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January 2000

Saed took chance to put mortgages online

Jeff Shuttleworth

Sean Saed started Alliance Mortgage in Hayward in 1992 after his experiences in what he calls “credit hell” when an illness forced him out of work in 1986. He was unable to buy a car or rent a place to live, let alone get a mortgage.

Alliance caters to people with average incomes and credit problems. Saed, a former real estate broker, believes other mortgage companies ignore such people and instead target those with pristine credit records

Saed, is crazy about the Internet and decided to put Alliance online in 1996. The company now gets customers from around the nation and competes with larger and better-known firms such as E-Loan Inc. of Dublin, FiNet.com Inc. of San Ramon, Mortgage.com and Rock Financial Corp.

Business philosophy

The basics: “In our online business, it is to reach a great number of people with minimal effort and bring loan products to people to help them achieve the American dream of owning their own home. For people with incomes of $40,000 to $60,000, we can make that dream come true.”

Best way to keep competitive edge: “We always are abreast of what’s going on in our industry. We start new developments and they ripple through the industry. We started subprime loans, loans to people with difficulties.”

Guiding principle: “We’re heavily regulated, so our biggest philosophy is to be an honest and straight-forward business. Being upfront with competitors and being upstanding in the community is important, as are high levels of integrity and ethics. We control so much in somebody’s life, it’s almost scary.”

Self-portrait

Word that best describes you: “Humble. I’m an average guy trying to make it.”

Like best about job: “It’s so involving and fascinating that it’s not a job for me. It’s something I enjoy doing. I do get paid, but I do it for the love of it. I enjoy creating something out of nothing, like our Web site. It’s like writing a song.”

Like least about job: “I just can’t get any time off. This year has been horrendous. I haven’t taken much time off the last two years.”

Pet peeve: “The predatory nature of business dealings. It’s something I get angry with.”

Most important lesson learned: “Persistence always pays. Don’t work for the money, work for what you enjoy doing. The money follows � it’s a byproduct of it.”

Most respected competitor: “Countrywide Home Loans. They’ve built a solid business in the last 30 years.”

Three greatest passions: “Family, health and work.”

Judgment calls

Best business decision: “We went online in late 1996 even though there was skepticism from everyone around us. I realized early on that if we realized a large mass and we removed the advertising dollar cost, we would do well in revenues. The naysayers were proved wrong.”

Toughest business decision: “To leave a brick and mortar business. It was a tough thing to leave that cocoon of comfort.”

Biggest missed opportunity: “I have no regrets. I don’t look back at things.”

Acquired tastes

Status Symbol: “Becoming a public company one day.”

Favorite movie: ” `The Ten Commandments’ with Charlton Heston.”

Favorite book: “Being and Nothingness” by Jean Paul Sartre.

Favorite restaurant: “Shalimar in San Francisco.”

Set of wheels: “Pontiac Bonneville.”

Reach Shuttleworth at jshuttleworth@amcity.com or 925-598-1432.

 

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