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Residential Department: Featured Top Originator: Mark Cohen: April 2015


Featured Top Originator: Mark Cohen

Mark Cohen, No. 1 Top Dollar Volume (2014), Cohen Financial Group

For the third year in a row, Mark Cohen has not only topped the Scotsman Guide Top Originators rankings, he has dominated the competition. With $664.9 million in total originations in 2014, Cohen’s numbers are nearly double the next highest originator on our 2014 Top Dollar Volume list. His $423.25 million purchase volume and $221.65 million in refinance volume placed Cohen at the No. 1 position in those two rankings, as well.

So, how does Cohen do it? Part of his success comes from living and working in Beverly Hills, California. “You can see by our numbers that the average loan is about a million dollars,” says Cohen. “So it’s where we’re located and the type of clientele I have.”

In 2014, Cohen closed 617 loans, making his average loan almost $1.08 million. This average was nearly 20 percent higher than the $900,000 average loan size Cohen had in 2013 when he closed 675 loans totaling $607.5 million, according to revised data, which shows a definite strengthening of the Los Angeles market over the past two years.

“L.A. is a big area, so you’re going to see some areas are better than others,” says Cohen, “but the prices were up a bit.”

Price and location alone don’t tell the entire story of Cohen’s success, however. The experience and connections he has amassed over nearly 30 years in the industry play a major role, as well. Cohen has built strong ties with banks and real estate agencies over the years. “I’m a direct affiliate lender for a lot of real estate companies,” he says. “I’m their preferred lender of choice.”

On banks, he says, “If you do $50 million a month in business with them, they’re going to take care of you.” Cohen says he has an exclusive affiliation with a portfolio lender with access to a wide variety of programs, which is a “big advantage.”

“They understand common-sense underwriting,” says Cohen about his portfolio lending partner. “So, it’s not like large national money center banks [that] can’t move quickly. Yes, the rates [at big banks] are going to be a little better sometimes, but they can’t compete with us from an efficiency standpoint.”

That efficiency is important when dealing with a hot market like Beverly Hills that, he says, is still “very strong,” even as the housing industry in the rest of the country saw a sluggish start to the year. Cohen attributes the strength of his market to “a lot of foreign money coming into the west side of Los Angeles,” and “strong growth in the entertainment industry,” adding “a combination of low interest rates and lack of supply has made 2015 very brisk.”

With a hot market and the experience and partners to service jumbo loans efficiently, it appears that Cohen is well-situated to dominate the L.A. mortgage market, as well as the Scotsman Guide Top Originators rankings, for quite some time.


Will McDermott is managing editor for Ask a Lender. Reach him at or (800) 297-6061.

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