Need help navigating the maze of financing a real estate transaction?

Obtaining the money to pay for the purchase of a property defines in most cases whether a transaction is possible or not. This is why the role of the mortgage broker, and his intervention to obtain a loan, is so important.

With more than 20 years of experience in obtaining financing for real estate transactions, Maria Somarriba is recognized as a key figure in Key Biscayne when it comes to thinking about the financing of a transaction.

Version in Spanish

In a conversation with Islander News, Somarriba – founder and president of Magellan International – provides key details on the mortgage market, rising rates and other aspects of applying for a loan to buy property. But first, about his family background:

“My family is originally from León, Nicaragua, but we grew up in Managua,” Somarriba said. “I left Nicaragua when I was 13. I’ve spent most of my life here, but our roots are very strong, the friendships remain, and we have a very strong Nicaraguan community in Miami. I still meet kindergarten friends that we met in Nicaragua.

In the 1990s, she began working on the financial side of real estate development. “Then I went to the mortgage part of Fortune, with Edgardo De Fortuna. And from there, I became independent and opened Magellan, which was initially in Mashta. Later, I opened The Square office. Magellan International is a unique boutique here in Key Biscayne.

Somarriba’s daughter, Valeria, 18, has just left for her freshman year of college in North Carolina, which is “something that generates very strong emotions for all parents”. Meanwhile, her second daughter, Lolita, 11, is studying at St. Agnes.







Need help navigating the maze of financing a real estate transaction?  Maria Somarriba is here to help you

Maria Somarriba



IN. Many operations fail because the loan is not obtained. How do you make sure you’re going to get the money?

MRS. My strength is the relationships with the different parties. With real estate agents, with clients, with banks. Our strength is being able to do a full underwriting right from the start, giving consistency to the transaction from the start. There are always sensitive parties, such as a condominium association. Sometimes a sale fails because the documents requested by the bank are not obtained.

And you have to understand that every bank needs a comfort zone. In the first week, I already know if we have a consistent customer and a transaction on track or if we are going to have problems. There are some gray areas that may surprise you, so you need to have other options if something happens.

We don’t lose a deal. I will follow it and we will get it. Although sometimes I have to tell some customers that they have to wait. I sit down with them and explain to them. Sometimes it’s better to say no.


IN. How is the relationship with real estate agents?

MRS. This is a very important relationship in my work. We form a team to achieve the success of the transaction. It all starts with the real estate agent carrying out the transaction and needing to be sure that he will obtain the financing to carry out the operation.

In this effort are the buyer, the seller, the lawyers, the real estate agents and the engagement of the mortgage broker. All following a guide, which is the contract. As a mortgage broker, I’m going to fight for this deal, if I can’t get it with one bank, I’m going to another or another, I have to have several options to be able to move forward.

Here in Key Biscayne, we have an impressive quality of Realtors. Most of them have more than 10 years in the market and this has a very high value.


IN. Are you worried about current economic conditions? That the market is slowing too much because of a recession?

MRS. We already had a crisis in 2008, and we passed it. There have even been times when interest rates have reached 11%, but there you see the beauty of the capital market, competition starts and banks start offering new products. Moreover, Miami has many factors that help it.

It was created as an international city and here we still have an outlet because even in 2008 and 2009 the transactions did not stop. There is always a push. Sometimes it’s Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru or Central America. Foreign investors come.

And now there are the Americans who come to buy in South Florida. This new market that opened up from the north during the pandemic adds to the international market that we have always had.


IN. For those who are looking for a loan and are afraid of rising rates. Would you tell him to hurry up before they don’t come up anymore?

MRS. Interest has increased, but when we put all the information on file and do the profile, the client sees what their numbers are. It’s not my style to tell someone to hurry up. I will let you know so you can make your own decision.

I can give you an analysis so you can see your numbers with your family. I try to be effective in the information so that they can make a good decision.


IN. Can international customers qualify?

MRS. You may be asked for more money up front. between 30 and 40% more. But these are very active markets, we have been lending to foreigners for a long time and the banks have clear procedures for them.

Banks that work with foreigners ask for automatic payment. 40% of the loans we currently grant are intended for foreigners, mostly from South America.

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