Marissa Gurtler joined the mortgage industry during the post-pandemic boom and immediately vaulted into fast-paced, high-volume chaos. Her business skyrocketed as she learned the industry and became licensed in 25 additional states. Her volume jumped by more than 350% in a year, from $50 million in closed loans in 2021 to $232 million in 2022.
Gurtler recently told Scotsman Guide that her wild growth was due to a lot of hard work and sacrifice. Her first two years, she had to hit the gas and learn as much as she could without falling behind. It was difficult, but she thrived in the high-pressure environment.
Now she’s hit her stride and is intimately familiar with the loan process in New York — which she calls “very long and unique” — as well as the other states she originates in. She studies constantly, keeping up with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rules along with special guidelines for self-employed borrowers. And Gurtler is organized and proactive, with spreadsheets full of borrowers who locked in at higher rates and a calendar packed with reminders to follow up.
She spends her working hours in Manhattan’s Financial District, in an office she calls “inspiring” because of co-workers who are team players (even if they’re technically competing for loans). After hours, you can find her at a comedy show in the city or at home cuddling her dog, Jax.
As a loan consultant for Ally, which partners with Better Mortgage Corp. on its digital platform, Gurtler has one of the largest marketing forces in the industry behind her. She also has a built-in client base in Ally’s banking and auto loan customers. While business slowed a bit in 2023, she still faces a unique problem in the current market: a full pipeline and more loans than she can close by herself.
“There is a lot of volume, so being able to get to everyone can be a challenge,” Gurtler said. “That requires a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, to sit down and make those phone calls, answer those emails and be available as much as I can.”
She said she had to learn to be a leader and delegate when she needs assistance. She mentions her team often and affectionately, attributing much of her success to their support. Gurtler’s team of loan officer assistants keep in touch with borrowers early in the home purchase process and provide round-the-clock customer service.
This frees her up to focus on more immediate matters like borrowers with accepted offers, closing dates within 90 days and refinance applications. The market slowdown has allowed her more time to interface with each client and to chat with people who are still shopping. She’s earned one of the top accolades among Ally originators for spending so much time on the phone.
“I’m enjoying (the job) more because I feel like I’m giving that personal attention to my clients,” Gurtler said. “I’m building better connections, and I feel happier when they get their offer accepted or they get out of a high adjustable rate, because I know them more personally.”
The slowdown has also offered her a chance to regroup and “get off the hamster wheel.” Her company, she said, is focused on launching new services, including fully underwritten preapproval letters and a 24-hour turnaround on commitment letters.
“Having that in our back pocket is all the rage,” Gurtler said. “The Realtors love hearing that.”
She also has more time to travel and pursue her favorite hobby, snowboarding. Gurtler has made a point to travel to cities that are seeing a lot of in-migration, like Charlotte. When she talks to borrowers buying homes in these cities, it’s easier to build rapport because she understands the area and its way of life.
“I might be the only loan officer that feels this way, but I enjoyed 2023. Maybe not volume-wise, but I’m not in this industry to just make money,” Gurtler said.
Her biggest reward comes from helping people, especially first-time buyers, get into their dream homes. “My favorite thing in the world is when we go over their monthly payment and they tell me that it’s cheaper than rent. Best feeling,” she said. ●
Tips of the Trade
Work with your team if you’re lucky enough to have one. It’s impossible to do everything on your own. You need to work well with others and delegate. Those qualities can really help you reach more clients. Remember how important this is for the client — they’re buying a house or saving money on a refi. This is a big deal, so don’t lose sight of how you’re helping others. Make sure you follow up as much as possible. Stay on top of the borrower so they feel important, because they are.