Georgia mortgage originator Shane Siniard once worked as an electrical engineer for a string of Fortune 500 companies, but discovered his true calling only after a real estate deal went bad.
In the early 2000s, Siniard dabbled in rental-property investments. After a few years in that business, he was looking to sell all of them.
“I went through a highly recommended mortgage broker that my brother recommended, and had a buyer for four of my duplexes,” Siniard said. After two months, the closings kept falling through.
“I drove an hour each way to go to closing — no closing package there, no communication from the lender,” Siniard recalls. “Eventually, my buyer walked. He said, ‘Listen, I have got a 750 credit score. I have got money in the bank. This should be a very easy deal to do.’ He walked away.”
Siniard said this bad experience led him to a conclusion: He could do better.
Siniard obtained a mortgage broker’s license and has never looked back. Now a senior loan officer with San Antonio-based SWBC, Siniard placed No. 2 on Scotsman Guide’s most recent Top USDA Volume list — with 2017 USDA loan originations totaling $15.1 million. His 499 loan closings also placed him at No. 47 on the 2017 Most Loans Closed list.
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) program is a natural fit for Siniard’s business. He lives and works in Bartow County, Georgia, about 50 miles north of Atlanta. The entire county is USDA-loan eligible.
Siniard said most of his clients are low- to moderate- income first-time buyers, who require the 100 percent financing that the USDA loan program offers. His average loan size is about $175,000.
Siniard has been in the business long enough to see the boom-bust cycle in the refinance market twice, and has specialized in home-purchase loans for several years. Just 10 percent of his loans were refinances in 2017. So, he said, a lack of homes for sale presents the biggest challenge in the market for him now. Siniard added that many of his clients have been facing stiff competition from other bidders.
“We are on track to close about the same number of loans as we did last year, which is great, considering many people [other originators] are down about 20 percent,” Siniard said. “With interest rates going up, it really hasn’t affected us that much. What has affected us more than anything is low inventory. We have had people who have been looking for months, or making multiple offers, and not getting those properties under contract.”
Siniard said the secret of his success is forming strong relationships with Realtors and other referral partners. He said he has stayed in the business for the same reason he got into it originally.
“I love helping people, and every day I sit down with clients, and I meet about half my clients,” Siniard said. “So, for me, it is not about the money at this point in my life. It is about helping as many people as I can. That passion goes with me every day.”