Some 23 years ago, Seattle-based originator Julie Johnson was a young single mom with three small children. She needed to get to school every day to pick up her kids. A family member, who was in the mortgage business, described a typical day in the office. Johnson was sold on the flexible hours.
“So, I jumped right in and never left,” she said.
Johnson said her competitive spirit kept her going. She also could handle those grinding hours that drive many to quit after a few months.
A few years ago, Johnson sought out a professional coach and ultimately joined a group where successful people in various fields coach each other. Johnson credits that program for turning her on to the power of never wasting her time.
Today her weekly schedule rarely changes. Johnson said she calls her network of Realtors every Monday. On Tuesday, she devotes most of the day to updating her clients on the progress of their mortgages in the pipeline. Wednesday is about touching base with people who are still working on their loan applications. Thursday is devoted to reaching out to past clients. Friday is reserved for a special group of people whom she calls her VIP list.
Johnson said she couldn’t stick to this routine so religiously without an underlying passion for helping people.
“I still get excited today when I see my clients,” Johnson said. “I get joy from knowing that I am part of one of the big wows in their life. We are in the wow business, so it is an exciting thing to do for our clients. If you don’t have that passion and that joy, it is going to be hard to get up in the morning.”
It was an especially hot year for Seattle’s home-purchase market in 2017, and a good year for Johnson. She closed 329 loans, with a balance exceeding $134 million. Her dollar volume increased by $56 million in 2017 over the 2016 number. Although Seattle’s market slowed in the latter half of 2018, Johnson said she closed the same numbers of loans in 2018 as in 2017.
“You can’t really control what happens with the market, but you can tell clients why it is still great to buy: Building wealth, savings, all that good stuff,” Johnson said. “But, honestly, it is about … having that grit to make it through these challenging times.”
After several years of persistence, Johnson said she worked herself into a position where she can spend a more reasonable 40-45 hours a week at the office, giving her more time to spend with her husband and six children.
“It is going to be tough the next couple of years, but the advice that I would give [an originator starting out] is, don’t give up, persevere,” Johnson said. “The beauty about this business is that the sky is the limit. It is not easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”