Residential Magazine

Quit Doing This Right Now

Put the kibosh on these bad habits and watch success follow

By Douglas Smith

The old saying goes that winners never quit and quitters never win. That may be true when it comes to sports, life or even a long-term career as a mortgage originator. But there are times and circumstances where quitting is exactly the right thing to do.

Many of today’s originators — in their quest to find more clients, close more loans and make more money — need to stop some of the bad habits and practices that are holding them back from achieving just that. Here are several things originators should consider quitting right now.

Streamlined business

To start, successful mortgage originators should quit taking on bad loans. You only get paid for deals that close, so accepting and laboring over applications from hard-luck cases or marginally motivated homebuyers is a surefire way to not get paid for your time and talent as a mortgage professional.

If you do a decent job of prequalifying borrowers upfront, you should know from the outset whether the transaction is a good one. If it is a real deal, get to work on it. If not, clearly explain the situation to your borrower, offer some coaching on what he or she should do, thank them for considering you, then go after a more promising prospect.

Along the same lines, originators should quit paying real estate agents for business referrals. Writing checks or handing cash over to real estate agents to fund their advertising or subsidize the purchase of homebuyer leads is not only illegal, per the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act — it’s also a poor and potentially costly business practice. If a hefty monthly payment of $200 to $500 to obtain some referrals is the main thing a real estate agent wants from you, you are in a one-way relationship — and a bad one at that.

Next, you should quit babysitting your loans in process. Learn to take a complete loan application, hand it off and trust others to do their jobs so you can do yours — originate. The more time you spend each day reviewing, talking about and fixating on the loans you already have in your pipeline, the less time you’ll have to make another contact, set up another appointment, attend another event or follow up on another lead. In the end, this means less opportunity to get paid to originate another loan.

Focus and consistency

Quit focusing on what you don’t have. Some mortgage originators are forever talking about the loan products, technology tools and support systems they don’t have. This “grass-is-greener” envy of competitors will never do you any good. Every mortgage company has its strengths and weaknesses. Know what you have, sell what you have and try to be happy about it.

In the mortgage industry, consistency is the key to success, so mortgage originators should quit changing lanes. The originators who are consistent in their marketing efforts, relationship-development strategies and overall operations are — almost without exception — the most successful ones. If you find yourself chasing the flavor of the month when it comes to prospecting activities or you are forever jumping on the bandwagon of the latest industry trends, you are unlikely to ever get enough traction to make anything stick. Pick a path, be committed to it and press on.

If the mortgage industry had a “waiting room,” it would be packed. There are thousands of originators out there waiting on something — for the phone to ring, for interest rates to drop, for a new loan program to be introduced or for their company merger to be finalized.

Contrary to popular belief, good things do not come to those who wait. Good things come to people who take action. Look at the top producers in your company or your market who are closing $3 million, $5 million or even $10 million in loans every month. Do you think they are sitting around waiting for something to happen?

Attitude and effort

Technology is a great enabler, but it also can serve as a large wedge between you and potential clients. Quit living behind your computer screen.

Spending all day staring at your computer (whether you’re reading e-mails, studying market trends, catching up on news or following people on Facebook) is no way to meet more people, acquire more clients or close more loans. Limit your daily screen time to just one or two hours at the most. Then pick up your car keys and go see someone.

There are certain phrases — such as “our rates aren’t competitive,” “our underwriting is too slow,” or “we don’t get recognized enough around here” — that you may have heard or said at the office. Nobody likes a whiner, so quit complaining. To put it bluntly, if you are unhappy at your current company, resign today. You should leave a company that isn’t recognizing or supporting you and go to work for another lender that will. Hanging around and griping about things will only alienate you from your peers and label you as a troublemaker with your superiors. That’s surely not the reputation you’re seeking.

Finally, quit searching for the “magic pill.” There are plenty of snake-oil salesmen in our industry trying to peddle a miraculous lead-generation system or a marvelous coaching program that promises to turn you into a superstar overnight. Don’t get sucked into this kind of sales pitch.

Realize that the keys to success are never bought from someone else. If you really want to be a top loan producer, you need to show up at the office early each morning and put in the hours. Work hard every day, be consistent and take care of your clients. Have a plan, and follow through on your goals and commitments. If you do what it really takes to succeed, that’s what will actually happen.


  • Douglas Smith

    Douglas Smith is president of Douglas Smith & Associates, a sales-training and performance-coaching company specializing in the banking and mortgage industries. He is a nationally acclaimed speaker and author who helps lenders find more clients, close more loans and make more money. Visit 

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