Not everyone starts out in the mortgage business as a 22-year-old kid fresh out of college. Some people start a new career in their mid-fifties, like my friend, Joan DeMarco. Joan just happens to be the mother of my dear friend, Mike Cardascia, one of the leaders in the Loan Officer Breakfast Club.
Joan is a mortgage originator who has been working for a mortgage broker company for two years now. She was actually in the business in the early 2000s for a year-and-a-half and was very unsuccessful. She hated the retail mortgage world and let her license expire. Then life took its twists and turns, and she found herself closer to 60 than 50, without a good retirement plan.
She thought to herself, “You know, I’ll be working the rest of my life if I don’t figure this out pretty quickly. What could I do where I could be successful, like what I do, make a lot of money, and build a retirement plan pretty quickly?”
And the rest is history.
Why Did the Mortgage Business Work Out for Her This Time Around?
Joan just had the biggest month of her career. She set a goal for herself for the entire year and accomplished it in two months. She closed $4.5 million in loans last month.
I had to ask her: “So what’s different now? Why did you hate it last time, and now you’re seeing all this success?”
Everything’s different, she told me. In the early 2000s, she joined a very large company. There wasn’t any training. You were just left out there to figure it out for yourself. She was working really hard but doing everything wrong, spinning her wheels, going nowhere, couldn’t close a loan. She wasn’t bringing in applications. She was literally going door to door to different realtors, bringing baked goods she had baked herself.
It got her in the door, and people loved to see her with her big tray of cookies, but they didn’t give her any loans. She followed up and worked very hard, but it was just ineffective. She said she had been trying to reinvent the wheel and just couldn’t figure out how to close more loans.
Now, what’s different is that she’s following a program and a method that her son Mike gave her. The plan is to make a certain number of cold calls each day and try to set up meetings. It turns out she really likes cold calls and keeps getting better and better at them. Soon she was getting 8 out of every 10 people she called to meet with her for coffee or lunch.
How to Make Sure You’re Meeting the RIGHT Agents
I told her that was very impressive and she said she needed to clarify. At the beginning, she wasn’t doing enough research on these people. She was just trying to get more realtor referral partners. She quickly found out that some of them had a production of zero. They were newbies. There was a learning curve as she figured out how to qualify her referral partners and not just meet with anyone.
So, how did she figure out who was producing? How did she come across this list? She says she doesn’t know of a list, but she can research other ways. She’s in a small town. She’s out there networking, talking to a lot of people. She gets magazines and looks at who’s putting ads in. These realtors are spending lots of money on marketing, so she figures they’re doing the business.
I was thrilled to be able to tell her that there actually is a list. My friend Richard sells them at qualifiedagentlist.com. You give him your city or designated area, and he has assistants that look up the production of agents using MLS. It’s $797 for a list of 1000 qualified agents in your area. If you live in a small town, he just draws the circle bigger and bigger until he gets at least a thousand. He’s helped more loan officers than I can count with these lists. As a thank you for hanging out with me on my podcast, I bought Joan’s list for her.
The Difference Qualified Agents Make
When Joan started qualifying agents, there was an exponential difference in the results. They didn’t give her all their business, but she’d ask for them to give her a chance. If they already had a loan officer they worked with, she’d ask to be the backup.
She says she’ll meet with 10 realtors, and roughly 3 of them will send her clients. At the first initial meeting, she doesn’t talk about business at all. Not about loans or mortgage programs or rates. It’s really just a meeting between friends. They talk about life and their kids and why they moved to the area. It’s very genuine and doesn’t feel like a sales meeting. She really wants to get to know them as a friend. Some people are a good match personality-wise, and some aren’t. The people she really clicks with give her all their business.
So, they have coffee or lunch or ice cream and get to know each other. At the end, she says, “Call me if you need anything. Call me when you have somebody or if you want to go again for coffee.” If she doesn’t hear from them within a week, she calls them to follow up.
“Hey, Sue, how are you doing? That was fun last week. How has your week been? Did you get any business? Have you sold any houses this weekend? Can I help anybody?”
Working From Home During a Pandemic
Joan doesn’t work in an office. She works from home, which has been challenging, isolating. She doesn’t have the motivation of people around her. When loans started coming in, she got overwhelmed. Mike told her she needed an assistant, but she didn’t know who to hire. She had trust issues and didn’t want to hire just anyone.
Her other son, Alex, had just graduated college. He was working at an insurance company. When he heard his mom needed help, he quit his job, got licensed in mortgage loans, and now works as her operations manager. Joan has given him the task of the entire follow-up after the loan comes in.
She takes the initial call and the application, but she introduces Alex from day one. “Alex and I will be working together on this loan,” she tells her clients. “If I’m not available, please speak to him.” He’s copied on every email, and now she’ll be in touch with the client once a week, and Alex is in contact with them every day.
She often has realtors calling her in a panic. “I got a contract. You’ve got to call this person and meet them right now!” No matter where she is, she says she’ll literally pull over on the first exit and call the person. She always has a printed application with her so she can take the application wherever she is. I challenged her to let Alex take the application on her behalf to get the ball rolling.
I also asked her about her plan for 2022. She wants to expand the business and hire more people like Alex. She’d like to hire someone who just sets up meetings for her. The biggest struggle she’s facing is just being in her home office alone. I told her she could easily get a two-room suite somewhere for $800 or $1000/month. And she could get a right-hand person in there with her, bouncing energy back and forth.
I love that this has turned into a family affair with her two sons. Mike is her coach, helping her get better and better at what she does. And Alex is learning so quickly and helping her with her production.
At the end of our chat, when I mentioned that she’s come so far in two years, she told me that, actually, the first company she worked for fired everyone after four months. Then she got Covid and was sick for six months. She had to start all over and basically lost an entire year. So in one year, she went from zero to $4.5 million. Wow!
What an incredible example. A woman in her mid-fifties starting a new career in a new field without any experience, helping people get into homes. It’s a win-win all around.
We love helping people like Joan. If you’re just getting started as a loan officer, or having trouble getting over the hump, we’d love to help you map out your next steps. Schedule a FREE call with us (no strings attached!) TODAY.