I’m excited about this week’s episode since we’ll be covering an area that’s key to the real estate lending industry. Agents often don’t understand what portfolio lending means or how that works. That’s why we have, Chriss Russel, the VP of Commercial/SBA Lending for iTHINK Financial, a company that specializes in portfolio lending. His experience in the real estate industry spans more than 30 years.  From a real estate office and property management company on the Jersey Shore to lending to pre-athletes.  Today Chris will bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and know-how to our industry. 

Let’s dive in!

[00:01 - 08:40] Opening Segment

  • Chris shares a little bit of his background and story
    • Growing up in South Dakota
    • Living in New Jersey and moving to Florida
    • Getting into the real estate industry
    • Working with financial institutions: Credit Union
    • iTHINK Financial

[08:41 - 27:42]  Chris Russell with iTHINK Financial…Portfolio Lending 


  • Chris introduces iTHINK


    • IBM days: Small credit unions started popping up
    • Changing the name from IBM SECU to iTHINK
    • 5 clients in the country: Our business comes from quality brokers that we are fortunate to deal with 
    • Developing guidelines and parameters for transactions that make sense
  • iTHINK’s main goals 
    • Looking at the credit report and not the credit score
    • Focusing on the quality of the credit: How has the mortgage been paid? How are people doing with paying other bills?
    • Taking self-employed returns and spreading them
  • Chris explains the importance of assets
    • Evaluating the loan makes sense
    • Assets are a compensating factor
    • Equity always matters

[27:43 - 47:40] iTHINK : Making Common Sense Decisions

  • The difference between iTHINK and lending in 2007-2008
    • Income and assets are critical in making a decision on a particular transaction
    • Developing a picture of a particular borrower
  • How iThink processes function
    • Not hampering the approval process and closing process
    • Making the process easier
    • Getting documentation and minimum application of rules
    • Offering 5-year fixed-period or 10-year fixed-period ARMS
  • How iTHINK evaluates risk
    • Personal basis approach
    • Think whether or not a loan makes sense:  Am I wisely lending my members money? Would I lend this person money?
    • Having the strongest and smartest underwriting in the world

[47:41 - 50:43] Closing Segment

  • Who you know or what you know.


  • It’s not who you know, it’s what you know


  • Connect with Chris
    • See links below
  • Final words

Tweetable Quotes:

“We don’t believe in using computers to approve somebody for their dream home. Computers are a very small part of the way we underwrite, ours is done by humans. And what we’ve really done is making common-sense decisions on loans.” - Chris Russell

“We don’t call people customers, the people who belong to our credit union are members.” - Chriss Russell

“It can be that unique borrower, but it can also be that unique property.” - Chriss Russell

Connect with Chris through LinkedIn. You can turn to iTHINK Financial for the right solutions to all of your financial needs!

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