|It was when he tried to buy his own house that former college basketball star Anthony Buford learned how difficult it can be for some people to achieve what is known as "The American Dream" of home ownership.
Buford had been a shooting guard for the University of Cincinnati team that made it to the 1992 NCAA Tournament Final Four. He was returning to the United States after playing three years of professional basketball in Croatia and Germany and wanted to buy a home.
But he hadn't been living in the country, had a nontraditional job, didn't have a lot of the usual paperwork needed to secure a mortgage -- including W2s -- and subsequently had difficulty getting a loan.
"I'll never forget that experience," said Buford, today the operator of his own mortgage brokerage, Brookstone Financial in the Cincinnati suburb of Sharonville. "It was hard. Banks just don't like to make loans to people who were in my situation."
So after a short stint working for a wire and cable manufacturer, Buford took a job as a mortgage loan officer with a Cincinnati thrift. After six years in the business, he went out on his own last year with Brookstone -- which specializes in brokering subprime loans.
"We do mortgages, second mortgages for refinancing, debt consolidation," Buford told MortgageDaily.com. "But I really like working with folks that don't have the best credit.
"Because of my experience...I always enjoy working with people to make the best of their situations and trying to help them achieve their goal of buying a house."
Buford, who studied economics at UC, employs one other mortgage loan officer but is looking to hire at least three more.
"I don't want to be super huge. I have a pretty simple business model," he said. "I don't have the time nor patience to baby-sit and manage a whole bunch of people."
Buford has learned how to ride the swings of the mortgage market. When he first got in the business interest rates were in around 8 percent.
"They've since come down a bit, and we've enjoyed a really long period when rates were pretty good," he said.
But he knows the low rates won't last forever, so he's trying to take advantage of the heavy refi business to build his reputation as a mortgage lender.
People do remember him from his UC playing days "but not as much as I would like."
"It's not something folks really focus on," he said. "I can't say it helped me a lot" in business.
But sports fans remember Buford as a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Flint, Mich., that averaged 15.3 points a game during UC's 1992 season, which was the last time the Bearcats appeared in the Final Four. UC won a school-record 30 games that year but lost to Michigan 72-69 in the semifinal game.
Buford is also a game analyst for the Fox Network affiliate in that broadcasts UC's games on Cincinnati television.
Buford played for Bob Huggins, a stern and demanding coach known for pushing his players hard.
From Huggins, who still coaches at the school, Buford said he learned discipline "and putting the proper effort...into being a professional and applying that to a business."