Broker gives his take on where there are massive possibilities
At a time when it is common to close loans in 45 days, Joe Garza (pictured) can get his clients approved for a mortgage in as fast as one day. Consider it a superpower. His ability to obtain a clear to close on the same day has earned him several recognitions from United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), including as a top 1% producer. Another member of his team also received an award for digital marketing.
The Arizona-based mortgage professional is the owner of Olympus Home Loans. Over the past four years, Garza has successfully grown from a one-man shop to seven employees, and together they closed over $35 million in 2020.
So, how did he manage such speedy turn times and growth? The simple answer is digitization.
"Technology in this industry is the biggest missed opportunity for most mortgage companies – of all sizes. If a day in the office still involves stacking files, searching for lost paperwork, repetitive tasks and tons of phone calls, that company has fallen behind,” Garza said. “Working through the pandemic without the convenience of having our team and clients all in one place reiterated the importance of real-time, remote collaboration. Digitization is critical for mortgage brokerages to scale efficiently.”
During the rollercoaster past year, Garza shared that his team had to adapt quickly to new ways of working and doing business, which took a lot of energy and focus. To add to the stress of these changes, he also had to consider the emotional impact of the pandemic on his team. So, he looked at all possible options for increased efficiency for his company and customers, and what he found was digital home closings. But even before the COVID-19 lockdowns, Olympus had already been using a virtual real estate closing platform, JetClosing, to complete transactions – an innovation that Garza claims sets them apart from old-fashioned brokerages.
“I started working with JetClosing long before the pandemic hit and always appreciated their team’s ability to accommodate our 17-day average turn times with some of our wholesale lenders. JetClosing played a key role in modernizing our internal processes, which is what enabled my team and me to respond quickly to the pandemic, keep closing loans quickly and help a lot more people in less time,” he said. “Even with increased demand for refinance and resale orders in response to low-interest rates, we relied on JetClosing to automate much of the administration work associated with the lending process, so we were able to focus on more high-value tasks for our customers.”
When he’s not jumping on another opportunity to learn about new tech partners and networks, Garza is building relationships with local realtors, industry groups like the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME), and title companies.
“This year, and going forward, we feel like we are ready to conquer any challenges the world throws at us,” he said. “We expect to see a slowdown in refinance orders and an increase in home sales. To stay ahead of the ever-changing market and dynamic industry, we are invested in building strong relationships with realtors and real estate companies. As we head into peak homebuying season, realtors are going to be extremely important partners for us this year.”
Another strategy that’s top-of-mind for Garza is figuring out how they can better qualify customers for loans beyond the standard risk assessment. Given the tumultuous year, he admitted that there are many variables to consider. Still, Garza said that they would continue to be extremely diligent in qualifying people in a way that allows them to maintain partners’ and clients’ earned trust.
For most of the day, Garza is dialling into every aspect of his company to make sure they are consistently offering competitive and stable turn times. Once he’s sure operations are going smoothly, Garza then spends the rest of his day building relationships with his employees and customers to ensure everyone is happy and feels supported.
“To everyone that is in this industry, make sure you are doing it for reasons that drive you. You will be surprised by the ‘crazy ideas’’ that work. Try them out. Believe that you can do it, all while having a support system,” Garza said. “If you decide to take this path, do the research and be prepared for the challenges that come with it. The challenges may seem insurmountable at times, but the reward of seeing your hard work and your people succeed is a feeling unlike any that I have experienced so far.”