Jennifer Beeston’s first encounter with the mortgage industry was a terrible one. In the mid-2000s, Beeston and her husband bought their first home with little knowledge of mortgages and without knowing what questions to ask. Their lender never went over payments, debt-to-income ratios or closing costs. The couple were simply told they could buy a home, so they did.
“We were so excited to be in our dream house … and then we got the bill,” Beeston said. “I still remember it to this day. I had my son on my hip and I almost dropped him when I opened it. We were officially house poor.”
I will retire when VA buyers are known as the most aggressive shoppers and the VA market is similar to conventional, with lower rate disparity. That is my mission.
Beeston said that stressful experience became the framework for her entire career. A year after getting that loan, Beeston began working as an office manager at a mortgage company and quickly transitioned into sales. Fifteen years later, she originates in 48 states, with a focus on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) loans and first-time homebuyers, groups that are more vulnerable to being taken advantage of.
In an effort to spread her knowledge to as many people as possible, Beeston turned to education. She’s taken to social media and has amassed nearly 100,000 followers across her platforms, with many of her YouTube videos garnering tens or even hundreds of thousands of views.
“Education has been the cornerstone of the business,” Beeston said. “If I can save people from the house-poor nightmare, whether they work with me or another lender, I have done my job and can sleep at night.”
Her focus on VA lending is near and dear to her heart. Her father and grandfather each served in the Navy, and her father was able to use the GI Bill to go to law school. Beeston saw firsthand that military benefits, VA loans included, can be game changers for entire families. But she saw a problem with the system: VA mortgage costs can vary wildly from lender to lender, since companies are free to set their own rates and fees.
Once she noticed this disparity, Beeston said, she saw it every day. She started making videos on her YouTube channel about it, leaned into VA origination to serve as many borrowers as possible and encouraged veterans to spread the word. “I will retire when VA buyers are known as the most aggressive shoppers and the VA market is similar to conventional, with lower rate disparity,” Beeston said. “That is my mission.”
Her strategies have worked. In 2021, Beeston originated 348 VA loans to the tune of $126 million in volume. She placed 13th in Scotsman Guide’s Top VA Volume rankings and was the top woman originator in the category. Her purchase business grew further in 2022, thanks to rate-lock options for her clients and fully underwritten preapprovals.
Beeston said she expects business to remain about the same in 2023. She and her husband are taking time this year to focus on finding new hobbies after recently becoming empty nesters.
“This is a new era of figuring out what makes my heart sing,” Beeston said. “I have a few surf camps set up. So, by the end of the year, I will either be a surfer, or someone with some great stories about almost drowning and being whacked by a board multiple times. Either way, it will be entertaining.” ●
Tips of the Trade
Being a lender can be very stressful and without solid support you can feel alone. Having a network that you can joke with and learn from is critical. Treat your clients the way you would want to be treated. Would you want to get ripped off and lied to? Baited and switched? End up house poor? No. Do what is best for them and your business will grow. Only think about money and yourself, and a lender like me will take you out.