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How to Make a Million Dollars in the Mortgage Business (and Still Have a Life)

Gibran Nicholas
Jan 18, 2013

We’ve all the run the numbers: There’s only one small problem with this formula. Who has time to close 20, 30 or 40 loans per month AND have a life outside of work? I’ve spoken to hundreds of loan originators in the past few months and this is what I’ve heard: ► “I have 100 e-mails in my box right now and I can’t possibly get to all of them…” ► “I’m having my best month EVER, but I’m working 12-14 hour days…” ► “Why does it have to so HARD to get a FRIGGIN loan closed right now?! I could get so much more done if my operations team would just get it together…” SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER? I’ve spent a lot of time researching this and I’m excited to report my results to you. There are three strategies I’ve discovered from conversations I’ve had with dozens of top producers in the mortgage, financial and real estate industries. Here’s what they’ve told me: Strategy #1 – Life Balance through Better Time & Energy Management I spoke to one top producer who just came back from a two-week Safari in Africa… this summer in 2012! Who has time to go to Africa on Safari??? I spoke to one top producer who was on his way to his first 10-day vacation with his wife in over 20 years. Who has time to go to Europe for 10 days in the middle of the biggest refinance boom in recent memory? I spoke to one top producer who said to me, “Gibran, I had to go through cancer before I got my life in order. I had to get real close to death before I finally realized the meaning of life…” So I asked him why… I asked him what the whole cancer experience taught him and why it propelled him to top producer status. He said, “I realized my time on this earth is limited… so I chose to spend my time more efficiently. I called up all my B and C level clients and fired them. I told them, ‘Sorry, I have cancer, I can’t service you anymore.’ Then I changed the way I spent my time to focus on the relationships that really matter most, in my business and personal life… When I’m at home with my kids, I stay focused on family and don’t check email. When I’m at work, I stay focused on work and don’t check facebook. I just got real clear on what I need to be spending my time on.” Powerful. This top producer, Ken Deleon, went on to become the #1 real estate agent in the country, closing $275mm in volume last year. I hope to God we don’t have to go through cancer to learn this lesson in our own lives. What can we learn from Ken? 1. The choice is ours in terms of how we spend our time and energy 2. Some choices we make will keep us stuck, while other choices we make will propel us to top producer status 3. We could improve our results in life and business if we simply make different choices So let’s make better choices. Starting right now! Strategy #2 – Team Building & Leadership One of my favorite conversations was with Diane Clark, a top loan originator who closes $100mm a year in purchase volume (plus an additional $16 million in refinance volume). Diane has an infectious laugh, a charming personality, and a refreshing sense of humor and humility… a true Southern Belle from Dallas, TX. Diane told me one of her main secrets of success is the team she’s built over the years. Her team includes a transaction coordinator, a processor and a few other folks whose sole purpose is to, “care about my clients with the same level of passion as I have.” In fact, that’s how Diane interviews people for her team. She said, “I’m really in this business to help my clients improve their lives. That’s my number one focus. I know I have a winner when I interview a potential team member who’s willing to learn my system and who has a passion to help others.” When I asked about her system, she didn’t take all the credit. She said, “I sit down with my team every day and go over what’s working and what can be improved. Together, we create new processes and improve old processes that need fixing.” What can we learn from Diane? 1. You can’t close $100mm in volume all by yourself and not get burned out 2. Leadership is about finding passionate people AND developing the right systems in your business… AS A TEAM. 3. It’s possible to stay passionate about this industry… even after 20 + years because it’s about helping people improve their lives. Focus on relationships and delegate everything else to capable people who share your passion That brings us to the next point… Strategy #3 – Collaborative Relationships I don’t know about you, but I want to make a million dollars a year EVERY year, not just once every decade. I recently scanned the list of top producing loan originators in all the major industry magazines and discovered that lots and lots and lots of people are making their record volume through refinances due to low interest rates. This is not sustainable. So I asked Diane Clark why she’s the #4 loan originator in the country as ranked by purchase volume. How does she maintain that level of sustainability in her business? She said it was due to relationships she’d developed with relocation companies, financial advisors and other strategic partners. “I’ve been in this business for a very long time and I have established relationships,” she said. “Most people don’t need more relationships, they just need to go deeper with the relationships they already have.” But then I wondered, “How can loan originators go deeper with top producing referral partners who may already have relationships?” So I went back to Ken Deleon and asked him why he doesn’t have his own in-house mortgage company. Then I called the top real estate agent in the Midwest who had his own in-house mortgage company. I asked why he’s not sending clients to his in-house guy and why he’s sending clients elsewhere. They gave me five strategies to go deeper. The most important strategy is to discover the referral partner’s problem. No problem = no sale. In other words, if you want to go deeper with a referral partner, find out what his/her problems are. Go into his/her world and ask questions. Learn more about what he/she is struggling with right now. Learn about what his/her priorities are. The in-house guys and gals aren’t doing that right now. That’s where you come in. We’ll talk about this some more, and we’ll cover some other strategies in the coming months. For now, start by calling up your top three referral partners and asking them what their #1 challenge is right now. That’s the first step to going deeper. So you see, it is possible to make a million dollars a year in the mortgage business AND have an amazing life outside of work! Gibran Nicholas is a speaker, trainer and coach to over 7,000 of America's top entrepreneurs and trusted advisors. He’s the founder, Chairman and CEO of CMPS Institute and Strategic Relationship Academy, an elite performance training and coaching program for top producers. Learn more at
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