Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Good with Money: James B. Nutter

In 1968, my mom tried to get a loan for $9,000 to buy a house.  She was a divorced mother of four young children.  The house was close to her mother and father's house so they could continue babysitting while Mom went to work as a dental assistant during the day.

She was turned down.

She made enough money to cover the monthly payments.  But she was too risky of a borrower, the banker told her, because she was a single woman.  He flat out told her that.  If she were a man in the exact same situation, making the same money and with the same dependents, Mom would have gotten the loan.

Too bad she lived in St. Joseph, MO instead of Kansas City or she might have heard of James B. Nutter.  I bet Nutter would have given her the loan.

A friend of mine shared this article today about the big fines HSBC has to pay for their unethical--and criminal--lending practices.  When Will and I first bought our house we got one of those subprime mortages through HSBC.  After two years when the interest rates were going up, we refinanced with James B. Nutter, a local, family-run mortgage lending company that we really like.  I feel icky when I think about the "drug cartels' bank" profiting off the interest payments Will and I sent them for our sweet little suburban home.  Icky like after the last time I shopped at Wal-mart for some baby food for Katie and then found out they pay  many of their own employees so little they have to rely on my tax dollars to pay for their food stamps to buy their babies' food.  Here's an eye-opening article about how the inimitable Alan Grayson is fighting that.

In my more cynical moods, I often agree with Jesus that the love of money is the root of all evil.  But not always.  Some people who are good with money are also good with it.  They do good things with it.  They have the talent to earn lots of money, but they also have the kindness it takes to give it away.  To spend their money on righteous causes rather than on excessive luxuries while ignoring others who go without basic necessities.

James B. Nutter is one of those people.  Here is a fascinating article about the man who started the mortgage company back in 1951 and how his work and his charity has improved our city.  That kind of rich man, a man who is rich in money and in love, is priceless.  I'm really proud that Will and I chose this family mortgage company to do our business.  If you're looking for a great mortgage lender, I highly recommend James B. Nutter.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the article:

A staunch Democrat, he’s unterrified of the L-word.  “You can’t get any more liberal than me. It’s impossible.”

In the 1950s and 1960s, James B. Nutter & Co. became the first mortgage company in Kansas City to make home loans in black neighborhoods and to single women on a large scale.

One of the country’s biggest mortgage lenders lost his childhood home to foreclosure when he was 12.

“We have lots of cases where we have made mortgage loans to three generations of a family.”

“I would never have been mayor if it weren’t for Jim. People say Bill Clinton is perhaps the greatest politician of all time, and he’s a good friend of mine, but I think Jim Nutter would give him a run for his money.” – Former Kansas City Mayor Emanuel Cleaver

In 1962, Nutter spotted a 2,500-square-foot, ranch-style house on Ward Parkway that he liked. In his patient fashion he negotiated with the owner, a lawyer, for three months before settling on a price.  They still live there. Never redid the bathrooms or the kitchen, either, although no expense is spared on exterior paint and roofing. The yellow plastic phone in the kitchen looks straight out of “That ’70s Show.” The last car Nutter bought was a 1996 Buick Park Avenue.
Russ [Nutter's 19 year-old grandson who is home on break from college] is painting houses in Nutterville for his grandfather, who proudly reports, “He shows up on time and works all day.” 

If anyone says liberals are lazy spendthrifts, please, share with them this post.