.

Business remains strong, she said, in part because people are abandoning the stock market and channeling investment dollars into real estate.

“Interest rates are so low right now that this is the time to do it,” she said.

When Frame was looking for a post-banking career, mortgage lending appealed to her because of the human element.

“At heart, I’m kind of a social worker,” she said. “Helping people get into their own homes is a real source of satisfaction for me.”

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