Top originator: From no gas in the tank, to closing 712 loans in a single year

From truck driver to top originator, mortgage professional shares all the hard work and sacrifices he made to build his business

Top originator: From no gas in the tank, to closing 712 loans in a single year

Aaron Chapman (pictured) wouldn’t have been the top originator that he is now without an empty gas tank, a handful of coins, and an incidental encounter with a friend that changed his life.

In the late 1990s, Chapman found himself at his lowest emotional and economic point, having just been laid off from his mining job in New Mexico. Yet, he was happy to return to his wife and his baby in Mesa, Ariz., confident that his killer resume would easily land him a job.

However, the self-assured applicant quickly changed to a panicked job seeker when the companies he applied to turned him down for having “too much” experience.

“Broken down and stressed about feeding and sheltering my little family, I drove up to a landscape materials company in south Phoenix to apply for a listed $10.00 per hour truck-driver position to haul landscape rock. The results were a single word I heard too often, ‘overqualified,’” Chapman shared. “Wiping away tears, I started up my truck and pointed to a grocery store. I had a coupon for free diapers I needed to use as my son was on his last couple diapers, and we had no funds to purchase them. Not far into my trip, then the gas light came on, warning me of my need to add fuel to the tank. I never went very far on the light before, so I was not sure how far I could travel with the gauge reading empty. Rolling up on a grocery store with a gas station in the same parking lot, I pulled up to a pump. Swiping my debit card, I waited a few moments to receive a decline.”

Chapman recalled scouring the parking lot for some loose change. After what felt like an eternity, he eventually picked up enough pennies to get gas, drive to the grocery store, and search for the diapers that corresponded with the coupon. As he was heading out to his truck, he ran into a colleague from his previous job. After learning about his struggles, that old friend introduced him to a branch manager of a mortgage broker.

“I had no idea what [mortgage] was. All I knew about this word ‘mortgage’ was in all the TV shows I watched where there was always someone losing their farm to something called a mortgage, so this had some very negative connotation for me. At this point, however, it didn’t matter. I was willing to do whatever I needed to,” Chapman said.

And he did. Chapman started as a telemarketer at the brokerage his friend was working for. But it was a steep learning curve with a lot of work for income that he had to wait for until the deal was closed. So, he had to get a second truck-driving job hauling freight back and forth from Sacramento to Vegas, with only three days off to work on his mortgage business. That lasted three excruciating months before he decided to quit both jobs and start up his own small mortgage crew.

His business grew in late 1998 when rates fell below 7%, and Chapman began generating a solid pipeline. He then dove into home lending full-time and now works as a residential mortgage lender at SecurityNational Mortgage Company. In 2019, he closed 712 loans and reached a total volume of $68,364,582, according to the Scotsman Guide. The 23-year mortgage veteran currently ranks 27th in the list of over 300,000 originators, in terms of most loan transactions closed annually. Chapman says his whopping 2019 volume wouldn’t have been possible without his amazing team of operations staff.

“With 23+ years, and closing as many transactions as we do each year, we are able to offer practical data where many of my clients have succeeded and have failed in their decisions,” he said. “When faced with a question from a client regarding a decision they must make in an area they are unfamiliar with, we can offer stories as to what we have seen others do in the same situation - where those others failed and where they succeeded, so our clients can make their own decisions based on practical data, not speculation, and, in theory, enhancing their potential success. I never give instructions. I just tell stories.”

Chapman’s vision for his future is clear. He can see himself telling more stories that would help dozens more people achieve their homeownership goals. He is also not afraid to go to great lengths to make the Aaron Chapman brand – a business he has bled to build over the years –the most widely recognized in the conventional real estate investment finance industry.

“It has been a wild roller coaster ride full of swings to extremes,” he said. “I have seen the best of things and the absolute worst of things over the last 23+ years in this industry, but I can’t help but look back on that day where I found myself at that lowest emotional and economic point; the day I picked up that handful of coins. Every person who walked out of that store and each quarter, dime, nickel, or penny dropped where I needed it to be that day. The time it took me to collect that precise stack of change, had it been a minute quicker or a minute longer, would I have bumped into my friend? The man directed to change my life? Hard to say. That branch manager back in 1998 told me in passing, ‘One day you will be in the top 1% of this industry’. I never forgot that. Such was achieved in 2017, and I don’t intend to leave that space.”