Taking things one step at a time is hard in our harried, multitasking lives, but for top originator Dianne Crosby, it’s the only way to run her mortgage business.
Crosby is a branch manager and VP of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate. She closed just over $117 million in 2017, and although it seems counterintuitive, she got there by working methodically, closing one loan at a time. That’s getting harder for originators to do given the fierce competition that originators are facing.
“We’ve been through this really fast and furious period, and especially in the Bay Area, where a realtor will call me and say, ‘how fast can you close,’ and that’s their opening line. As a lender, you want to answer, ‘well, as fast as anyone else.’ You may not ask the question directly, but the thought is, ‘how fast do I need to close to earn your business?’ But then clients get into contract and we find that they’re feeling overwhelmed because we professionals—realtors, mortgage lenders, escrow officers—we’re used to the pace, but a buyer isn’t. And without taking the time to really educate the buyer upfront, we’re not doing them a service,” Crosby said.
To counter that, originators need to have more in-depth discussions of the process, creating the best profile and counsel for the mortgage that the clients choose. Crosby was given the ‘one loan at a time’ advice by the broker manager on her very first day as a loan assistant, and it’s been a valuable piece of advice regardless of the mortgage market landscape over her 17-year career.
“It’s advice I take every day. When I’m working on one file or talking to one client, I give them 100% of my attention. If I have a client who’s a new preapproval, and I start to work on it and then I start doing something else, and then a call comes in and I’m interrupted, I’m not going to be able to give my best work to any of those. So I have to slow down,” she said. “It’s also more efficient. The more mistakes I make, the more I find that mistakes are really time consuming. It’s so much faster to just do it right the first time.”
Crosby said that the period of time before the first offer gets written is where originators have the greatest opportunity to provide careful consultation. The best originators make sure that their approach leaves enough time up front to talk through the responsibilities of carrying a loan, the various loan products available, what the client’s profile qualifies them to do and what that client’s personal needs and preferences are to find the right fit in a loan product.
But the industry, Crosby said, actually encourages defensive play. When a client calls due to a referral and asks about rate right off the bat, most originators go on the defensive and immediately start clicking buttons and having that conversation without actually knowing anything about the individual who’s on the other end of the line.
One way to shift to offensive play is by expanding into areas apart from origination. Crosby found that getting involved in her local Berkeley, CA, community in ways that weren’t directly related to mortgage lending allowed her to access new networking circles. She joined a local task force that was created in order to examine new legislation for accessory dwelling units, and it “mushroomed.”
“I suddenly found myself one of only two or three lenders in a room filled with architects, general contractors, and realtors, as well as city government officials and legislators, and they had a lot of questions about how to finance accessory dwelling units, and I became the resource for that. As a result, I ended up speaking as the financing expert for a series of town halls, which put me on a stage in front of 60-100 local residents,” she said. “I didn’t join the task force so that I could get business, I joined it because I thought it was an interesting topic, and I wanted to expand my scope a little bit.”
Crosby is a “huge fan of events” and hosts her own Women’s Night a few times a year, where female clients and referral partners alike come together and engage socially for a few hours. She said that it’s always well-attended and appreciated, and the more women can connect with each other and support each other, the better for the industry as a whole.
“I think women need to support each other more, and it’s been a pleasure to have an ability to do some of that,” Crosby said.
When it comes to career lessons learned, Crosby’s most important lesson can be applied to just about any industry: be kind to everyone. Originators can come on very strong, and Crosby said that her eagerness and desire to help the client as a rookie sometimes caused her to expect too much of others. She eventually found that her colleagues and partners were some of the hardest working people out there, and she learned the importance of acknowledging that.
“It’s a fast-paced industry. It’s very demanding and it can be a bit cold and a bit harsh, so it’s really who we are and who we work with that gives us the strength and the spirit to move through the rough spots.”
Be kind, be diligent, and be present in the community. You can’t ask for more simple and more effective advice.