Whether you aspire to become a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) expert or are a seasoned FHA originator, taking the time for continuing education is a must. Over the last three years alone, there have been more than 500 changes to FHA loan programs! The challenge is figuring out which of those changes you need to know about, and which ones you can ignore.
Have an expertise
Very early in my career, I learned from my industry mentors the vital importance of becoming an expert in some particular loan, so I chose the FHA loan. When you become expert at one type of loan, you begin to attract more of that type of loan, and if you continue to upgrade your expertise and do the loan well, what follows is a reputation as an expert. This helps to create new relationships, which, in turn, brings referrals of loans outside of your expertise as well.
Make a commitment to becoming an expert
Many mortgage loan originators (MLOs) may fear that becoming an expert in one type of loan will limit them and prevent them from getting other types of loans. In reality, this is an unwarranted fear. Take a look at other professionals, like CPAs and attorneys. Though these professionals more than likely have an area of expertise, if you look at their billable hours over the year, you will notice that they do work in many different areas of their profession, not just those in their specialty.
So, ask yourself this question: “What loan am I an expert at?” If you cannot answer that question, then it’s time to choose a loan product you enjoy and do well and make yourself an expert in it! One of my personal favorites is the standard 203b FHA loan program; no matter what state the housing industry is in, you will always have more first-time homebuyers than any other type of buyer. And, because these buyers are usually buying lower priced homes, the interest rate has less of an impact on their monthly payment than the higher loan amounts.
Other great FHA niches where MLOs can excel and develop a nice referral base are the 203k rehabilitation loan, which I have written about previously in these pages (do a search on the NationalMortgageProfessional.com Web site for 203k to read more). Or, Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) loans, FHA’s reverse mortgage. Bear in mind that each of these loans has a unique sales process and will give you a different type of borrower, in addition to a different type of referral partner, so keep this in mind when selecting a loan to become expert in; it’s important to like the type of people you will be working with closely. For example, the 203b attracts a larger percentage of first-time homebuyers; the 203k requires that you enjoy the construction component of the process and working with contractors; and the HECM necessitates that you enjoy working with financial planners and elderly clients who have a lot of questions and take longer to make their decisions. All these factors need to be taken into account, as it is important for you to have a passion for the loan program that becomes your area of expertise. Which leads me to the next point …
Have a passion for what you do
It’s not enough to just possess the requisite knowledge to do the loan; to excel (and to enjoy your work life more!) you need to have passion about what you do. This will keep you inspired, and will inspire others to want to do business with you. Whether it’s a real estate agent or a potential client, people would rather work with someone that not only has the skill, but also the passion for their work.
Selecting your FHA continuing education
Now, here’s the rub … assuming an FHA loan is where you want to focus your efforts, there are important realities you need to keep in mind with respect to choosing the source of your continuing education (CE) and training. Being a former FHA DE Underwriter trained by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), having originated FHA loans for 16-plus years, and having trained MLOs since 1999, this has provided ample opportunity to take all types of FHA courses in different parts of the country. I can honestly say that every FHA training session I ever attended was written by an underwriter, and presented from the perspective of the underwriter! Well, this is great if you want to learn how to be an underwriter, but not if you want to be an expert FHA originator!
The fact is that an underwriter doesn’t know what it’s like to be on the origination side of a loan. There are unique circumstances which can and do arise that only an MLO can understand. Given this, when you select FHA CE courses, it is to your distinct advantage to select courses that are written by those not only expert in FHA, but with extensive experience actually originating FHA loans. In my experience, of all the continuing education providers, Mortgage Success Source understands the importance of providing educational content from an MLO perspective. This is why they have produced self-paced online FHA CE courses from experienced MLOs like Linda Davidson, one of the nation’s top FHA Originators, and renowned LEED’s-certified MLO Dakota Gale. Of course, these FHA courses are part of the full eight-hour Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) requirement, and I am sure that you will be very pleased with not only the content, but the visual appeal and user-friendly course design.
With your FHA continuing education, you can take your business to the next level and become an FHA expert in your marketplace. It all begins with your commitment to learn.
Jeff Mifsud is founder of Michigan-based Mortgage Seminars LLC, a former FHA underwriter with 15-plus years of experience originating FHA loans, an FHA expert for LoanToolbox.com and creator of The FHA Originator, a monthly FHA newsletter. Jeff may be reached by phone at (248) 403-8181.