Former NFL player turns into successful mortgage loan officer

Originator offers invaluable tips for new loan officers

Former NFL player turns into successful mortgage loan officer

The mortgage industry is known for its challenges - and for new originators entering the field, it can be a daunting journey.

Tony Umholtz (pictured), a top-performing loan officer at First Horizon Mortgage, initially pursued a career in pro football, enjoying spells at the Tennessee Titans, New York Giants and New England Patriots. However, when he got released, Umholtz found himself working in the mortgage industry while waiting for his next football opportunity. As fate would have it, he excelled in the field and decided to make it his long-term career. 

However, Umholtz’s entry into mortgage was not without its challenges. He acknowledged that the business has a tremendous barrier for new originators.

“It’s hard to build the business up. It’s very hard to enter, and in my opinion, I don’t see a lot of younger originators,” he told MPA. “I’m not seeing as many - there are some good ones, but not as many. I go to some events, and I feel like I’m one of the young ones, and I’ve been in this a while.”

“For those willing to take on the challenge, grit and determination are paramount,” Umholtz said. “I know those are big, broad statements, but you’re going to have to do the work to get the business, and it’s going to take time.” 

New loan officers will face closed doors and rejection, but Umholtz stressed the need to persevere. 

“You’re going to get doors shut on you. It’s going to take people saying ‘no’, and you’ve got to be OK with that,” he said. “If you’re OK with being uncomfortable, it’ll get you in a groove, and you’ll start finding the people and sources that can send you business.”

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He also emphasized the significance of meaningful relationships in the mortgage industry. 

“Meaningful relationships are what makes this business fun,” he continued. “Helping people build those relationships is what makes it fun and it can be financially rewarding. If you focus on relationships and helping others, the money will come.”

Umholtz has built a reliable group of professionals to support his operations. “My team consists of three assistants who handle preapprovals for me,” he shared. “They help with incoming business from my sources and past clients, ensuring a smooth process.”

He maintains a stellar underwriting team and follows the golden rule - treating customers the way he would want to be treated. Umholtz believes this approach has contributed significantly to his business growth and success.

“Providing weekly updates to customers is important to me,” he said. “Just how I’d want to be treated. Simple as that.”

Diversity in sources of business is another key aspect of Umholtz’s strategy. He enjoys being a jack of all trades, allowing him to adapt to the industry’s cyclical nature. His referrals come from various channels, including financial planners, realtors, builders, and past clients.

“Even clients who have recently gone through the process with us, we follow up and ask for referrals,” Umholtz said. “It works wonders, generating around five loans per month, just from that simple ask.”

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