Risha Kilaru, Know-It-all
SVP Mortgage Lending, OriginPoint
Modex reported 2022 Volume: $249.61 million
Self-proclaimed “Benjamin Button of the mortgage industry,” Kilaru is as competent and articulate as they come. She can underwrite loans in her head. She can give you realistic projections about where the market is headed. She can travel the world and answer all of her clients phone calls without missing a beat. Oh, and she’s one of California’s top producing originators. It’s a mystery whether there’s anything she can’t do — that’s what makes her so valuable.
What kind of buyers do you work with?
I'm in the toughest real estate market in the country, where they are extremely savvy. I would say they're very rate centric. I mean, you name it and that's the demographic I deal with. So, I have a lot of Asians and Caucasians. But I would say they are a very tough group of buyers that pretty much knows what's going on. They know the numbers, they've got spreadsheets, and they've talked to people.
What kind of market are you anticipating in 2023?
I don't think this is the market that you had in November and December. I think your borrowers have figured out this pricing it's not gonna last.
You can already see the trend of inflation is coming down. Your job numbers are still fantastic with 311,000 jobs added in February. So that fear of recession that you've been hearing and that has been scaring buyers, it's really not what the numbers are showing.
I tell my clients that you can't look at what the Fed is doing. It's like driving a car and looking in the rearview mirror. They look at the past to determine the plan for the future. I said that's the wrong way to gauge the U.S. housing market or the economy. The easiest way, if you wanna get an idea where the markets are heading, is looking at stocks. Your stock market is not doom and gloom.
I tell my clients, when that rate dips, you miss the boat. It's like buying the stock at its peak. If you don't see the value of buying it when it's the lowest, then you are not a savvy investor. But the trend is these guys have figured out they can get a house cheaper today. It's still technically a buyer's market, but it can switch on a dime.
Is there any strategy you consider your secret weapon?
It's my background. I always think of myself as the Benjamin Button of the mortgage industry. Truly, because when I started my career trajectory, I started in the foreclosure department, the very end of the loan process. Then, I started managing bankruptcies. After, I started running those departments, then running quality control, then being moved to correspondent where I was handling the buybacks. Later, I began underwriting loans for a company, learning anything and everything about how to structure a loan, how to make it work, and how to make it sellable before finally moving into origination.
I am literally underwriting the loan in my head as I'm talking to them. I know which borrowers could default because I've worked with enough borrowers that have defaulted, been in foreclosure or had bankruptcies. In one conversation I know if this deal's gonna pan out or it's not worth wasting my time.
All of this knowledge and background is rare. It’s very rare you would find a loan officer that's underwritten or ran underwriting or has run so many departments associated with mortgages. Most of them just start originating.