by Jim Bea Sampaga
Mortgage Bankers Association of Hawaii (MBAH) recently named Filipino-American Pete Castillejos as its new president.
A mortgage industry veteran with 17 years of experience, Castillejos is currently the Branch Manager/Area Marketing Manager for CMG Financial, a private mortgage banking firm, in the state of Hawaii. He also advocates for the mortgage industry as he has served as an MBAH board member and director for the past four years.
As the new president of MBAH, he will continue to advocate for responsible lending practices to better serve home buyers and homeowners through educational, networking and community service opportunities.
Born in the Philippines to an Ilokano father and a Tagalog mother, then two-year-old Castillejos and his family moved to Chicago, where he eventually studied marketing at the Loyola University Chicago.
When asked about why he chose a career in the mortgage industry, Castillejos said “most of us just happen to fall into it!”
“Most of my jobs during and after college involved customer service or sales, and our industry is very people focused. It was a good fit for me. I value networking and relationship building, which helps put people at ease because trust is a big factor in our industry as we dive into personal finances,” he said.
Twenty years ago, Castillejos visited Hawaii for the first time. He fell in love with the Aloha spirit, culture and people, especially the Filipino community in Hawaii.
“I love hearing our languages and experiencing our culture and foods here on the islands,” Castillejos explained.
He moved to Hawaii from Chicago that same year and is now currently residing in Kailua.
“I got tired of shoveling snow!” he joked.
He held several mortgage broker and marketing positions in Honolulu, from Senior Loan Officer/Mortgage Broker at 808 Home Mortgage Inc., to Area Sales Manager at Ditech Financial LLC.
In 2016, he joined CMG Financial as its Branch Manager/Area Marketing Manager where he opened the company’s first offices in Hawaii. He recruited and managed the team in their branches and is responsible for growing the company brand throughout the islands resulting in quadrupled team sales numbers since its first year. He also actively represents the company at various industry organizations and events.
As an active and successful professional in the mortgage industry, he received multiple awards celebrating his achievements. He was a Pacific Business News ‘Forty under 40’ and ‘Hawaii’s Best Workplaces’ Honoree, and Honolulu Magazine’s ‘Best in Real Estate Mortgage Professionals’ Recipient for multiple years. He was also awarded by his company the CMG Financial Presidents Council.
With a successful career in Hawaii, Castillejos also shared his family’s success that he says, “lays a foundation and expectation of how to conduct yourself and how hard you need to work to have the lifestyle you desire.”
“I am the Grandson of Epifanio Castillejos, former Congressman in the Philippines, and Nephew of Edgar Castillejos, former Mayor of Caba, La Union.,” he shared. “We have doctors and nurses in my family.”
Castillejos admits he is not political nor influential, but he believes that actions speaks louder than words.
“I make sacrifices to provide for my family and do a lot of volunteer and charity work and hope that my actions in those efforts influence others to follow,” he said.
As the new MBAH president, he hopes to bring the members together especially during the COVID-19 lockdown environment and improve what they can do to add more success to the association.
“[I want to] find a way to connect everyone, whether it be a small socially distanced gatherings, or activities that are allowed such as golf. People interaction is so valuable and missed in our industry,” he explained.
The COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the world’s economy and the mortgage industry is no exception. With record-low interest rates, Castillejos says work has been very busy and hectic lately. In order to keep himself and his team motivated, he is helping his team “navigate and succeed in this environment as well as to help as many current and potential home owners as we can.”
When asked about his number one mortgage tip for home owners and buyers especially during the pandemic, he shared that keeping debts low and paying off credit are essential.
“The things we look at for a mortgage approval is your credit history and how much debt vs. income you have. You can make great money, but if you have a lot of debt and low credit scores, earning a lot won’t matter,” Castillejos shared.
“Keep your debts low by only spending on what is necessary, especially during this pandemic. And try to keep at least two lines of credit open and pay them off immediately every month to help increase your credit scores.”
The new year comes with new challenges and uncertainty and Castillejos hopes that there will be “less arguments, less infections and more businesses opening up” in 2021. In addition, he encourages everyone to volunteer, donate and support charities and small businesses during these troubling times.
“Let people know they are appreciated and just be kinder and have more grace, especially to those who have always been there for you in the past. Words like “Thank you” and “I love you” matter,” he said.
by Jim Bea Sampaga