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We recently sat down with Paul Anastos is, president of Walpole, Mass.-based Mortgage Master, a Division of loanDepot, a national mortgage lender, and division of loanDepot America's lender to discuss some of the industry’s hottest topics.
NMP: Why is Mortgage Master hiring when so many other mortgage lenders are cutting jobs?
Paul Anastos: The process of buying a home can be frightening and confusing at times, and first-time homebuyers and move up buyers are looking for a relationship with a lender who will be there for them at every step in the process. Not every lender today is willing to invest the time and energy at the level that many of today’s homebuyers expect, especially when it comes to speed and reliability. But at Mortgage Master we are committed to making the experience as easy as possible for our borrowers. We believe the future of mortgage lending belongs to dedicated mortgage professionals who are exceptionally skilled at winning the trust of their customers—people just like them.
Our strategy is simple—we operate with a very efficient and low-cost model to offer qualified borrowers the best rates on almost every product available. This model allows us to give our loan officers the best products, pricing and internal service and support so they can deliver tangible value to borrowers, day in and day out. We believe our model allows us to deliver the ‘Gold Standard’ in mortgage lending.
Our most important asset is our people, all of whom together make us successful. They make the crucial difference. We cannot achieve success without all of their efforts. I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by the people I work with and serve. Being confident is important, but staying humble and remembering you can’t do it without a lot of help from a lot of people is critical.
Why would talented loan officers choose Mortgage Master over the competitor?
We offer extraordinary opportunities. Mortgage Master is strategically positioned for the changes underway in the mortgage industry. A year ago we joined loanDepot, which gave us access to the resources and support we needed to offer financing in all 50 states. We also launched new home lending products and entered into the personal loan space.
More important, we provide support and reward results. Our loan officers’ compensation is significantly above industry averages. This helps us to attract the best loan officers in the industry with unsurpassed experience in meeting the ever-changing financing needs of our customers. Lending professionals who join Mortgage Master are offered all the resources and training needed to be successful, including a two day on-boarding session, which incorporates a 360-degree view of the company’s business and culture.
The results speak for themselves. In 2015, 55 loan officers, or 20 percent of Mortgage Master’s salesforce, finished the year with more than $40 million in personal loan volume production, which is nearly double the national average.
Within the industry, mortgage employment has fallen the past three years and origination volume is forecast to decline next year. How can Mortgage Master bring on more staff?
While overall jobs in mortgage finance have declined, non-bank lenders like Mortgage Master have been growing as traditional banks continue to retreat from the market. The reason that lenders like Mortgage Master are dominating mortgage finance today is our focus on customers and the quality of our people. We have prospered in product areas, such as FHA lending, that are dominated by first-time buyers because we believe that people are the secret. Good people make the crucial difference between the success and failure of our customers.
Another reason for optimism is our entry into the personal loan space—and we’re the first nonbank retail lender to do so. We not only grew our sales and operations teams in 2015, but also expanded into new markets to reach our customers more readily. We have received significant interest from originators across the country and believe the trend will continue through 2016.
To be successful in reaching a variety of homebuyers, mortgage lenders must be willing to deliver the most comprehensive, accurate and direct information possible, including educational opportunities on the home buying process. They also have to employ technology to make the process of applying for and closing a home mortgage as easy and friction-free as possible. They also need to be skilled at delivering the information, products and services today’s homebuyer need and want through the online channels they live and interact on every day. We understand that convenience is a factor that consumers appreciate, and we want to provide that for them from the beginning of the process through the end.
Above all, they must recruit a more diverse, balanced workforce of loan officers who are as excited as we are about the prospects and who will build lifelong relationships anchored in trust.
Many renters could be owners today but they think getting a mortgage is harder to get than it really is—or that they will not qualify. Two-thirds, or 65 percent, think it would be at least somewhat difficult to obtain a mortgage, but only five percent of renters have actually tried to get a mortgage and failed. Hundreds of thousands of young families are renting when they could be living in their own homes today if they only had someone they trusted to help them through the process.
Many economists expect rising interest rates will have a chilling effect on mortgages for purchase as well as refinancing? How will rising rates affect your plans?
The greatest challenge facing the home loan origination professional will most likely occur as interest rates begin to increase. Ongoing regulatory and industry changes are also ever-present challenges. In our constantly evolving business, origination professionals must work efficiently and effectively to remain educated on new regulations while adapting to any new industry standards. We provide that support and partnership at Mortgage Master.
Rate increases are expected to be gradual over the coming year, so they won’t have a major impact on affordability, but even so, they will act as a wake-up call to the millions of renters that would like to buy. They know every day that they delay could cost them in higher rates. Higher interest rates will also make it more expensive for current homeowners to refinance.
The best professionals will find the best solution for each customer. That’s why we believe people are the secret. Good people make the crucial difference and you cannot achieve success without all of their efforts.