Top Originator Spotlight: Billi West of MiMortgage

From car financing to mortgage lending, industry veteran talks memorable deals and advice for originators

Top Originator Spotlight: Billi West of MiMortgage

Billi West (pictured) didn't plan on becoming a mortgage professional, but sometimes life takes unexpected turns.

Over 20 years ago, while pregnant with her second child, she left her job in the car industry to find something with more flexible hours. A call to her previous employer, a credit union, led to a new career as a mortgage loan originator. Since then, Billi has built her own mortgage company, MiMortgage (a division of Network Funding), and grown a successful team.

In this Q&A, she shares insights on engaging clients, leveraging technology, and building a balanced life. But what does she think is the biggest challenge for the next generation of mortgage professionals? Read on to find out.

Mortgage Professional America: Can you give me an idea of how, when, and why you started the mortgage business?

Billi West: I got into the business over 20 years ago by luck when I was pregnant with my second son. I worked in the car business as a finance director and decided I could no longer work six days a week, until midnight on many nights, as a mom-to-be of two under the age of five. I called my local credit union, where I had previously worked, and they hired me back immediately as a mortgage loan originator. I worked there for many years until I decided it was time to take off on my own, later purchasing a mortgage company and growing a team. The rest is history.

MPA: How do you engage with and empower clients during the homebuying process?

BW: We have several touch points throughout the homebuying process to keep them informed and engaged. We find that there are fewer surprises, or misunderstandings, the more you engage your borrowers, especially those first-time homebuyers. Just because my staff and I are pros at getting a loan closed, we want to be sure our borrowers are as equally informed throughout the whole homebuying process, which means from the application until they get to the closing table!

MPA: What is the most memorable deal you've ever done?

BW: There are too many memorable deals to name just one. Even though I like the easy deals, the most satisfying ones are the ones that you really have to work for. They may take longer, but seeing your borrowers with the keys to something they didn't think was possible is an amazing feeling. I keep up with all the different programs and guidelines, just so I'm ready when that one-off may come along.

MPA: How has technology impacted your business recently?

BW: Obviously, technology brings efficiencies into the homebuying process, which saves time. We have a great online application that has the capability of approving an applicant on the spot. I do have to balance that with my borrowers that do not want to go online and do it themselves, though. I love those efficiencies; however, my borrower's preferences are more important to me. I am finding that more and more borrowers are wanting to do the online application, though.

MPA: What energizes you about doing mortgages?

BW: I do like the fact that, at times, it does allow for a flexible schedule. And quite honestly, you get out of it what you put into it. However, the thing that energizes me the most is the fact that I am helping people make life-changing purchases and build wealth through home ownership!

MPA: Share something about yourself that you're working on improving and how you think your business will be better/more productive/run more smoothly once you've accomplished your goal.

BW: My personal goals have always included a good work/life balance and learning that it's okay to take time off. Everyone needs to break away from their jobs, take time off, and enjoy life! What is that old saying? We work to live, not live to work. Sometimes I struggle with that, but I do find that when my work and personal life are in balance, everything just seems to run smoother.

MPA: Can you give me any quantification of your success in the past year and your target loan volume this year?

BW: 2022 was a tough year for everyone. I actually did good, considering--and made our annual Presidents Club trip where they honor the top producers. With that being said, though, I am focusing on building the new loan officers in my branch. Yes, I plan to increase my volume and make Presidents Club again, but I really want to impart my knowledge and expertise and help the loan officers we recently brought on grow. That is also very rewarding.

MPA: What advice would you have for any originator who is either starting out in the business or who has been in the business for a long time and is having difficulty boosting their production?

BW: Put yourself out there. The worst they can say is no. Learn how to look up guidelines. Knowledge is power. You will not regret this. Just keep going! This industry has its highs and lows, but the rewards are so worth it. You will get out of it what you put into it. Sometimes it comes a little slower, but it will come.

MPA: What advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

BW: Don't get that haircut you are going to get in the next year. It's not a good look. And, of course, work hard, but remember to make time for yourself! Life has a lot to offer, so go get it while you still can.

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