Top Originator: Joe Parisi is as gritty as they come

by Kimberly Greene09 Apr 2019

Joe Parisi may have been in the mortgage industry for 30 years, but don’t call him a relic.

He’s not some Luddite, reluctant to take the digital pathways that have propelled the mortgage industry into the 21st century. In fact, sometimes he’s gone too far the other way, assuming clients want to go the digital route when they want a more analog approach. He’s a pro at trying, tweaking, and trying again.

“It’s a numbers game, and you’ve got to have that what they call grit to just understand that you’re going to get a lot of rejections, and you can’t take it personally. You’ve got to move on to the next one and just keep plugging away, because it’s a tough business,” he said.

Parisi, a vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate, wasn’t always so confident in himself. His early challenges were less about the loan process itself and more about not having the confidence in that knowledge, and being comfortable enough to approach a realtor. Parisi said that was probably 10 years before he had the level of expertise to know that every deal he brought in would close, and to be truly confident when initiating a relationship with a potential partner.

He remembers even being hesitant to attend broker opens and meet realtors there.

“Now, I actually enjoy it, I think it’s fun. I tell them: ‘I’m out on the streets, I’ve been doing this 30 years, but I’m still grinding, and I want your business.’ It’s that confidence.”

In spite of being in the business for so long, Parisi only had one assistant up until about five years ago. He got to $100 million in funded volume but it wasn’t sustainable and, he said, it wasn’t healthy.

“I think I would’ve probably gone nuts and been put in the asylum or had a heart attack. I was doing $100 million, and calling out my own loan approvals condition to the client. It was crazy. And so then I knew I had to make some kind of change for my health.”

So five years ago, he brought his son into the fold, followed by his son-in-law and his daughter. Working with a new generation of family has provided an additional motivation for Parisi to establish a core business that his family can assume when he eventually decides to take a back seat. Creating a heartier team has made him more efficient and given him the freedom to do more prospecting. He’s also utilizing more technology on the back end, with features such as automated asset verification for clients to use if they wish.

In 2018, Parisi funded $70 million in total volume, and while he wasn’t exactly happy with it, he was somewhat satisfied, given the circumstances. This year, he wants to get back to $100 million, and with the team he has in place, favorable rates, and his outreach efforts, he thinks it’s a very attainable goal.

Mortgage professionals are increasingly taping into their existing client databases as rich sources of leads, but Parisi has also found value in taking a closer look at his referral partner database. Life events happen for realtors and other referral partners as well as borrowers, and there are always new people getting into their respective professions.

“Probably 90% of my business is realtor referred, but that database of realtors I have is constantly changing,” Parisi said. “I’m not going to get business from the same people year after year because people die, they move out of state, they get out of the business. So the focus is really on the prosecuting now, because I think I made that mistake earlier in my career where I would prospect but not do the follow up that you have to do.”

The people who originate for the long haul are able to model their business on what the environment demands. Over the course of the past year, Parisi did some “soul searching” and realized that even with all of the changes in the industry, the mortgage business is a people-person business, and that’s where people find the most success. Being out in the field may not be as efficient as the technology part, Parisi said, but combing both is where the magic happens.

“I got to a point where I was totally relying on technology and sitting at my desk and doing good, taking loan apps and making money, but it gets to a point where you get stale in the volume. I had consistent volume for five years in a row and decided, to make that next step up, I need to get back out on the streets, which is what I’ve been doing. I grind,” Parisi said. “It’s funny because there are realtors I’ve worked with for 20 years, and I go out to their broker opens and their meetings, and they say, ‘what are you doing out? I didn’t think you came out!’ I say, ‘I’ve got to get business just like you guys do, out on the street.’”