Sometimes, when it’s in your genes, it’s in your genes. Lysa Catlin, a second-generation mortgage professional who works for Caliber Home Loans, was absolutely positive when she was a kid that she didn’t want to follow in the family business.
“My mother owned a brokerage firm in California and I started working for her in high school as a runner, back before electronic files,” Catlin recalled. “You literally had paper files that you’d have to go deliver to the lender or to escrow. Of course, in high school, I thought it was the worst thing ever and I swore I would never be a loan officer.”
For a while, she sought to follow through on that oath, pursuing a degree in biochemistry and cell biology. Upon graduation, she worked professionally as a scientist for a year before transitioning into medical sales.
“I was 24 years old and I had a four-state territory,” Catlin said. “My job was to fly around to all these different hospitals with my equipment. I’d present my equipment to the doctors and nurses, and hope that they bought it, until finally I realized that I hated traveling for work.
“I love working. I like to work hard, but I like to be home at night. And so, of course, my mom said, ‘Well, why don’t you just join the family business for a year or two while you figure out what you’d like to do with your career?’ So, I rejoined her and that’s really all she wrote.”
I can look at a loan file and I can see multiple ways to put that file together in my head, even when I was young and freshly in the business.
It was a fateful decision, according to Catlin, who said she loves being a mortgage originator and can’t imagine her life turning out differently. Not only does she enjoy her circuitously chosen vocation, she’s one of the nation’s best, ranking 10th among Scotsman Guide’s Top Women Originators in 2019 with $182,949,360 in loan volume.
Every stop on her career route has added a new tool to her loan origination arsenal, Catlin said. For one, the analytical mind she honed while immersed in the sciences helps her dissect loan scenarios with rapid clarity to find the best solutions for her clients.
“I think that’s one of my secret powers, even when I was young,” she said. “I can look at a loan file and I can see multiple ways to put that file together in my head, even when I was really young and freshly in the business. And I have a steel trap for guidelines, so I think that has really served me well.”
Her previous sales experience, too, helped bring her out of her shell when she first entered the mortgage industry. This turned a weakness into a strength.
“I was shy initially,” she said. “I had to overcome that. Being in science, I used to be quiet. That was one of the harder things for me in the (mortgage) business — getting over that fear and talking to people that I didn’t know. And now I love that. Now, anyone who knows me would never call me quiet.”
Conquering this fear early has keyed her run of success. At its heart, Catlin said, mortgage origination is a business of forging strong bonds and doing so requires strong communication.
“I really believe in the basics,” she said. “I’m not the fanciest loan officer. I truly believe in the ‘belly-to-belly,’ build-the-relationship business. Do a good job. Call people back. Do what you say you’re going to do. Twenty-four hours a day. Seven days a week.
“In this business, we get to help so many people we work with, so I feel like we owe it to them to stay sharp, stay on point and back up what you say. [That philosophy] has served me and my team well over the years, and helped us get to this level. And I truly believe that sticking to it will help us reach the next one and help so many more people as we go.” ●