It’s all about who you know.
Michael Murgatroy, a branch manager with Guaranteed Rate in Florida, started in the industry more than 20 years ago when a friend’s dad asked him what he was doing after college graduation. Murgatroy double majored in finance and real estate and was looking for something that combined the two; his friend’s dad was a realtor and put him on the path to his first job at a mortgage brokerage.
“That was like getting a master’s degree, because I learned everything: how to truly originate, how to really structure loans . . . it’s all back to that basics now. I was doing the same model back then that I’m doing now, where I could do banking or broker, that’s why Guaranteed Rate’s a pretty amazing model, because we can do both.”
His style hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years, although his business has naturally evolved as he’s encountered new opportunities. When industry reforms took place in 2009-2010, for example, he had been working with leads and developing clients all over the country. In order to continue serving those clients, he got multiple licenses and is now licensed in 43 states.
Murgatroy also didn’t change much of anything since last year, when he and his six-person team closed more than $95 million. The expectation is to surpass that this year, and in spite of being off to a bit of a slow start, business has picked up “big time.” Even so, Murgatroy said there’s more to business than what’s on paper.
“It’s not just numbers; you connect with the right people and it’ll happen,” he said. “I don’t pinpoint a number. I don’t like saying, “Hey, let’s do 200 million.” You have to have goals of Why, so kind of working backwards. If everyone on the team has their goals of why we should get there, that’s a better way.”
Working backward is a technique he uses with his borrowers. Instead of telling a potential borrower how much mortgage they qualify for, he first reviews their budget, their credit, their income, their assets, and isolates what number they should be targeting. People want the big number upfront even though it’s not always in their best interest.
“A lot of originators do this wrong, I think. They try to tell [clients] how much the maximum is and, obviously, look what happened years ago,” Murgatroy said. “I always stop them when they ask me how much can they qualify for and I just break down the basics, and it’s usually a quick call to do that. So if you can ask the right questions and narrow it down quickly, then you’re really helping them do the right thing.”
With more than 20 years of experience, a majority of his business comes from past clients, followed by a mix of financial planners, CPAs, realtors, employee benefit programs, and the push that he’s made toward online reviews so that people are able to find him online more easily.
Even though Murgatroy is a top producer, he’s human, and he takes some things for granted. One of those things is the experience and knowledge that comes along with helping “hundreds of thousands of people” over his years in the business, and facing so many different scenarios. And while he doesn’t take the technology and the program offerings at Guaranteed Rate for granted, he acknowledges that a lot of the marketing piece of his business happens in the background. As a result, he doesn’t spend much time on marketing at all, including social media outreach.
Instead, he spends time leveraging his contacts, and making sure that his team is focused on doing business right instead of just doing more of it.
“Don’t get me wrong, there’s people that do really well and they make triple, four times what we make, but I just don’t like that approach. That was something that I figured out really early in [my] career; I always wanted to know what you had to make to do okay, and we’ve always worked on thin margins and things like that to do what’s best by the customer and not steer them to a program that makes the most money for the company and the originator.”
In addition to keeping an eye on the Why, Murgatroy says that continual education and networking are the things that keep any originator at the top of the mortgage ladder.
It’s clearly working for him.