Mike Fagan is one of the go-to guys for mortgage origination. He’s been in the industry for over 30 years and spent 25 of them at PHH Loans before it was acquired by Guaranteed Rate Affinity, where he currently serves as vice president of mortgage lending.
Fagan admits that for a long time, he was very much a transaction-oriented originator. But in recent years, he’s changed his mind set and refocused on building deeper and better relationships with referral partners and clients. While he’s always worked hard, Fagan says he works a lot smarter now and the job has actually become more enjoyable. He credits the culture and expectations at Guaranteed Rate Affinity and the vision of founder and CEO Victor Ciardelli to his change in attitude.
“[Ciardelli] knows what it’s like at street level. He’s not preaching to you from an ivory tower about how to run your business. He could walk out tomorrow and originate; I’ve never had a leader of a company that I could say that about,” said Fagan.
At the start of his career, it wasn’t an easy road. Even though he was well-trained, cold calls and networking events were a challenge. Being a bit more on the introverted side, he spent a lot of time forcing himself out of his comfort zone.
“Anyone in this business has to continuously examine how they work, what tools and resources are available and the results they are achieving,” he said. “You have to be willing to learn and adapt. Overcoming your fears is possible with a strong mindset and confidence.”
In 2019, Fagan closed over $103 million in volume, quite a jump from $61 million in 2018. Part of the increase in volume was market driven, as low interest rates have created a surge in opportunity, but he says there is something to be said about his renewed focus on relationships and having a positive outlook. Pushing himself out of his comfort zone is what has propelled Fagan to new heights over the past few years and continues to aid his success especially through the current environment considering the coronavirus pandemic. With the turmoil in the mortgage market and the quick move by businesses to transition to work from home, he says this crisis was certainly a good exercise in how to deal with change.
“This pandemic has caused a major shift and will change how we do business for good. We are in this together, not just as a company, but as an industry. It’s just another example of rolling with the punches and figuring it out.”
Even as a veteran in the business, he continues to grow and learn. Fagan just completed his first entirely virtual purchase closing, which he expects is only going to become more common. Guaranteed Rate Affinity has also been helping their originators stay connected with referral partners by hosting virtual networking events, including a live comedy show and a virtual lunch and learn where food was delivered to participant’s homes.
“As you get older and a little wiser in the industry, you begin to notice changes and trends; you're either going to be stubborn and get left behind or you're going to have to adapt,” he said. “We are making it fun to stay connected with our referral partners rather than just talking about our latest program or what the rates are.”
While the mortgage industry is lucky to still be busy during the pandemic, Fagan warns that rainy days are coming; it may not be soon, but it’s best for originators to prepare and be smart. Originators are doing better than ever, he said, and there’s no better time than now to work towards helping as many people as possible.
“We are in the business of helping people and these interest rates give us an opportunity to reach out to our past clients and help. Everybody's living in this world of uncertainty and we're looked upon as leaders in our communities that can help people through this.”