She survived the Great Recession through 'perseverance and grit'
Those in the mortgage industry who survived the Great Recession and now find themselves navigating choppy waters fanned by inflation are worthy of some sort of honorific, it might be said. Perhaps even a moniker suggesting superhero status.
Enter Rebecca Richardson (pictured), the self-described Mortgage Mentor dispensing helpful advice in her series of social media videos and via her blog. The Charlotte, NC-based mortgage loan originator with UMortgage describes her superpower on her website: “Most people only think about home financing a few times during their lives,” she writes. “I think about it every single day. It’s your home and your future. It’s my profession and passion.”
There you have it. Seeking to learn more, Mortgage Professional America reached out to Richardson – and it didn’t require a signal in the sky to arrange a meeting. Through the power of the video conferencing platform dubbed Zoom, MPA was able to learn more about the mortgage maven’s trajectory.
“I actually started originating right after college,” she told MPA. “I had worked for a financial planner and got bitten by that bug.” The financial planning world made for an easy segue into the mortgage field after prompting from a real estate broker connection. Entering into the unknown, she had a powerful ally: “Though I didn’t really know what I was getting into, my dad was a real estate attorney, so I definitely grilled him with questions,” she said.
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Some two decades later, the nationally ranked loan officer is as enthusiastic as ever: “I just like it,” she said. “It’s fast-paced, and it’s interesting. I’ve been doing it for 20 years, and I love it.”
She survived the Great Recession through “perseverance and grit,” she said. The same attributes helped fuel her entry into the wholesale market in June after having spent years in retail – joining a growing trend in the process. According to the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME), of which Richardson is a member, 6,353 loan officers who left retail joined the independent mortgage community last year. In the first nine months of this year, per AIME, more than 7,000 loan officers converted from retail to wholesale lending. Another eye-opening stat: The wholesale channel has gained some 18,000 loan officers to date as of September – “a rate of growth in the wholesale channel we’ve never seen before,” one AIME executive told MPA.
The shift has prompted a pivot, as loan officers act more like trusted advisors to their clients – particularly in light of the current economic climate. “It’s very compelling, particularly in market shifts like this,” Richardson said. “And also how technology, how marketing, has changed. It lends itself to being able to build more of an autonomous platform versus relying on the company brand,” she said. “And then you’re looking for that platform that offers the programs you need to be able to meet your clients where they are.”
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Instead of cowering amid a challenging market, she chooses to take a different tack: “Not to have toxic positivity,” she prefaced. “We have to be realistic of what the environment is. But there’s an incredible opportunity to take market share. It’s a natural inclination to shrink back or be scared or all of those kinds of things. This is when you really get to show your strength as a financial professional for your clients.”
Like all who availed of the abundant low-hanging fruit of refinancing of the last couple of years, Richardson looks back on the halcyon days of 2020 and 2021 with fondness. But now it’s time to get back at it when the customer needs help the most, she said: “Fantastic,” she said of ’20 and ’21. “Loved the volume. It was all great. But you did not have to work that hard at being that sharp at your skill,” she said. That was then, and this is now: “This is ‘how are you serving that client, what are those tools you’re bringing to help that client win in what can be already an emotional and stressful process’ but even more so because they’re questioning if they’re making the right decision and what’s going to happen next.”
How brokers react is likely to separate the wheat from the chaff, she suggested. “Being able to give them some of those tools and that education and some of that flexibility,” she said. “We may not like where rates are, but ‘here’s a 2-1 buydown or here’s another strategy you might want to consider’ – and bring on both sides of that conversation,” she said, role-playing possible scenarios to offer harried customers intent on buying a home in a changed market.
“We know homeownership is still a good move to make, even in light of current rates,” she said. “But then also understand where their heart’s at and giving them actionable steps and be able to speak to that,” she said of the posture brokers should adopt with their customers in a shifting landscape.
Spoken like a true mentor – indeed, a Mortgage Mentor.