Skip to main content
Cmlo hero
• Jul 20, 2023

It's a dream not realized by everyone – the dream of owning a home. TD Bank is aiming to change this with its experienced team of Community Mortgage Loan Officers (CMLOs). They are deployed across the TD footprint and are laser-focused on reaching those traditionally shut out of the housing market.

"CMLOs wear many hats, often working nights and weekends to meet with their clients outside of regular working hours," says Michael Innis-Thompson, Head of Community Lending and Development and the Fair lending Center of Excellence at TD Bank. "They educate potential home buyers about the process of buying a home and the responsibilities of home ownership. They also provide financial counseling to put clients in the strongest position possible to qualify for a mortgage – and they do it with compassion and determination. I couldn't ask for a better team of CMLOs who are resourceful advocates for our clients. "

Michael went on to explain that CMLOs often connect qualified homebuyers to community housing organizations and governmental agencies that provide financial assistance toward the purchase of a home. The bank's own TD Home Access Mortgage option also provides many of these homeowners with additional support with a recently increased lender credit of up to $10,000 towards their home purchase.

Still, getting potential homeowners to closing isn’t always easy. It takes dedication and a team of professionals to make it happen.

Education is key

Vanessa L. Owens, a Community Mortgage Sales Manager with TD Bank in Calverton, Maryland, leads TD Bank’s Mid-Atlantic team of Community Mortgage Loan Officers.

“Homeownership is the American Dream,” she says. Owning a home provides stability, creates generational wealth, and builds better neighborhoods. The pride of home ownership is also significant, she says. “It’s yours,” Vanessa explains, noting that renters often can’t paint their homes or decorate the way they would like.

According to Vanessa, it’s not a lack of hard work or responsibility that prevents many people from owning a home. Instead, too many people were never taught what they needed to do to qualify for a mortgage, such as opening a savings account and establishing a credit history. Vanessa says that some of the most common misconceptions she sees are that potential homebuyers need a 20% down payment and an excellent credit score to buy a home. While that may once have been true, there are more flexible options to help people.

Vanessa and her team at TD Bank now spend their days reaching out to community members, real estate agents, builders, and community housing organizations to correct these misconceptions, provide support, and get as many people as possible into their own homes. “It’s my life’s purpose,” Vanessa says. There is no other population she would rather serve.

Finding a passion for helping the community

Vanessa never set out to work in the mortgage industry. After leaving her dream job in information technology to move with her military spouse, Vanessa unexpectedly found herself copying loan documents in a mortgage office. Reviewing documents wasn’t part of her job, but Vanessa started reading every page that passed through her hands to learn more about the home-buying process. Vanessa never expected that the hours she spent standing at the copy machine would help her find her passion and launch a decades-long career.

Once Vanessa started learning more about mortgages, she quickly realized how many people with steady incomes wanted to own homes but couldn’t because they were not “mortgage ready” and didn’t know that it was possible to own a home without significant savings for a down payment. Vanessa decided that she wanted to help “anyone and everyone” who wanted to own a home and set out to make as many dreams of homeownership as possible come true by taking on more substantive work.

One client assured Vanessa that she was on the right path. When she was still early in her career, Vanessa helped a single mother of three qualify for a mortgage that drastically changed the family’s life. The mother had been living in a dilapidated house that was boarded up and had a large hole in the floor stuffed with clothing to keep the children from falling through. Although the woman had a steady income and always paid her bills on time, she never learned the skills she needed to purchase a home and didn’t think homeownership was within reach. Over time, Vanessa helped this hard-working woman organize her finances. The day the family got the keys to their own home transformed the lives of both women.

Since then, Vanessa has “sat in every chair” in the mortgage industry. She has been a closer, a processor, and an underwriter, but says that her most fulfilling job was helping to launch TD Bank’s CMLO program and helping people who thought they could never own a home reach their goal of homeownership. Although Vanessa doesn’t often work directly with clients anymore, she oversees a fabulous team that does.

Kevin with his clients

No two workdays are the same

One of the CMLOs who works with Vanessa is Kevin Claggett. Kevin, who is based in Washington, DC, calls a typical day “organized chaos” because he never knows “which direction” he will be pulled in next. He recently helped a 68-year-old woman with the process of buying her first home and is currently helping a man who was recently released from prison find the resources he needs to buy a home and get a fresh start.

Several times a month, Kevin partners with local housing counseling agencies for seminars that educate hopeful homeowners about the mortgage process and other aspects of financial education. Many days he acts as a financial coach, providing individual counseling based on each homebuyer’s needs and figuring out what they need to do to qualify for various grants and credits that can help get them into a home of their own more quickly. And in collaboration with local down payment assistance programs in some markets, Kevin has the ability to help qualified homebuyers get up to $202,000 in down payment assistance toward the purchase of a home, including an additional lender credit of $10,000 from TD Bank.

After a busy day, Kevin usually spends a few hours each night on the phone with his clients after they get off of work. He answers their questions and helps them prioritize what they need to do to get ready to move into their very own homes. On weekends, he is usually busy attending events with local partners to reach even more potential homebuyers.

Kevin says that he wants more people to “understand that homeownership is possible” and that working towards homeownership is “investing in yourself.” His job, he says, is to “make believers out of naysayers.”

Both Vanessa and Kevin agree there is one "issue" with the success of the lending program: the team is just too busy to accept all of the invitations to housewarming parties they receive from grateful clients.

We hope you found this helpful. This article is based on information available in July 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided as a convenience and for general information purposes only. Our content is not intended to provide legal, tax, investment, or financial advice or to indicate that a particular TD Bank or third-party product or service is available or right for you.

For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Want to learn more about Our Colleagues?
A Majority of Homeowners Nationwide Felt Stress from their Most Recent Homebuying Experience, TD Bank Survey Finds
First-time Homebuyers See Now as a Good Time to Buy Despite Market Uncertainty, TD Bank Survey Finds
The Role of Homeownership on Black Wealth

Join our newsletter

Sign up for the latest updates from TD Stories delivered to your inbox twice a week.

See you in a bit

You are now leaving our website and entering a third-party website over which we have no control.

Continue to site Return to TD Stories

Neither TD Bank US Holding Company, nor its subsidiaries or affiliates, is responsible for the content of the third-party sites hyperlinked from this page, nor do they guarantee or endorse the information, recommendations, products or services offered on third party sites.

Third-party sites may have different Privacy and Security policies than TD Bank US Holding Company. You should review the Privacy and Security policies of any third-party website before you provide personal or confidential information.