Amit Sakhrani has always been a salesman. The mortgage industry found him by chance, as it does for so many originators, while he was working at a Christmas tree lot. He’d worked there for years, running the lot and selling trees to families each holiday season. Over time, he built a relationship with the owner.
The owner of the lot worked in mortgages, and at the end of the Christmas season in 2004, he asked if Sakhrani would join him as an assistant at Countrywide Financial. After a year there, he moved to a small broker shop, and after another year, he opened his own business. In 2006, Sakhrani became independent and he’s been growing his business ever since.
“If you communicate well, you’re always going to get business. You’re always going to get referrals.”
“I had no plans of going into the mortgage business. I was going to go work for my dad, take over his business,” Sakhrani said. “He said I had to go to school to take over the business, so I went to school and I worked as a mortgage originator. But it turned out I was really good at origination, so I never steered in the direction of my dad. I just stuck with it.”
Sakhrani carved out a niche in nonqualified (non-QM) mortgages. He now offers everything under the umbrella of non-QM: construction, fix-and-flip, debt-service-coverage ratio (DSCR) and bank-statement loans, among other products. Last year, he did $94 million in non-QM loans alone and more than $260 million in total originations.
His typical borrowers are self-employed, or people in high-earning careers — doctors, dentists, lawyers — who can’t get approved at a bank because they have too many write-offs or an otherwise complicated financial picture. He also does conventional loans and his extensive knowledge of loan programs means that every borrower has multiple options.
While Sakhrani runs an entire brokerage as its president, he works with a small team on his own originations — just himself, his right-hand man and one processor. He said he really enjoys being “in the dirt,” poring over each loan file and finding solutions on his own rather than delegating. His approach has made him a Scotsman Guide Top Originator for several years now, and his goal for the next several years is to grow his brokerage rather than his personal origination volume. Sakhrani has a comfortable work-life balance and invests most of his free time with his wife and three children. And he pushes his firm’s other originators to work hard and build a comfortable family life for themselves too.
“I’ve done my rounds; I’ve done my thing. I want to coach my originators, teach them and make sure they’re successful,” Sakhrani said. “I really want to focus on 10 to 15 people, build them and build their careers to a point where they can sustain this for a long time. … It’s going to take a lot of work and dedication to try to push them to get there.”
Sakhrani doesn’t really believe there are secrets to success in the mortgage industry, but if one thing has made him successful, he said it’s his communication style. He returns every call or email by the end of the day, and he believes the most important communication comes when there’s a glitch with a loan.
“Everyone can communicate really well when they’re saying, ‘Hey, your loan’s approved; we’re going to close in 14 days,’” Sakhrani said. “What really sets you apart is being able to say, ‘Hey, underwriting saw this and we’re having a challenge here. This is how we’re going to overcome it, but we need more time.’ If you communicate well, you’re always going to get business. You’re always going to get referrals.” ●
Tips of the Trade
The key to success in this business is to be able to take rejection. You’re going to call 100 Realtors, or 100 clients, and 99 of them are going to say no. But keep plugging away, because if you can get through that, you can be really successful. When you hit one out of 100, that’s a great batting average in the mortgage business. Work long hours while you’re young to set yourself up for the future — not just 9 to 5 but the hours that no one sees. It sounds cliché, but hard work and dedication really do get you to the end goal.