With $434 million in total loan volume last year alone, Guaranteed Rate’s Shant Banosian is one of the top originators in the United States. MPA recently chatted with Banosian about the challenges facing the industry, how fintech will affect the future – and how originators can kick their businesses to the next level.
MPA: What are the biggest challenges the industry is facing right now?
From an originator standpoint, the biggest challenge right now is it’s a very purchase-driven market. In a purchase market where there’s very low inventory, originators are spending a lot of time doing pre-approvals, and there are a lot of multiple-offer situations. Because there’s so little inventory and so much buyer demand, you’re spending a lot of time doing pre-approvals for borrowers who don’t end up getting their offer accepted.
From an industry perspective, I’d say the market is demanding a quicker, more efficient process. We’re ramping up technology to do that, but there are some parts of the process that are still really arcane. For instance, there aren’t enough appraisers out there. I can close in two weeks – but sometimes it takes two weeks just to get an appraisal done.
MPA: You’re one of the top originators in the country every year. How do you keep production numbers up in a challenging market?
The one thing we’ve done in our market is really focus on working within the real estate community. We try to stay ahead of the game in terms of communicating with realtors. We give them confidence that we’re going to do an amazing job for their clients. And whenever purchase volume slows down, I immediately look to reach out to my previous clients to see if I can offer refinances. We’re also staying on social media to make sure realtors and clients are constantly being educated about what we bring to the table.
It’s also about responding to the market. If the market demands a quick closing, we need to do a quick closing. If customers want a digital process, we need to not only offer that, but let everyone know that we have it – and why it’s better than anyone else’s. A lot of people have great products, but if nobody knows about them it doesn’t do much good. It’s a two-part process – staying in front of the needs of your clients, and constantly educating them about what we bring to the table.
MPA: You mentioned digital processes. How much do you think fintech is going to disrupt the mortgage industry?
I think technology has disrupted almost every facet of our lives in practically every business. Ask the taxi industry about Uber, or the hotel industry about Airbnb. So yes, I think technology is going to disrupt our business; it’s already disrupted our business in terms of making it easier and faster. I don’t think we’re at the point where originators are going to be replaced by artificial intelligence, but technology is going to make the process more transparent. It’ll drive down costs for consumers; hopefully it’ll drive down costs for lenders as well.
I think our industry will be a lot different five years from now than it is today. It’s already a lot different now than it was five years ago. With an online application, a client can now have their credit pulled, they can send all their information to me, and we can have their desktop underwriting findings before they even speak to me. All of that stuff can happen in half an hour or 45 minutes today. And they can do all that stuff from their phone. That’s a major change.
MPA: Finally, what advice do you have for originators who want to take their businesses to the next level?
You have to be very well-rounded. You have to have a business-development plan. You have to have a marketing plan. You have to have an operations plan. You have to focus on service and quality. And as the business grows, you can’t lose sight of any of those things. Too many brokers focus on only being a great salesperson, and don’t focus on the other parts of the business. You can be the greatest salesperson in the world, but if you don’t drive in leads, what good does that do? It’s all about constantly educating yourself about those things, and treating it just like any other successful business.
How do you survive a refi slump?
4 Guaranteed Rate leaders chosen for MPA's Young Guns