'We're not going anywhere': mortgage exec on team's resilience

Industry veteran talks surviving market turmoil and seizing opportunity

'We're not going anywhere': mortgage exec on team's resilience

"I feel bad for the people that aren't making it," seasoned mortgage originator Nick Barta admitted. "But I feel good for us because we're not going anywhere."

But how exactly has Barta (pictured) managed to not only survive but also thrive in a market that has left many struggling?

Mortgage Professional America sat down with Barta, president of Security First Financial's mortgage division, to explore the strategies and philosophies that have fortified his team against the market's ups and downs.

The team behind the success

Barta doesn't mince words when it comes to the challenges the mortgage industry faces. "This has been a worse market to live through than the 2008-2009 crisis," he said. "But I've been doing it for 35 years and lived through it."

Barta credits his team's diverse skill set as a significant factor in its resilience.

Read more: Georgia's mortgage market amid high interest rates

"I've got about 14 people on my team that help me with my production," Barta shared. "I have some people in operations, processors and file managers and underwriters and closers that work with us. I also have two guys who help me with qualifying and a couple of people who help me on the marketing side, following up with leads and ensuring we're answering all the questions. But we do everything from start to finish, so we do everything from taking the application all the way through closing."

This comprehensive approach allows Barta and his team to adapt quickly to market changes. "We have our own underwriters. We have our own closers, so we're able to move pretty quickly and have a little bit of control over the whole process. So, it's been a that's been an advantage to us in these kinds of harder markets that we're going through in the last 18 months."

Helping first-time homebuyers pays off

One of the most intriguing aspects of Barta's business strategy is his focus on a specific niche within the mortgage industry.

"We really do work with those first-time homebuyers, guys that don't have big down payments," he explained. "We do a lot of FHA loans. So, we really kind of specialize on that side. We do jumbo, we'll do the non-QM stuff, but really our bread and butter, 70% of our business is really in government lending."

While he is aware of the difficulties that first-time homebuyers face, especially in today's market, Barta sees these challenges as opportunities.

"It is difficult. What we're finding right now is people just can't save money," he said. "It's difficult for especially young people to save money, even if they make OK money. But this market has given us a little bit of an advantage. Sellers are a little more willing to negotiate. They'll pay some of the closing costs sometimes, and with some of the down payment assistance programs, we're able to get people into homes for far less."

Read more: Paying for closing costs? Everything your client needs to know

In some cases, Barta’s team has been able to help buyers get into a home with as little as 1% down, a far cry from the 20% that might otherwise be required.

Read next: Zillow Home Loans debuts 1% down payment assistance in Arizona

"We're very pro-housing," he said. "We feel like no matter if you have an opportunity to own a home, no matter what the market is, you should own a home."

Positioning for the future

Barta is bullish about the housing market, particularly in his home state of Colorado. "I feel like our market right now is poised for a huge equity boom," he predicted. "I think we're going to see that in the next 12 to 18 months. Anybody saying there's any possibility of a housing crash has no idea what the housing market is about."

Barta believes an exodus is currently happening in the mortgage industry, and his team is doubling down on their marketing efforts to gain market share.

"We're starting to do more marketing. More of the online stuff, more of the social media, more of looking at TV and radio," he revealed. "We feel there's an opportunity to gain market share like there never has been before."

Barta's strategy is not just about surviving the next six to 12 months; it's about positioning his business for long-term success. "Once that interest rate level comes down, we want to be positioned to be the leader in our market," he said.

This isn't just a lofty goal; it's a calculated strategy. Barta knows that there will be a vacuum as others exit the market, and he's positioning his team to fill it.

"While people exit, we want to gobble up their market share," Barta said.

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