Top Originator: Mindy Ashdown works hard for the money

by Kimberly Greene24 Oct 2019

If there’s one thing Mindy Ashdown knows, it’s builder business. It makes up about 85% of her business—far more than any realtor referrals—and that’s by design.

“That is a exactly what I wanted because that’s such a big deal out here in Utah, there’s tons of building,” Ashdown said. “Builders are much more loyal and so they incentive your buyers to use you, so that’s helped [my business] dramatically.”

Because the builders funnel business directly to Ashdown, she doesn’t really do any outreach to borrowers at all to promote her business. All of Ashdown’s marketing efforts and those of her team are for the benefit of the builders. That means being on hand for a number of events and helping out as required.

Everyone is after ultimate satisfaction for the borrower, but Ashdown serves her builders in a slightly different way than her realtor partners. Her team keeps builders in the loop on housing statistics and rates, but they’re ultimately guaranteeing the builders that her team will close the loan if they preapprove the buyer. For a builder, that’s big.

“They’re fronting all of their money for these projects, and they want to make sure the buyers are legit, so that’s what we’re doing,” Ashdown said. “We’ve had a couple that we’ve had to eat that ended up not working, but because of that, we’ve shown them that we follow through with what we say.”

With only three people on Ashdown’s team (herself, an assistant, and a processor) along with a VP of production, Ashdown is no stranger to hustling to get loans done, although her system was disrupted last year when she moved from Academy Mortgage to SecurityNational Mortgage Company. Moving companies is almost always a disruption, and Ashdown, who closed nearly $113 million in 2018 expects a slight drop in business, on track to close $103 million this year. 

SecurityNational works to lend money for land acquisition and development, which helps Ashdown’s builders acquire more property. It’s a big move from Academy Mortgage, which Ashdown loved, and although she says its been hard to get a feel for everything. Next year, she says, the plan is to hire a new underwriter, bring another builder on board, and incorporate some of her previous systems into the new company. This, Ashdown said, will get the team back to operating like a well-oiled machine, with a plan to close at least $113 million, if not $120 million in 2020.

Ashdown started out with a temporary assignment as a receptionist at First Nationwide Mortgage in California. When the term ended, she was hired as a floater, which means that when someone was out of the office for whatever reason, she stepped into their place. After spending time in every department from foreclosures to collections to payments, she was hooked and decided to pursue a mortgage career. Originally she was “to much of a scaredy-cat” to try her hand at origination, but she gave it a shot after some encouragement from her boss. Ashdown’s boss gave her a raise with the caveat that as soon as she decided to go commission-only, there was no going back. At the end of her first month, Ashdown saw the difference between her commission and her salaried pay and made the switch without a second thought.

Working with builders means that Ashdown automatically gets preapprovals, but she recognizes that she doesn’t automatically get to keep them. The easy part is the builder relationship and keeping up to date on production, she says, because the builders help the team stay on top of the preapproved borrowers who are coming up on completion. Once that takes place, Ashdown reaches out to every single one of them, regardless of whether or not they’re using her.

“We do all the preapprovals, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay with us,” Ashdown says.

“Calling the buyers and [ensuring] they use us, I feel like that’s the hard part, because everything is so competitive, and I’m trying to get buyers to understand that all these online companies, they sound great, but you don’t get that customer service that you’re going to get when you use us. So when you use us, we’re going to hold your hand through the whole process, but not even just that, but we’re here forever.”

It’s not just about closing the loan, it’s about keeping in contact with borrowers and keeping them happy throughout the process. This goes for the easy loans as well; Ashdown says that most of her borrowers fit into the conventional lending box, but she still has to connect with them periodically so they don’t feel forgotten.

Even at $113 million, there’s always room for improvement. Ashdown’s goal is to brush up her knowledge of different loan programs that she can broker out, because even though they don’t come across her desk often, they do happen, and new loan programs are popping up out of the woodwork.

“It’s hard to keep up with all of that when you have all these other buyers. Sometimes it’s overwhelming . . . but at the same time, I would love to know those [even if] it only helps you grab one extra a month, and that’s a big deal. I don’t want to lose any.”

Anything you want, you have to work for it. Ashdown doesn’t like rejection, and as a self-proclaimed sensitive person, it’s been tough to push through rejections year in and year out. But she continues to pick up the phone, make connections, and work for her business. That’s what got her past $100 million, and that same strategy will follow her to the next level.