It's the true story of loan originator Michael Locking and his radical company car.
While it isn't as flashy as the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, the Virginia Housing Development Authority's Loanmobile attracts plenty of gawkers when Locking takes it for a spin.
Several days each week, he
drives the RV from his
home in Abingdon to parking lots in rural communities all over Western Virginia - from Covington to the coalfields.There he
meets with low- and moderate-income Virginians who want to buy homes with loans from the VHDA.
The RV offers all the amenities of a real office: lap-top computer, fax machine and - all importantly - a bathroom.
Despite its immaculate interior, there sometimes is a coating of soot and grime on the outside of the Loanmobile.
"The places he
goes," a co-worker said."We can't keep it clean."
, with his
portable office, is one of them.
The General Assembly created VHDA in 1972 to help make housing more affordable for Virginians.The nonprofit agency receives no state funds for its lending programs.Instead, VHDA makes money by selling bonds to investors.
VHDA financing programs offer lower interest rates.Another benefit is lower closing costs.
knew there had to be a better way to serve these hard-to-reach clients.Then, one day at a staff meeting, someone had a vision of a mortgage office on wheels.It wasn't long before Locking
held the keys to an RV.
VHDA intended to try the idea for eight months, but it immediately worked so well the staff quickly decided to make the Loanmobile permanent.By 1999, VHDA had bought a second vehicle to serve the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and Southside regions of the state.
With about 80,000 miles on it, Locking's original Loanmobile is about to be retired.A new and improved model is on the way.Locking practically beams when describing the filing cabinets in his
Before the Loanmobile, Locking
closed around 25 VHDA loans a year.In 2001, he
Representatives from the Kentucky Housing Corporation
recently traveled to Virginia to check out the Loanmobile.
spends much of his
time talking to clients about consolidating debt and cleaning up their credit histories.
"Even if you don't get them in a house," he
said, "you can get their credit straightened out."
But Boyd looks like a strong candidate.If everything goes as planned, she
will move into her
house in a few months.
Before Boyd leaves the RV, Locking
a list of things she
needs to do before he
paperwork to Richmond.He
to call him with any questions."We don't want this loan not to go through any more than you do," he
said."If you ever need me, you know you can count on me."
Feels like home
Maybe it's the English accent.Maybe it's the way he
mispronounces Moneta in such a way that it rhymes with poinsettia.
Whatever the reason, clients who meet Locking
for the first time often cock their heads and say something like, "You're not from around here, are you?" He's
not, actually.But Abingdon, where he
lives, feels like home to Locking
because it reminds him of his
childhood home in Yorkshire, England. Locking began his career as an accountant in East Africa and Brazil.By the mid-1960s he was a partner in an accounting firm and the job had brought him to Connecticut.He retired briefly in 1984, then went to work as chief financial officer for a Manhattan bank.
A few years later, his
wife had a baby.Locking
didn't want his
daughter to grow up in the city.His
wife had family in Wise County and the couple loved the area, so Locking
retired for the second time in 1989 and moved with his
family to Abingdon.
In 1991, a job offer from VHDA lured him out of retirement once again.At first, Locking
held onto old habits, putting on a blazer and tie each day.But it didn't take long for him to turn into a sweater and khakis kind of guy.
When Locking first started driving the RV, his
daughter - who was 8 at the time - dubbed it Stinky because she
didn't like that it took her
daddy so far from home.A stuffed skunk rests on the dashboard in her
We just help people Locking
, 70, likes his
work."We just help people," he
said."Most of our people, they would never get their homes otherwise."