Top Originator Spotlight: Tammy Saul of Federal Hill Mortgage

Top LO found true calling in helping immigrants on their quest for the American Dream

Top Originator Spotlight: Tammy Saul of Federal Hill Mortgage

Tammy Saul’s career trajectory was far from conventional, and little did she know that a twist of fate would lead her to a path brimming with purpose and passion.

After her early days as a practicing attorney, she soon found herself immersed in the world of mortgages, drawn into this uncharted territory by her husband’s profession. With a profound understanding of the challenges faced by those who dare to dream beyond their borders, Saul and her husband opened their own brokerage, Federal Hill Mortgage.

Now a renowned figure in the mortgage industry, Saul stands tall as the number one producing loan officer in Maryland, a trailblazer ranked among the top mortgage brokers in the nation. Her unparalleled work ethic, determination, and genuine care for her clients have earned her the title of champion for the American Dream. Through her thriving business, she has become a beacon of hope, helping aspiring entrepreneurs and families secure their piece of the American Dream, one mortgage at a time.

Mortgage Professional America: Describe your career journey to today. How did you start in your role? What attracted you to the profession?

Tammy Saul: My career journey was very atypical. I am frequently referred to as the accidental loan officer. My background has nothing to do with mortgages. I went to business school, and then I went to law school, and I graduated law school, and I was a practicing attorney for two years with no thought to do anything more than that because that is what one does when one goes to law school - they become a lawyer, and that’s what they are for the rest of their life, right?

But my then-boyfriend, now my husband, was a mortgage loan officer and sales director at a mortgage company. I was suddenly and, without notice, fired from my legal job, which was devastating to me because it was my identity, my career, my everything, and my intention was to go and find another job quickly. So, I started applying, but not wanting to lose face and not wanting to not have a job in that interim period, I asked him, ‘Hey, can I work with you? I’ll just be a loan officer for a few months until I get hired somewhere else, and of course, I’m not going to stay here because I’m a lawyer. I went to law school. I need to continue practicing law because this is what I’ve invested years of my life, and this is my passion.’

On my first day in the mortgage industry, I was given about 20 minutes of training on what is a loan value and what is that to income. And I said, ‘OK, I understand there is no licensing’ at the time. You didn’t get licensed in 2003. You basically just got hired. So, they gave me a little bit of background. They gave me a script, put me behind a desk with the telephone and a computer, and said, ‘OK, we have this dialer. The dialer calls out, gets leads, and then people are gonna call in, and then you have to sell them a mortgage.’ And this was all subprime.

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So here we are now, fast forward 18 years, and I went from me and my boyfriend out of the basement of our home with five clients just starting our business from the ground up, to here. I now own a 2.5-million-dollar commercial building. I have 20 employees. I’m the number one producing loan officer in the state of Maryland. I’m the number 11 individual mortgage broker in the whole country, the number 17 female loan officer in the country, and I am surviving and thriving in this industry where many loan officers have jumped ship because it’s gotten too hard. So that’s the beginning, and that’s where I am now.

MPA: Can you share some challenges you’ve faced in your professional life – and how you overcame these?

TS: The first challenge was choosing the right people to work with and the right referral partners. When I was new, or even when I wasn’t new, even as recently as eight years ago, I would take business and accept business and work with any real estate agent who would send me a client or a deal because I needed as much as I could get, and I needed that to survive. So, if a real estate agent or a referral partner was mistreating me, wasn’t being kind, wasn’t being professional, I just brushed it off. I didn’t complain. I just took the hit, and I kept on going, and I was grateful for the business that I could get. I realized that my quality of life was deeply impacted by this road of toxicity and it’s hard to let that go when these people are feeding your business.

And once I made that conscious decision to eliminate toxic people - a toxic employee, a toxic referral partner, or a toxic client - what I realized is that once you make that brave, courageous jump to eliminate toxicity from your life, wonderful people come into your life into that space that you created, and enrich your life and bring new business and bring you new opportunities. And so that’s the biggest change; the biggest shift for me is that I took that leap of faith. And once you do that once and you see that it works, then you do it again, and you do it again, and you do it again - such that now I’m at a point where if I sense a toxic anything, I don’t care how much business it could potentially give me. It’s not good business, and I will walk away.

MPA: Outside or within your current role, have you been a champion for any particular causes or initiatives? If so, why?

TS: I would say the greatest thing I champion is supporting the immigrant population because I am a first-generation immigrant, and that’s where I get my drive. I’m 100% Ukrainian. I was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, so my parents brought me here very young, and I live and breathe the American dream. I see opportunity everywhere I am.

So, from a different region, I love working with all these nice people. I just like working with kind, professional people. I’ll do anything for you if you are kind and professional, even if the loan amounts are small, even if it doesn’t make me a lot of money because I believe that just brings great energy. I literally like working with first-generation immigrants who are after the American dream, and I have a way to help them because if somebody didn’t help my parents early on when they brought me here as a three-year-old and my brother was a two-year-old, and they were in their 20s, I wouldn’t be where I am. So I’m a champion for the American dream and for helping first-generation immigrants worldwide.

MPA: What are your biggest professional achievements so far? And what’s next?

TS: I believe I’m a top-producing loan officer not because I was born smarter or have any genius intelligence. I believe it’s 100% because I work hard and apply myself. That’s what it is, and I think anybody in this industry can do that. People get lazy, and the market, especially since last October, has gotten really tough. And it’s gotten tough for me, too. You know, it’s like walking in quicksand - but this is the time when loan officers and real estate agents, for that matter, have to make the decision to either fight or fold, and you gotta look within yourself.

I’ve always been a fighter. They’re gonna come out hugely on top towards the end of this year and the beginning of next year. I’m doing very well right now. I closed almost 50 units last month. I’m closing 60 units this month, and it is very possible to achieve great numbers in this market despite the walking and the quicksand. As long as you work hard and keep your head down - that’s all it is.

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