For the second year in a row, Shant Banosian seized the top spot on Scotsman Guide’s Top Dollar Volume rankings. The Massachusetts-based branch manager for Guaranteed Rate generated $915.7 million in loan volume last year, a 71% increase from $536.4 million in 2018.
Banosian closed 1,907 loans last year, including 1,126 purchase loans and 781 refinances. He and his team entered the year with a plan to focus on purchase volume, but they also capitalized on the low interest rates fueling the refinance boom.
“That’s part of the commitment and promise that we make to clients is that we will stay in touch with you, and we will do semi-annual reviews with you every year and let you know when you can get a better interest [rate],” Banosian said.
The key is to provide at least as good of an experience on refinances as on previous transactions, Banosian said.
“You can’t do a great job upfront and then let the client have a miserable experience (on a refinance),” he said. “You’ve got to do even better. What happens is that mushrooms into more and more referrals.”
He credits his expanding team of about a dozen for the year’s results. “The value of my business is all built on the amazing people that I work with internally on my team and externally in terms of referral partners,” he said. “And finally, the clients that we serve.”
It wasn’t always this way for Banosian. He found himself out of a job during the housing downturn, one of more than 3,000 laid off from a regional lender on a single day in 2007. He didn’t know if he would continue in the mortgage industry. But he persevered, landing a new job with Superior Mortgage, which was purchased by Guaranteed Rate in 2012. He has grown his origination volume every year since.
The value of my business is all built on the amazing people that I work with internally on my team and externally in terms of referral partners.
He thinks a reason for his success has been a focus on the entirety of his business. “I think too many loan officers treat themselves just like salespeople, and they don’t realize that in order to grow your business, you’ve got to treat it like you’re a business owner or a CEO,” he said.
Mind you, sales is important — the phone needs to ring off the hook and the inbox needs to be brimming with e-mails. The best originators, Banosian said, also need to focus on operations, processing, business development, marketing, customer service, client retention and branding.
“Doing one loan for somebody is great, but really the goal is to do as many loans as possible for those people over the course of time,” he said.
One of his big initiatives last year was expanding the reach of his brand. Banosian had been focused almost exclusively on the New England market, licensed in Massachusetts and four surrounding states. In 2019, he obtained his license in 24 additional states. In doing so, he’s been able to maintain and renew relationships with past clients and referral partners who had moved out of New England.
Banosian aims to be licensed in all 50 states this year. And that should help him and his team with the goal of surpassing a new milestone in 2020.
“We came pretty close last year,” Banosian said. “With these low rates fueling the housing market, the strong purchase market and refinances, if that sustains, I think we should have a pretty good shot at doing $1 billion this year.”