Residential Magazine

Winning After the Refi Boom Ends

Successful originators won’t miss a beat when the market changes direction

By Scott Harris

The reality, of course, is that rates will eventually go up. When they do rise, there will be winners and losers across the mortgage company landscape. Collectively speaking, the formulas for success among the nation’s top originators have evolved in recent times, but their major themes for success remain the same. First, pick the right organization to work with. Second, do what you’re good at. Third, you should either love your job or leave it. 

A team sport

Being able to serve and impress your clients is a team sport. The loan originator is the quarterback, but blocking and tackling also are important. The offense is comprised of processors, underwriters, the closing desk and several other key players. The right company is heavily invested in team success, which means a lot of highly integrated and automated technologies.

Interestingly enough, data indicates a vast disparity from one company to another. Client satisfaction measured over time is a prime indicator for understanding how everyone is performing as a team. It is noteworthy that the No. 1 sales professional at Company A might not be among the top 50 at Company B. This is almost always an indicator of organizational inefficiencies.

Looking at the client’s loan journey, a mortgage company should identify any current friction and roadblocks. Does the company’s technology automate and mistake-proof much of the process? Does the company have the right tech tools for marketing and growth? Client-satisfaction surveys should offer insights into any needed improvements.

Find your forte

Top sales performers know what they’re good at and understand the concept of sticking to their strengths. For everything else, they refer to their colleagues. Interestingly, those who aren’t top performers also think they know what they’re good at, but they’re usually missing a vital step: doing it.

Take, for example, an originator with aspirations of growing his business. When asked what he’s good at, he responds by saying, “I am a relationship guy.” But when asked about the number of one-on-one meetings he had the previous week with existing or prospective real estate partners, his reply is, “None. I’m too busy.”

If an originator is good at relationships, then their success hinges on setting up meetings and prioritizing them. If necessary, this means that they delegate other tasks. In order to focus on building relationships, they utilize their co-workers who are good at documentation, processing and every other part of the mortgage transaction. Top performers always seem to have this under control. If they lose a staff member, they find a quality replacement and keep on winning.

To grow, mortgage companies have to have teams, plans and objectives, and they must measure key results. Even originators who close tens or hundreds of millions of dollars in loans each year may find it difficult to place a dollar value on the importance of their team. Many of these top producers have worked with the same processors and underwriters for years.

Some companies have a “handoff” system in which the originator finishes their work before passing the loan file to the processor and underwriter, who can engage with the borrower. Other successful companies do it differently, however, by working with the borrower as a team until the loan is closed. Someone then calls the client to see if they need any further help or advice. 

Originators should identify what they’re good at, then ask themselves how many times they did it this week or this month. Are you doing things you aren’t good at? Can you exponentially grow your business with your current processes and team members?

Motivating force

The job of selling mortgages is not always easy, but lives are being changed and improved. Originators who succeed in this profession find a bigger purpose than simply making money. Top producers do well financially, but when they are asked why they toil day after day — answering emails at night and on weekends while sifting through mounds of paperwork daily — they don’t say it’s because of the money. They tell a story about why their job is worth it.

The best stories may come from working with specific types of borrowers, such as military service members and veterans who utilize government loan programs. When these clients locate your mortgage company, they may have exhausted all of their options and have no eligibility left, so an originator and their team should be relentless in identifying solutions. Believe in the borrower’s dream and fight for it. 

Take, for example, an active-duty soldier and his spouse who were so overjoyed at being able to buy their first home against all odds that they wrote an inspiring and heartfelt review about their originator and mortgage company. In this business, originators don’t often get many “attaboys,” so any pat on the back can encourage them and their team so that they’re motivated to do more extraordinary things.

Among the nation’s top mortgage originators and companies, each and every one consistently has a passion for their team and their clients. There is an internal fire to get things right while doing them quickly and helping borrowers to close on time. They want to be the best at what they do and there is no attitude of “that can wait till tomorrow.”

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There are literally thousands of reasons why mortgage originators strive for success. They have inspiring stories about the lives they’ve improved or borrowers who dramatically improved their credit to make homeownership possible.

Eventually, rates will rise and this refinance boom will slow down, but the top-performing originators will not have to worry about their business. These people do not get to the top by chance. They find the right company, run their business like a machine, focus on what they’re good at, build a great team and are passionate about the work they do. ●


  • Scott Harris

    Scott Harris is the founder and CEO of SocialSurvey and co-founder of BuyersRoad Inc. He has held senior executive positions for mortgage lending and real estate companies, and he has been creating technology solutions for these industries for more than 15 years.

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