Top Originator: Debbie Maggert’s high engagement approach

by Kimberly Greene18 Sep 2019

Debbie Maggert has working 12-hour days, five days a week, for five a half months. She’s exhausted, but her efforts have put her on track to increase her production from $82 million in 2018 to $110 million this year.

Her relentlessness this year is paying off in spades, but it’s really the only way she knows how to run her mortgage business.

“Probably my biggest thing that I do is, I'm very involved in the community,” Maggert says. “I do everything; I don't even know how I do it anymore.”

If you can think of a community event, Maggert has been there: donating time and money to charitable causes; quarterly lunch and learns; attending weekly office meetings at the top three real estate officers in her area; delivering breakfasts; hosting happy hours; chili cook-offs; motorcycle rallies; realtor give-backs; and yes, good old fashioned pop-bys.

Maggert serves the Lake Tahoe area: Cason City, which which has around 100,000 people, Minden and Gardnerville, which have around 9,000 people each, and Lake Tahoe itself, which has around 60,000 residents year-round. Lest anyone thing that her $110 million expected 2019 volume is due to some fancy Lake Tahoe vacation homes, she clarifies that her average loan size is $300,000. Her business comes from a regular schedule of in-person actives and events in each of these communities, which has paid off over time.

Although events are often winners for originators, regardless of their location, Maggert says that her market affords some advantages that other markets don’t.

“Here's the difference—if I was in a big city, I would not have the same success that I'm enjoying by living in a small community . . . I have those small markets all around me, and it's truly the deep relationships that I've created with the realtors, the business partners, [and] customers,” Maggert said. “It's really just being very, very involved in my entire country for a lot of years.”

The refi market is obviously strong, but Maggert’s refi/purchase split is still only 22%/78%. She’s always been purchase-heavy, attributes her boost in business to landing a couple more “whales”; big clients who have sent her business. She’s also picking up two builder clients, and as those are just getting out of the gate now, she expects the dividends from those relationships will pay off into next year.

Everyone knows that real estate and mortgage is a cyclical business, and Maggert says that it serves her particularly well. Right now, for example, her business in Carson City is slowing down because summer is over, people are going back to school and aren’t actively looking to purchase homes. She hired a loan officer there to run business so they’re not competing for business or agents in that area. Things are picking up, however, in other areas of her market.

“My business is very balanced because I have Lake Tahoe, which is just a second home community,” Maggert said. “In Tahoe they come in the summer and they buy in the fall, they come in the winter and they buy in the spring. So the shoulder seasons when I have less business down in the valley, I pick it up in Tahoe by having that second home market.”

Not all originators can replicate that geographic balance. Other things, however, are much more doable.

“I can't get out enough,” she said. “I'm one of those weird people that, when it's slow in the winter, I'm pounding the streets. I'm calling, calling, calling, talking to people, [having] more lunches, more dinners, more happy hours, more time with them.”

As Maggert has gotten busier, she and her team have still been able to maintain high levels of in-person communication with people; she says that nearly half of her business is done face to face. If you can get clients in your office and personally interact with them, there’s a stronger possibility of retaining them as a client, Maggert says. Once they know you, they stay with you for the long haul.

The same goes for employees. Apart from a couple of new hires that have come on board within the past couple of years, Maggert is “really blessed” that many of her team have been with her for more than a decade. She’s found that non-monetary rewards matter as well, and has monthly happy hours, quarterly events, and team getaways (the most recent was a ski trip).

“It’s not all me, let me tell you. I have a really amazing team. So when you have a great team behind you, that wants to work for you and comes in at six o'clock in the morning and runs in on the weekend and helps . . . they just they work really hard,” Maggert said.

Being relentless, however, does has its downsides. One, she says, is that she’s not in balance right now. Her current pace of business isn’t ideal, but she does have a supportive partner who gets involved in various aspects of her outreach efforts, from cooking breakfasts to attending networking events. Her daughter is much more involved, and will take over the business once Maggert retires in less than two years. She’ll still work community events, she’ll still help with relationships, she just won’t do the nitty gritty business of putting together loans.

Maggert has come a long way from selling real estate, then being a Wells Fargo branch manager, then moving to a small community bank and working her way up from being a switchboard operator, through operations into management, all without a college degree. She did the CORE training for a decade, and eventually brought that to Guild Mortgage, where they used it as the inspiration for Guild University, to coach and train all of their loan officers. Coaching, delegation, and event management, have been the keys to Maggert’s business, along with one other thing.

“Never being satisfied with what you have. You're always growing, always looking, one realtor might run away and you need anyone to replace it,” Maggert said.