Mortgage veterans offer advice amid turmoil

Here are their top tips…

Mortgage veterans offer advice amid turmoil

It’s important to listen to the voice of experience, especially during challenging times. Mortgage Professional America caught up with a pair of mortgage industry veterans attending the AIME on Tour networking event in Anaheim, Calif. last week to gain insights into navigating through the altered industry landscape.

“Forget about the interest rates,” Jerry Avila of TruePath Loans said, referencing increases implemented by the Fed in an effort to tame inflation. “Stop thinking about interest rates,” he insisted. “Don’t be Chicken Little – the sky is not falling. Rates will eventually come back down and we’ll be right back where we were in regard to production. Right now, yes, there’s going to be more scarcity in the market, and we’re going to get discouraged. If you just stay patient and nurture the people you have, you should be able to turn that around real quick once rates start dropping.”

Like Avila, Andrew Kunisawa of Accelerated Lending Group, experienced the Great Recession of 2008. He echoed Avila’s perspective on focusing on people rather than the higher interest rate environment – a lesson he learned when he was forced to leave the industry after the subprime meltdown before returning to it in 2017.

“Those were rough times,” he said of the market collapse 15 years ago. “The biggest thing I would say is no matter what you’re doing – if it’s a refinance or whatever – you’re building a relationship. And relationships last long periods of time. They’re not just a transaction. So, if you look at each thing that you do as a relationship, you’re building something long term.”

Brokers should ask themselves: “How can I bring value to other people?” he said. “That’s the way you have longevity. Every person that you talk to you look at as how can I bring value and make a real relationship.”

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Both brokers believe in the power of imagery and recommended polishing up on video skills. The tactic has been especially effective for Kunisawa, he told MPA, and he credits the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts that staged the networking event with helping him develop video-making skills. He now produces video content consistently and has even started a group for brokers of a certain age for whom social media doesn’t come naturally. The 57-year-old broker referred to the group as the “old people marketing group” designed to help others get into video as well.

Avila also suggested exploring other avenues of potential production – non-QM lending, SBA, etc. – during these challenging times exacerbated by higher rates and inflationary pressure. Those avenues, coupled with a strong work ethic, should make a difference, he suggested.

“Have consistency in what you do,” he said. Other tips: “Following through on promises you make. Keeping the main objective. Keeping people in homes. Getting creative. We’re involved in everything – commercial, non-QM, SBA. Definitely, demand is increasing and the need for our services. You need to look at alternative avenues.”

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Both men credited AIME with helping them re-acclimate into the industry after the challenges of the past and the exigencies of the present. Kunisawa ticked off the immediate impact his AIME membership had on his business. “Once I joined AIME in early 2018, and started connecting with people and other loan officers across the county – seeing what they were doing to be successful, how they structured their businesses, how they marketed to realtors, how they used social media – it was a big impact,” he said. “Getting to know some of the top producers, getting to meet them and talk to them was big.”

Avila concurred: “What it’s done for me is putting me in line with a lot of people who think like me, act like me, walk and talk like me, who know exactly what it takes to take care of the consumer.”

The mission of AIME closely mirrors a mantra of sorts he inculcates among his staff: “Service before self,” he said. “If you don’t put the client or consumer before your own needs and wants, you’re not going to be successful. The people we’re involved with at AIME have always geared into that. They’re an extension of my family now.”