Scotsman Guide > Residential > September 2015 > Department

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Residential Department: Featured Top Originator: Carlos Larrazabal, George Mason Mortgage LLC: September 2015

 

Featured Top Originator: Carlos Larrazabal, George Mason Mortgage LLC

Carlos Larrazabal, No. 1 Top FHA Volume (2014)

Carlos Larrazabal doesn’t follow the usual playbook for attracting loan business. He says he doesn’t do much marketing, hasn’t aggressively sought out referrals from new Realtors, and doesn’t tell borrowers what they necessarily want to hear just to prevent them from going to the next mortgage company down the street.

“I have said ‘no’ a lot more times than I have said ‘yes,’” says Larrazabal, who serves the Washington, D.C., area.

Over the past 15 years in the home-loan business, Larrazabal says he’s used hard-headed analysis of the guidelines and plain talk with borrowers to close loans. Tough love, he says, is often needed with younger first-time homebuyers and borrowers making use of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, his specialty.

“I have no trouble saying the way things are,” Larrazabal says. “I don’t sugarcoat it.”

Larrazabal says he spells out all the requirements and hurdles at the beginning. Some borrowers may not like to hear that talk. The approach works, however.

In a down year for FHA loan counts and volumes generally, Larrazabal increased his FHA volumes by more than 2 percent in 2014, to nearly $56 million. This ranked him first in Top FHA Volume in Scotsman Guide’s annual list of the nation’s top originators for the second consecutive year. Even more impressive,

Larrazabal closed mostly purchase loans in a sluggish year for homebuying.

Many other high-performing originators of FHA loans didn’t do as well in 2014. FHA loan counts and volumes plummeted 23 percent during the normally busy July-through-September period, compared to 2013, according to the agency’s quarterly report to Congress. FHA numbers were anemic for most of 2014.

To bring business back to FHA, the Obama administration reduced the annual insurance premium from 1.35 percent to 0.85 percent this past January.

Larrazabal says the program has been picking up momentum in the D.C. area. The lending environment, however, remains tough, he adds. FHA underwriting is noticeably more rigorous than it once was.

 “There is no wiggle room,” Larrazabal says. “That is making it a challenge for the people coming back into the market with previous credit issues, or (for) first-time homebuyers that may not have the best scores in the world. That has been my worst pain.”

Larrazabal increased the FHA share of his business by 6 percentage points to 74 percent this past year. He said he doesn’t confine himself to one loan program or borrower type, however, and is always looking for the next hot market.

“You never know when a slow time is going to come,” Larrazabal says. “It seems like one sector might slow down a little bit, (but) the other one is fine. That has helped me a lot.”

For the sixth consecutive year, we compiled the industry’s most comprehensive list of the nation’s top mortgage originators. The rankings include not only the originators who closed the most dollar volume and the most loans, but also the leaders in niche areas, like Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans as well as home equity lines of credit. View Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators 2014 at ScotsmanGuide.com/Top2014.


 

Victor Whitman is editor of Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition. Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or victorw@scotsmanguide.com.

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