Brian McGovern’s life changed at a hockey game. He was working in sales for AT&T seven years ago when one of his friends recommended him for a job in the mortgage industry. He had agreed to meet with Ryan Kelley, the founder of The Home Loan Expert LLC, which was then a small but growing mortgage company.
They headed to a St. Louis Blues hockey game in what turned out to be the job interview. McGovern arrived a bit skeptical.
“The industry didn’t have a great reputation, at least from my standpoint looking in,” Govern said. “We just had the collapse. Everyone still kind of had a bad taste in their mouth about that.”
Those concerns were soon put aside, however. He liked Kelley and bought into his vision for growing the business.
“Ryan Kelley is a high-energy guy — very passionate,” McGovern said. “I was really attracted to him and his belief in growth, and where he wanted to go.”
Kelley was equally impressed. He needed extra hands to help with the growing number of loans coming through the door.
“We got to know each other through the first period,” Kelley said. “I knew by the beginning of the second period that he was going to be a perfect fit for our team. So, then we started drinking beers and just enjoyed the game.”
The partnership has worked out well for both sides. The Home Loan Expert LLC has grown from five employees when McGovern started to more than 50, with offices in St. Louis, Chicago, Indianapolis and Nashville.
And McGovern has developed into one of the top mortgage originators in the country. He closed 813 loans for a total of $164.7 million in 2018. He placed in five categories of Scotsman Guide’s 2018 Top Originators rankings: No. 32 for Top Dollar Volume; No. 9 for Most Closed Loans; No. 5 for Top Refinance Volume; No. 2 for Top FHA Volume; and No. 23 for Top VA Volume.
McGovern has become an integral part of the company, Kelley said. McGovern credits Kelley for his success. Kelley has taken on more of an executive role and has turned over some of his book of business to McGovern. More importantly, McGovern learned about the mortgage business from Kelley, including how to develop relationships with clients and referral partners.
“I basically shadowed Ryan Kelley and, to be honest with you, I shadowed him because he’s successful,” McGovern said. “And I knew I’m just going to do what he does.”
McGovern said the company’s culture demands hard work with originators needing to be available 24-7 for clients and referral partners. The Home Loan Expert LLC takes full advantage of technology. McGovern said the company cares for its clients and the communities where it does business, citing several charitable ventures.
McGovern expects this year to be better than 2018. He said the purchase market has been strong and “the mortgage gods” have blessed the business with low rates. He expects next year to be even better with his company pushing to be the preferred lender of some heavyweight real estate companies.
“I love the mortgage industry,” McGovern said. “I really love working with borrowers and looking at the numbers to see how to save them money, or how to get them into a home. I am passionate about that.”