Ghayan Chhotani was putting himself through college two years ago, working as a sales associate at a GNC store in Manhattan Beach, California. One day, a man wearing an expensive suit complimented Chhotani on his customer sales skills.
“I told him I appreciate that,” Chhotani said. “And I was like, ‘This is going to sound weird, but honestly, you wear a nice suit, you drive a nice car, you look like you have a really nice job. What do you do for a living?’”
The mortgage industry, the man repled, adding that Chhotani should give it a shot. That was all the push that Chhotani needed. Although he was still in the process of earning his economics degree at Long Beach State University, Chhotani said he sent his resume to 120 mortgage companies the following week.
One of the companies, Sovereign Lending Group, responded and invited him to join a trainee program. It has worked out well for both Chhotani and Sovereign. Last year, Chhotani originated 645 loans, all refinances, for $190 million. Of that volume, $150 million was in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans. And that helped Chhotani rank second in the nation for Top VA Volume in Scotsman Guide’s annual Top Originators rankings.
Chhotani entered the mortgage industry in the spring of 2018 when interest rates were climbing and there was pressure on all originators. Almost immediately, he was worried that he could lose his job with a single misstep. Within a month after receiving his license, however, Chhotani was breaking the company’s sales records.
If I can find a way to get 1% better, that’s one more person that I can help.
“I think I hit my first month where I realized, ‘Oh my God, I made like $30,000,” Chhotani said. “Most people would take it and say, ‘Wow, this is great, I’m going to go celebrate.’ For me it was, ‘OK, how can I get better now?’”
Sovereign’s founder, Dan Holtz, helped Chhotani put together a plan to increase his production with a series of daily and even hourly goals. Chhotani is competitive and wanted to pit himself against the best originators in the nation, Holtz said.
“He’s kind of in his own league at our company, “ Holtz said. “So, we have to look at what other originators are doing out there … He has to have that push and motivation to hit that next level.”
Chhotani’s success is a result of a combination of putting in long hours and a determination to get better at his job. He remembers paying $800 for a coaching program and justifying the expense to a co-worker.
“If I can find a way to get 1% better, that’s one more person that I can help,” Chhotani said. “It’s one more person who could refer me to, like, 20 different people.”
One loan scenario proved that notion true, Chhotani said. He was working over one weekend with a client in Las Vegas, who was deciding between Sovereign and another mortgage company. The client eventually chose Chhotani and Sovereign, and that client has refinanced all of his investment properties and referred dozens of other clients to Chhotani.
Chhotani has kept in touch with the man in the expensive suit who first told him about the mortgage industry. Chhotani said the man runs his own mortgage company and attempted to hire him. Chhotani said he’s forever grateful for the initial advice, but he decided to stay with Sovereign.
“I told my friend, ‘Listen, I appreciate you telling me to go in this direction, but I owe it to Sovereign because they paid for all my licensing,” Chhotani said. “I have to stay loyal to them.”
For the 11th year in a row, we compiled the industry’s most comprehensive list of the nation’s top mortgage originators. The rankings include not only the originators who are closing 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 2019 at scotsmanguide.com/top2019.