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Residential Department: Featured Top Originator: Stephanie Machado Barto, GMFS LLC: August 2018


Featured Top Originator: Stephanie Machado Barto, GMFS LLC

Stephanie Machado Barto is clearly doing something right. For the second year in a row, Machado topped the list of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lenders in Scotsman Guide’s Top Originator rankings. 

Machado ranked No. 1 on the USDA Volume list in this year’s rankings with $20.3 million in loan originations, compared with $22.6 million the prior year.

She also gained ground in the Most Loans Closed and Top Dollar Volume categories, earning the No. 36 and 95 spots in this year’s Scotsman Guide rankings, respectively.

Machado, who works for GMFS LLC in Covington, Louisiana, about 40 miles north of New Orleans, says one key to her success is having her borrowers fill out a full loan application so she has as much information as possible to work with.

“The more I know about the customer’s situation, the more I will know if I can get them into [a particular] product or not,” Machado says.

Educating borrowers is an important part of her job, particularly when it comes to making people aware of the benefits of the USDA Rural Development mortgage program, she says. Most people don’t realize they can get a lower mortgage payment with a USDA loan than with a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, even if they put less money down, she noted.

People tend to think USDA loans are limited to rural properties, like farms, but that’s not true, Machado says. Many suburban areas just outside urban centers are eligible for USDA financing. The trick is making people aware that it’s an option for them, she says.

“My goal is to make sure the customer is well informed about the products (available to them) … People just don’t know that (the USDA loan program) is there to utilize,” she explains.

That proclivity to educate and build relationships with clients is largely why Machado says she isn’t terribly worried about rising interest rates and home prices.

“We don’t sell rates,” she says. “As those rates come into play, that’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to sell a product and a service. We sell benefits.”

More than anything, however, Machado says a mortgage originator’s work ethic determines their level of success.

“Right now, as the market is tending to shift a little bit, they just need to hustle,” she says. “It’s always a hustle … Even when you’re busy, you need to be looking for new opportunities, because you always have to have that same mentality from month to month to month.”

Hustling should not, however, come at the expense of a manageable work/life balance, she adds. Having recently given birth to twins, and now with a total of three children all under the age of 5, Machado admits pursuing that goal of balance can be a challenge. How does she do it?

“When I find that answer, I will let you know,” she says with a laugh. But, she adds, “I have help. This is a team effort, not just a one-man show here.”


Steven Wyble is the former online content editor of Scotsman Guide Media. For questions about this article, call (800) 297-6061 or

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