The mortgage industry isn’t stagnant, and originators shouldn’t be stagnant, either.
Ricardo Brasil has been anything but stagnant. Currently a senior loan officer at Guaranteed Rate, Brasil has worked with some of the biggest banks in the country, some of them more than once—Guaranteed Rate included. Whether it was moving for brand name and recognition, product offerings, creativity, or culture, Brasil always moved where he thought he could execute and deliver the best service that his referral partners had come to expect when working with him.
It got to a point where Brasil chose to split his team in two.
“Big banks were doing portfolio/jumbo lending extremely well, and their pricing was tough to beat. So I made a decision, and luckily, in hindsight, this decision was a good one because we surveyed the lending landscape from different purviews,” Brasil said. “We tried to divide and conquer where I would go work for a bank, do a lot of their jumbo-portfolio lending; [my brother] Roger would stay here and focus primarily on conforming lending with the rest of the team.”
Ultimately, though, Brasil saw that the future of the mortgage industry would require nimbleness and creativity, and he returned to his team at Guaranteed Rate in 2017. In 2018, brothers combined did close to $115 million in closed loans, a “pleasant surprise” during a year where many people thought mortgage rates would rise as the Fed continued to hike short term borrowing rates and the economy looked like it was facing some headwinds. The team’s goal for 2019 is to get to their previous high of $200 million, which they achieved in 2013.
Brasil’s team want to stick with what’s working but they’re also revisiting simple strategies, such as getting Brasil out of the office and dedicating more time to face-to-face meetings in the field. The connections created through social media and remote work can foster some entitlement, where originators feel they deserve business without devoting enough time to those partnerships.
“To either get more business from referral partners or get business from new referral partners, we’ve made a concerted effort to still market, still use social media, but try to be a little bit more present and do more broker open houses, maybe do seminars and go back to the basic foundational things that an originator would do when they’re newer.”
But originators can only get out of the office if they’re able to delegate and trust their in-office team. That’s the point where many originators hit a production ceiling and can’t figure out how to burst through it.
“You’ve got to figure out how to delegate because if you don’t delegate you can’t prospect, you can’t market, you can’t spend time doing the business building-type stuff,” Brasil said. “Introduce your team, make the client aware of the fact that you’re going to be speaking to other team members throughout the process, who are going to be helping me get you from locked to closing. Delegating became a huge part of being able to get to the next level of production. Luckily for me, I have Roger, my brother and business partner who knows his products/guidelines better than most underwriters, which allows me to get out of the office two to three days a week.”
While face time and delegation are evergreen, many other aspects of origination have changed over the past 17 years. Brasil still goes to broker open houses, for example, but not for the same reasons he did at the beginning—and he gets a bit of a different reception as well.
“The way I used to market 10-15 years ago is totally different than the way we market now. Honestly, I’ll do a broker open house just to post pictures and a video from the broker open, and I won’t even care if anyone shows up to eat a sandwich or a cookie. If five people come, great, but I’m going to get 500-1,000 views on my video,” Brasil said. “The marketing piece has really changed how we prospect, how we engage with clients and realtors a lot, so really embracing that has allowed us to position ourselves where we can get greater exposure and greater interest from the real estate community.”
A competitive market creates more separation between originators who simply do the job and those who are good at the job. This not only comes from knowing product guidelines, but also being able to interpret the information on an application and convey that to partners.
“Being able to say ‘yes, we’ll get you approved, no issues,’ or ‘we’re going to have to work on that and position you accordingly,’ or ‘you’re going to have to put more money down,’ that’s huge now. I think realtors, industry professionals, attorneys, they’re not going to give you much leeway to make mistakes in a competitive market like Boston.”
No one likes making mistakes, but they do provide opportunities to be a fixer, to recover quickly, and to learn. For better or for worse, originators get to clear the slate each month, to see what they did wrong and where they can grow moving forward. That, Brasil said, is one of the benefits of the profession.
“We embrace the fact that every month, the month starts new. You have to earn your living every month, you can’t really rest on your laurels. You have to stay sharp and engaged all the time.”
For strategies from top originators, come to Anaheim on April 4th for our Power Originating session featuring Shant Banosian, Ben Anderson, and Oleg Tkach.