Jennifer Tsang of Better.com sees her role as a mortgage originator as a consultative one. She tries to avoid pressuring clients and instead tries to clearly lay out options for each loan scenario.
“I tell myself I might not win every borrower that I talk to,” Tsang said. “If I do my due diligence and let them know what the benefits are of refinancing, even if they don’t go with us right now, that’s fine. They’ll appreciate you later and come back for their next home purchase or refinance.”
Her approach has worked well. In 2019, in only her second year at Better.com, Tsang closed 807 loans for a total volume of nearly $281.6 million, with 98% of that volume via refinances. That was good enough for her to finish No. 2 in Scotsman Guide’s Top Women Originators rankings. She also finished No. 7 for Top Refinance Volume, No. 18 for Top Dollar Volume and No. 19 for Most Closed Loans among all originators.
Part of her success can be attributed to the business model for Better.com, a fast-growing company that aims to offer an easy-to-navigate online application process. Still, Tsang ranks among the top two or three originators at her company.
She said that has meant spending many hours working with higher-intent borrowers and nurturing leads. “It was definitely a lot of long nights and weekends, and making myself available all the time for the borrowers,” Tsang said.
Working at a startup, you make more of an impact on a company because you’re involved with how it’s changing; you’re involved with the trial and error.
Tsang grew up in the Seattle area and graduated from the University of Washington at Bothell with a business degree in 2013. During high school and college, and even after graduation, Tsang worked at Bank of America. She rose from a teller to a loan officer. But she wanted to work for a financial-technology company.
“I loved Bank of America,” Tsang said. “But I think, working at a startup, you make more of an impact on a company because you’re involved with how it’s changing; you’re involved with the trial and error. You definitely don’t get that at a bigger corporation.”
She landed a job with Better.com and relocated to San Francisco in June 2018 to work at the company’s Oakland office. She was among the first 250 employees hired by the company. And she spent her first several months obtaining mortgage licenses in several states before starting to originate loans in November 2018.
Better.com was founded in 2016 and has grown to employ more than 3,000 people, with offices in New York, North Carolina and two in California. The company’s online portal allows consumers to submit basic information that will generate a loan estimate and application.
Much of the work is done through the online portal, where borrowers can access interest rates, review estimates and then choose to move forward. At that point, Tsang can help clients complete the loan process.
She works in a group of three or four called a pod, but since she’s the licensed originator, only she can discuss rates. One of the company’s marketing points is that originators don’t earn commissions, although Tsang said she receives a generous salary and bonuses.
She spends most of her time on the phone with clients, which has made for an easy transition as the coronavirus forced office closures in California. It hasn’t prevented her from creating a connection with borrowers.
“It’s not always about the cost and the rate,” Tsang said. “It’s also about the entire experience, and the trust and the relationship built with the borrowers. People will work with people who are looking out for their best interests, rather than just looking out for the company’s interests.” ●
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.