Top Originator Spotlight: Guaranteed Rate Affinity's Brian Scott Cohen

"In this industry, knowledge is king"

Top Originator Spotlight: Guaranteed Rate Affinity's Brian Scott Cohen

Brian Scott Cohen, senior loan officer at Guaranteed Rate Affinity, believes there are three factors necessary for a loan officer to be a top originator: product mastery, stellar communication skills, and speed.

Cohen (pictured) responds to emails and calls quickly, and by that, he means within a few minutes. Having spent over 17 years in the mortgage business, he also stays up to date with lending guidelines and is always upfront with his clients and real estate agent partners.

“You only have one chance to make a good first impression,” Cohen said. “If you know your products and communicate efficiently, it honestly makes you stand out from your competition.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this Q&A, Cohen talked about his business philosophy, the best and most challenging parts of his job, and his advice for loan officers struggling to increase their production.

MPA: Can you give me an idea of how, when, and why you got started in the mortgage business?

BC: In 2004, I started working in the mortgage industry after I reconnected with my college roommate. I was living in New York City, and my college roommate had a solid job with a mortgage company in upstate New York. At the time, I was not working in the mortgage industry and was intrigued. I knew I had to study up on mortgages. The company he worked for opened a branch in Brooklyn with a few opportunities, so I decided to give mortgages a try, and the rest is history.

MPA: What is your business philosophy, and where does it come from?

BC: Our team motto is: “Be reliable. Be responsive. Build relationships. Foster trust.” I worked hard to build a team that trusts each other and gives 150% to our clients. We motivate and push each other every single day.

Read next: Guaranteed Rate names veteran fintech executive as CMO and CDO

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

BC: It’s so hard to select just one out of all the people I have worked with throughout my career. One that stands out is a young couple of first-time homebuyers who had a baby on the way. They had their eyes on a new, luxurious co-op. They were both highly successful entrepreneurs, but they were under the impression that because they were not salaried employees that they would not qualify for a loan. I gave them advice to get a preapproval letter to show them what they could afford. Our challenge was getting the building approved for financing because it was a boutique co-op, and the bank took longer than usual to evaluate the risk. I worked closely with them and asked them to be patient, and ultimately helped them to secure their mortgage and fulfill their dreams of homeownership.

MPA: Can you 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.

BC: I am trying to improve my time management skills and build new relationships. With the pandemic, getting face-to-face and making new connections was not easy. Now, I am trying to create space away from my computer and network in person more regularly because I know it’s important in the long run.

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

BC: I’m proud to say that within my first year at Guaranteed Rate Affinity, I became the number one loan officer nationally at the company. One of our core values that I adhere closely to is “think big.” Last year, Guaranteed Rate Companies broke records, with more than $116 billion in total loan volume. My goal is to continue leveraging the company’s great technology platform to keep on a growth trajectory to hopefully break some more records.

MPA: What is your market outlook for the mortgage space this year?

BC: Rates are rising, but they are still historically low. I’m seeing a lot of bidding wars because it’s a seller’s market, and there is currently low inventory. Buyers have to act quickly because they no longer have the choice they were used to before.

Read next: How a top originator handles a turbulent housing market

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

BC: Be confident about your products and know what you can and cannot do. Do not overpromise and underdeliver. In this industry, knowledge is king. Borrowers don’t owe you anything, and they can easily go to the next mortgage person. Be calm when you advise. Most borrowers are stressed when they start the mortgage process, so if you emanate that you are calm, I have found that goes a long way.

MPA: Where will we find you on a Saturday at 10 a.m.? How do you unplug yourself from work?

BC: You’ll find me spending time with my family on weekends. We have a house in Westchester, N.Y., that helps us to unplug from the city. We love the community there - it’s our home away from home.

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