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Residential Department: Getting Personal: October 2008


Getting Personal

First-person accounts from mortgage professionals

Two years ago this month, an emotional wrecking ball began to swing my way.

It all started with a divorce for which I was emotionally unprepared. Just a few months later, the mortgage company with which I worked faced a catastrophic margin call on its warehouse lines. As if the hardship of family separation wasn’t enough, I now had less than 30 days to relocate my three offices and 55 employees.

It was a crazy time, to say the least. In fact, it sometimes seemed as if the downward spiral had no end.

If there’s one thing that two decades in the mortgage industry have taught me, however, it’s the importance of converting adversity into prosperity. Or, to put it another way: Times of great change also present great opportunity.

For me, that opportunity began to reveal itself as I was forced to balance my personal and professional lives better. For starters, I set a “date night” with each of my three children. In so doing, I discovered new insights into their lives and learned to better cherish our time together.

During this period, I also began to search for online resources for single fathers. As I surfed the Web, however, I thought there was more information for single moms than for single dads. This realization, combined with the slowing mortgage industry, led me to devote some of my working hours to developing a social-networking Web site geared to men facing some of the same challenges as me. These challenges included knowing:

  • How to help children get through tough times at school;
  • What comprises a healthy lunch;
  • What changes to make to financial papers following a divorce or death of a spouse;
  • How to stop kids from stressing when you can’t stop yourself; and
  • When it’s OK to start dating again.

By the first quarter of this year, my divorce was behind me. And my mortgage business -- trimmed to 20 employees -- was operating through new financial channels.

Today, I’m happier than ever. I’ve discovered new balance in my family, work and social lives. I continue to keep my date night with my kids and participate in their athletic and social activities. I’m also finding new ways to succeed in today’s challenging mortgage market.

Although I know it was difficult for all parties involved, my divorce and the professional upheaval that followed ultimately served as further proof that opportunity hides in every challenge, even those that swing through life like a wrecking ball. In today’s economy, that lesson is one to live by.


R.J. Jaramillo operates a net branch with Guild Mortgage Co. He is a direct lender and retail mortgage loan officer on the West Coast. His mortgage Web site is Jaramillo launched this past Father’s Day to help single fathers learn and exchange information through social networking. E-mail:

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