Regardless of how you feel about bank vs. non-bank vs. independent broker vs. retail vs. online models, you have to agree that some lenders are changing the mortgage paradigm entirely. Better.com is one of those lenders, and three of their mortgage originators rose to the top of their field in 2018, closing more than $322 million with only six years of experience between them.
Some top producers would be top producers whatever channel they decided to enter. Elizabeth Root and Mike McGinniss, both loan consultants and sales managers, and Lauren Michael, licensed loan consultant, were all drawn to Better for different reasons. What they had in common was a knack for talking to people, gained through previous sales or service experience. The culture at Better intrigued them, and once they got in the door, it was all systems go.
“I think the teamwork here is really great. If someone’s busy, somebody else will jump in. That allows us all to make the most o our time, so I think that’s how all of us have gotten [to be top producers] at the same time with similar years of experience,” McGinniss said. “The thing that I really like to do is just be as responsive as possible, answering emails, texts, calls, as quickly as I can. I think borrowers really respond well when you give them an answer within 15-20 minutes, speaking to whatever their concerns are, whatever their goals are, giving them a clear explanation of what they are getting, what to expect, and being as transparent as possible.”
Conversations are at the heart of what they do, and Root says that the setup at Better allows originators to get to the heart of the matter more quickly, without wasting time on other aspects of the loan process.
“If I have their credit score in front of me, what that means is that I don’t have to ask that question,” Root said. “I can spend the same amount of phone with a client that a more experienced LO might spend, but I can really use that time harnessing the real valuable stuff.”
Because estimates and rate tables are available immediately when someone finishes an application, there’s no lag time between when a borrower first engages with the process and the time that they’re speaking with a loan consultant. Having these types of documents immediately available allows them to preempt questions the borrower might ask and they can use their time more wisely.
“We really can’t understate the advantage that the technology at Better has given us,” Michael said.
The benefit of a commission-only model is that originators are compensated for working as much or as little as they want, and the sky’s the limit. These originators, however, find value in Better’s non-commission model. Michael says this prevents loan consultants from getting territorial about borrowers, and frees everyone to help any borrower when they’re available.
The compensation model may also have something to do with how they learned the business of origination. Root, McGinniess, and Michael all started at Better without a license and worked as associates, which are more closely related to processing roles. They simultaneously worked on their licensing education and shadowed other loan consultants, who were also motivated to have the associates learn quickly.
When people find success early on, figuring out where to go next can be somewhat of a stumbling block. McGinniss, on the other hand, is constantly trying new approaches to find the best way to relay information to the borrower.
“I know a lot of people don’t have any mortgage knowledge, so while you can explain it to them, it might go over their head. If you break if down in a way that really resonates with them, they have that ‘aha’ moment and it clicks,” he said. “I’m just always trying different language when answering questions from borrowers, whether it’s email or over the phone, to find ways that speaks to them a little more on a personal level.”
Root is also trying to constantly solve for challenges, such as building trust in an environment where they’ll never meet their borrowers face-to-face. A lot of mortgage brokers and retail lenders can also relate to this, as more mortgage professionals turn to tools such as video calls and other ways to connect with borrowers who don’t want to or aren’t able to meet in person.
Even when constantly working to overcome challenges, these originators have quickly realized that not everyone they consult is going to get their mortgage at Better, and there are some people who simply aren’t able to do so at this point in time. They’ve learned that it’s not a waste of time to find what their goals are, and to give them advice on how to reach their goals. Very few people like the stereotypical pushy salesperson, and originators will automatically have a leg up if they can show potential clients that they have their best interests at heart.
“We really believe in this company and we really want to make sure our borrowers are educated and we’re willing to go that extra step to get there,” Michael said.
Who knows whether or not these rookie top producers would’ve had as much success had they landed with another lender, but at this point, that question is irrelevant. They’ve gotten better at Better and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.