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THE MORTGAGE MELTDOWN

Twins lean on each other as their business feels the pinch

August 11, 2007|Annette Haddad, Andrea Chang and Daniel Yi : | Times Staff Writers

JAWHAR AND BILAL GREEN

Mortgage brokers

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Identical twins Bilal and Jawhar Green share an enthusiasm for exotic foods and travel. They also share an occupational hazard -- working in the mortgage lending industry.

A single father, Bilal used to look forward to taking his two boys, ages 4 and 10, on weekend excursions to Disneyland and Universal Studios, and buying them the latest video games. But these days the 31-year-old mortgage broker is closing just five to seven loans a month, half of what he did a few years ago.

"Now we just go to the beach or do things that don't cost any money," said Bilal, founder of Triumphant Mortgage in Long Beach. "Sometimes we're in the house all day, watching movies."

Jawhar Green, who works with Bilal, also feels pinched. Back when his finances were more stable, Jawhar enrolled his son, Omari, in a private school in Long Beach.

But with a weakening housing market and a newborn daughter at home, he made the decision to pull his son from Oakwood Academy and enroll him in public school. The boy will turn 7 soon and begin second grade this fall.

"I've had to make significant adjustments to my lifestyle and how I do things," Jawhar said. "It's been kind of rough."

He said he wanted to keep his son at Oakwood, which cost him about $550 a month in tuition and other fees, "but the money's not coming in like it used to be."

Before joining his brother's business as vice president last September, Jawhar worked as a loan officer at Lake Forest-based mortgage firm NationPoint. At Triumphant Mortgage, he helps his brother broker loans while studying for his mortgage license.

The last year has been doubly difficult, Jawhar said, because he has had to get used to finding his own clients at a time when many people aren't looking to buy homes. He hasn't been able to take a summer vacation and is struggling to find an affordable home for his family of five.

Bilal, who said about one-third of his business was in sub-prime loans, hasn't been able to refinance. He also has been holding off paying property taxes on his own home, hoping not to have to dip into his savings.

"I don't want to spend that money in case any type of emergency comes along," he said. "But something has to give."

But the brothers said having each other for support had made the slump easier to bear.

"We share the burden together," Bilal said. "We try to keep each other's spirits up."

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