Before mortgages, Jason Smith was an air traffic controller in the Navy, which meant understanding and interpreting a lot of complicated guidelines was nothing new to him. When he was offered his first job in mortgage in 2004, he understood almost immediately the importance of knowing guidelines, finding loopholes and making them work for each individual client.
This dedication to guideline knowledge and his continued drive to be of service is what led him to become a top originator in the country, closing more than $91 million in volume last year.
“I’m here every weekend following up with clients and catching up on guideline changes,” said Smith, vice president and branch manager at Nova Home Loans. “I’ve read every agency guideline book three or four times, because knowing them inside out opens doors.”
His time in the military was just the beginning of his call to service. For Smith, it’s more than just a job; it’s about making a difference in people’s lives and doing the right thing to help people become homeowners or make their mortgage more affordable.
“About 30% of our loans had previously been turned down by other lenders. We take the extra time and knowledge to make it work, so we can make generational differences in people’s lives. That’s where my success comes from and money just follows when your heart is in the right place,” said Smith.
His Navy experience also taught him the importance of structure, repetition and the fact that small wins add up to great success. The organizational skills he gained plays a big role in how he runs his branch and trains his team.
Smith manages a team of eight with his business partner Kyle Pursley. That team includes five additional loan officers and one administrative assistant. They’ve just recently added a new loan officer to their team, as the business continues to grow. When recruiting, Smith looks for people that don’t give up in the face of adversity.
“In our industry, there are always unplanned hurdles. A seamless process requires attention to detail, and you need to be comfortable with interacting with different personalities on a daily basis,” he said.
Misinformation throughout the industry is also a big hurdle that Smith is looking to tackle through his social media network. A few years ago, he started noticing other originators gaining clout and establishing themselves as industry experts without the experience and knowledge to back it up. As someone who prides himself on industry knowledge, he got some social media coaching, and decided to start putting himself out there to help people get the right information.
On his YouTube channel, Smith does a series called Mortgage Masters Busting Mortgage Myths with his business partner, where they discuss common myths that they’ve encountered.
“A lot of news travels through the grapevine in this industry, from one loan officer to another, to a manager to an underwriter, all because no one took the time to research the guideline. That gets passed along to a real estate agent and ends up being told to a client.”
Smith says some guidelines are open to interpretation, which leads to a lot of incorrect information out there. With VA loans making up about 30% of his business, Smith says he often ends up being the go-to expert within his company for information.
Social media also play a part in Smith’s relationship and trust building with referral partners and clients. Providing real, relatable content helps foster connectivity before even meeting, he explained.
Smith’s goal this year is to continue to grow and scale with the ultimate goal of becoming the number one loan originator in his company, and across the country.
“I don’t stop until I achieve my goals. I am working toward those with continued focus, doubling down on social media marketing and simply going after more business.”