Residential Magazine

It’s Not a Job, It’s a Career

The fast-changing mortgage industry sometimes can be overwhelming

By Nathan Rufty

As a mortgage originator, at times you’ll feel like you have a strong grasp on the industry. Other times, you won’t. The industry changes quickly with new licensing rules, program guidelines, disclosure processes and so on. These take time to digest and properly understand.

Some originators may feel like it’s too difficult to take time away from working on daily tasks to learn a new program or better understand how the loan process works. The ones who truly want to advance their career and serve their clients best, however, will consider this essential.

When a guideline changes on a popular loan product and you elect not to review and understand the change, that is when you will feel the tide turn against you. At times like this, you need to get back to the basics, start small and do what got you to the level you are at now.

One of the key ingredients — if not the key — to longevity in the mortgage business is this commitment to continued learning. The business may change, but how we learn has not.

Deep comprehension

The mortgage industry is chock-full of complex loan programs, too many for any one originator to know each and every underwriting guideline. Select the programs that your company is proficient with so you understand the guidelines of those loan programs.

Deeply understanding the guidelines will enhance your ability to present that product to your client with confidence. Most companies offer reading material, videos to watch or webinars to attend on how to originate a loan or make the most from their company’s loan operating system. Take advantage of those tools.

What about how to interact with your borrower? Learn to speak their language. For instance, when you work with an individual who is active military, when requesting their pay statement, ask for their leave and earning statement (LES). By showing that you know it’s called an LES, they will feel much more comfortable with you.

It is up to you, the originator, to train on how to present yourself and your product. You need to set a training schedule each week. This could be one day a week or an hour each day. You can work on how to define and achieve objectives; how to present yourself versus how to sell; and when to stop talking and start listening.

Some of these areas can be learned through self-help reading materials or by watching informative videos on how to present with purpose. Nothing will beat on-the-job training, however. The more you connect with potential borrowers and speak to them, the better you will become at delivering your message. The presentation is as important as the message.

Opportunity to learn

Each person looking to purchase or refinance a home presents you with an opportunity to learn. Watch how that person responds when you answer a question; how their body language changes if you are in front of them; or how the tone of their voice changes after you mention the monthly estimated mortgage payment or how much it will cost to close.

Noticing these reactions by the borrower will train you on your next encounter, and prepare you to deliver that message better the next time. Whether you know it or not, you are learning a lesson each day when you put that mortgage hat on. Recognize these moments for what they are so you will become a better originator.

When it comes to career development, understand that successful originators know this is a career, not a job. Don’t act like a 9-to-5, W-2 employee. Invest in yourself with money and time to advance your sales skills.

Having a Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) number does not mean you understand everything about the mortgage business. The NMLS identifier just gives you the ability to present loan options with a payment schedule and rate.

It is up to you to decide how to move your career forward. You can join a team that enables you to draw from the skills and talents of your teammates, and thereby enables you to build your knowledge more quickly than you would alone. Or you can start in a junior position, working under another originator who has some tenure and who would be willing to teach you. Both of those avenues can be more effective than trying to train by yourself and improve your skills through trial and error.

• • •

To remain relevant and knowledgeable, and earn referrals, originators owe it to their borrowers and themselves to learn, grow and be the valuable professional that your clients demand. Take control of your career by setting a training schedule for yourself. Learn how to present a particular loan program with confidence. Develop the professionalism that will set you apart from other originators who think this is a job and not a career.


  • Nathan Rufty

    Nathan Rufty is a mortgage coach and trainer with Mortgage Marketing Pros, a company that works with loan officers to develop marketing plans that increase leads and closed loans. Mortgage Marketing Pros was created by a producing loan officer and a master marketer to teach mortgage professionals how to create their own businesses without relying so much on one or two streams that can dry up without warning.

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