Top Originator: Matt Garcia grew with the right people

by Kimberly Greene15 Aug 2019

Matt Garcia didn’t get into the mortgage industry because he was good at sales.

In fact, Garcia “despises” sales for some things, even though he relied on his natural sales skills to put him through college. Even now, as a senior loan officer with Supreme Lending, he doesn’t think his job as being about sales, and he doesn’t think other loan officers should focus on that, either.

“The biggest thing that loan officers worry about is selling. Stop worrying about selling. Learn your craft first. If it takes two or three years to learn your craft, do it, because guess what? Your longevity in this business is going to be far more, because eventually you’re going to come against a guy like me who’s going to pick you apart and then show you for the fraud that you are.”

Strong words to be sure, but Garcia has a fighting spirit. He’s got a strong sense of conviction about who he is, what he’s about, and how he’s grown his mortgage business. Anyone who primarily chases money, units, or volume, he says, will ultimately have a more limited career than someone who is working for more altruistic reasons.

Garcia’s business is almost entirely focused on realtor partnerships. The bulk of Garcia’s business comes from about 10 different realtors, most of whom have been partners for almost a decade and are very big advocates of his who eagerly sends others his way—borrowers and other big real estate producers alike. After that, Garcia says, his body of work speaks for itself.

“That’s been the nice part about it . . . we make them more efficient and we make them better. They become the right partnerships. A lot of loan officers make the mistake of trying to acquire as many realtors as possible; we look for the realtors that are the right fit. And if they’re the right fit, it expands our business more and more and their business more and more because it’s a dynamic that works.”

Garcia’s path differs from many other top producers. When Garcia was first offered a sales job at a bank, he declined, insisting that he learn the business from the ground up. He knew that in order to be good on the front end, he had to be good on the back end, and because of that, he began his career as a processor, closer, and underwriter. He excelled at fixing files that other loan officers didn’t do properly, gradually rising through operations before switching tracks to become a loan officer assistant for a top producer.

Garcia was happy to be the “guy behind the curtain,” fixing problems and managing the pipeline. But as he watched how the top producer and others ran their business, he began to internalize some of their practices and learned to avoid strategies that didn’t pan out.

He went out on his own in 2012, with a mission to develop business more organically rather than chase big fish. He began associating with people who were all at similar stages in their business as he was, and who were willing to fight for each other and for their mutual businesses. As those businesses have all grown, he’s had to sacrifice some of the time spent with his core partners, who he came to think of as family. The beauty of growing together is that they’ve all get to see each other get bigger, but as they’ve all gotten bigger, there’s less of that time to spend with each other; it’s the price of success, he said.

In 2018, Garcia closed more than $94 million, which he attributes to his operations background and his operations team, who are all in the fight with him for each and every loan.

“That’s the secret, it’s the operations. I can’t do what I do without those folks that are willing to be on the front lines,” he said. “That’s always that secret sauce that people take for granted.”

People are the heart of Garcia’s business: his team, his partners, and his borrowers. Garcia is able to hone in on the parts of the process that are most important to his borrowers, and explaining things from that perspective leads to satisfied clients. He doesn’t use video marketing, he doesn’t do video conferencing, he’s not a social media fiend. In fact, his marketing strategy is not marketing at all.

“I don’t market. My marketing is my interaction with clients or my realtors. I don’t send out flyers, I don’t do a bunch of online videos, things like that . . . it’s simply the time you take with people,” Garcia said. “Most loan officers feel like they have to sell something. No, you’ve just got to make them trust you. You make them trust you, that’s over half your battle. But we live in a time where you see these young loan officers think it’s got to be flashy. No, it’s just got to be simple.”

Likewise, when people ask him what books he’s reading or what podcasts are on his playlist or who serves as his inspiration, he doesn’t have an answer, because he doesn’t think about any of that. All he does is study his guidelines, and any success he has is because he knows those guidelines inside and out.

Most lenders and originators are more concerned about getting the next deal than they are about doing their current deals to the best of their ability. But business doesn’t improve overnight. It takes observation, interpretation, and humility, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that something isn’t working. Patience is more than a virtue in origination. It’s a requirement.

“Don’t come in here trying to make money. Come in here trying to change lives, trying to make differences, that is the key,” he said.