How a dramatic pivot helped one company flourish in a down market

Adjustment arrived during market downturn and kept business coming in

How a dramatic pivot helped one company flourish in a down market

Amid the mortgage market’s slowdown last year, loan originators saw overall volume slide as would-be buyers stepped to the sidelines – but resourceful mortgage professionals still found a way to eke out business in trying times.

For Marty Medve (pictured), mortgage loan originator at Trident Home Loans, that process began with a pivot. The mortgage veteran adjusted the company’s business to an affordable solutions provider at the end of last summer when the market was gripped by surging rates and borrowing costs, a move he told Mortgage Professional America had proven a rewarding one.

The company opted to keep staff – trimming salaries with the promise that they would rise again – while others were cutting theirs, with Medve embarking on an aggressive marketing strategy (in his words, a more intensive campaign over a five-month period than he’d conducted during the previous 20 years combined) to highlight the lower rates Trident had to offer.

That approach helped generate a thriving pipeline at the beginning of the year – into the tens of millions of dollars, according to Medve – with the promise of an even greater uptick if the market gathers pace as expected in the months ahead.

“We kept everybody… and now that the market’s somewhat coming back, we’re positioned with a high-quality staff to handle the demand,” he told MPA this week. “It’s not really refinances – it’s purchases. There’s optimism in the market, and lower rates are returning.

“Our clients are out buying houses because they’re well-educated and we’ve created our own market because we’ve lowered our margins and pushed people to buy and take advantage of the lower prices and more availability.”

Shifting approach emerged as market cooldown continued

The change in business approach arrived with brokers at a crossroads as volume plunged, Medve said. In that market downturn, “you need to do one of two things: you lay off two-thirds of your staff and you suffer through it, or you fight for every loan and you have to market 10 times harder.”

After a comprehensive consultation period that involved discussions with around 400 of his own buyers, Medve decided the only option was to offer lower rates – a move that meant the company’s loan officers saw their margins get pushed downwards, but volume begin to climb again.

The marketing campaign and advertising blitz to complement that change and bring industry partners on board was an extensive one.

“We came up with a lot of strategies to help realtors,” Medve said. “We brought in tons and tons of realtors into the office and trained them. We did a lot of marketing on forums and different magazine and TV commercials. When everybody else was going one direction, we were going the other.”

Buyers gravitated towards those lower rates on offer – and the company’s solution to the down market proved a fruitful one, helping it turn a profit in January and remain highly competitive throughout the typically subdued winter period.

Retaining staff, Medve said, was also a core consideration. “I basically had the strategy of saying, ‘Well, my staff is going to be dormant, my loan officers are going to go and they’re not going to other jobs because there’s no loan volume.’ I couldn’t do that. I had to protect the company, the salaries,” he said.

“So I went after loans, and I created programs and marketed and projected through my buyers what we offered – and we were highly successful in doing so… It teaches you to be aggressive as opposed to being timid in the down market. We’re doing really well.”

Market could gather pace in year ahead

As for the 2024 outlook? The market is long overdue a resurgence, according to Medve, with the onset of Federal Reserve rate cuts – currently slated for some point towards the middle of the year – set to herald a new jump in homebuying intentions.

“You’re going to see [rates] drop and all of a sudden we’re going to see volume go from 280 loan applications to 600, 700, 800 in a month because the market returns, the season returns, rates will drop and refinances will return,” he said. “So we’re going to double. We’re doing it now – because all the things that we put into effect in October are working.”

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