My friend Hakim Singleton recently treated me to a tour of his city—Philadelphia, PA—complete with a delicious cheese steak and a cigar bar, and we got to chat about our experiences in the mortgage business. Hakim and I met a few years ago in a really cool way, which I’ll share in just a minute.
Hakim is a loan officer with a team of three folks. He has an assistant and a processor, and he recently lost his LP (loan partner), so he’s on the hunt for a good one. His assistant does all the upfront intake stuff, schedules loan consults, and updates people. Hakim preps the loans for the processor who gets them all pretty.
To me, Hakim embodies the attitude of being ALL IN.
Hakim’s Courage and Commitment
Hakim and I met at a two-day conference in Clearwater six years ago. He had read The Millionaire Loan Officer, listened to the podcast, and decided it was time to go all in. He bought his plane ticket, booked the hotel, and literally packed food in his bag because he knew he wouldn’t have enough money to buy any when he got there. He went to the ATM and took out $200 to use as a deposit for his room, but the hotel wouldn’t take cash. And he only had $1.67 left on his credit card. What was he going to do?
Well, he knew he couldn’t go home, and he knew he was getting paid the next day, so he put down his bags, planted himself on the hotel couch, and thought, “They’ll have to kick me out.” He crossed his legs, and started playing on his phone. The manager was watching him and walked over to him. “You’ve got cash?” he asked kindly. “We’ll take it.”
The next day Hakim got up bright and early because he knew we were providing some light refreshments—pastries and coffee—and he could have something to eat that didn’t cost him anything. He ate his food, sat in the front row, got to meet me, and the rest is history.
To this day, my mind is blown by the courage and commitment it took Hakim to do what he did. And I’m honored by the trust he placed in me. And it’s been incredible to see his growth over the past few years, and it’s worked out really well for us. I often find that our biggest growth happens during the hardest times. When things are easy, we don’t grow. When we face a challenge, when we put some weight on the barbells, that’s when we grow.
It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. I asked Hakim to tell me about the primary activities he did to grow his business this year.
Going Deep with His Agents
Hakim’s main focus is simply going deep with his agents. That’s what works for him. He doesn’t have any bells and whistles, just a lot of hand-holding with his partners, checking in on them, grabbing coffee or lunch or going to a baseball game. He just does life stuff with them, like helping one of his agents move his grill from the ground to his new deck.
Right after we met six years ago, Hakim immediately started doing Thor’s Hammer. He didn’t have access to a list of agents, because he didn’t have the money to buy it. So he looked at his last two years of closings and called all of the agents on the buyer and listing sides.
When Hakim calls agents, he talks to them like a best friend. The most important thing is that he’s true to himself. He refuses to water down who he is. He’s from North Philly and talks like he talks, walks like he walks, dresses like he dresses, and refuses to change. “It’s either take me as I am or don’t take me at all,” he says. “And if you don’t take me at all, no hard feelings. I still love you.”
He goes for it every day with gratitude, knowing that nothing is guaranteed in life. He’s grateful for every referral, agent, phone call, and employee. All of it.
Where did this mentality come from? Hakim says it’s a little bit of everything. For one thing, he grew up playing football where you have to go all in or get your head knocked off. He listens to Dr. Eric Thomas and the late great Nipsey Hustle. He listens to the Loan Officer Freedom podcast. He’s always learning, stays centered, and always goes all in.
Doubling Down Going Forward
Last year when everyone was doing refis, Hakim only did 11 or 12. And their team did $23 million in production with an average loan amount of $204k. It was almost all purchase loans. This year, Hakim is doing the same things he did last year, just doubling down, talking to his agents more, hanging out more, especially now that the world has opened back up.
I asked him about the issue a lot of loan officers are having right now where they preapproved a group of people at lower interest rates and now rates have doubled in some cases. How does he have that conversation with borrowers?
Hakim said that, when the rates started flying up, they reached out to people, asked how they were doing, and said, “Listen, we know we pre-approved you 30 days ago. Rates are crazy right now. So, as you shop, we want to make sure that you know what you’re getting yourself into. When you find a property you like, send it over to us. We’ll get you a total cost analysis on it.”
They’re doing TCAs on everything and they’re 100% transparent about it. He knows that a lot of people say not to do cost estimates upfront, but he does them anyway. He wants people to know what they’re looking at. There are no secrets. He wants them to have three options—one high cost, one low cost, and one right in the middle, in the sweet spot. Most of the time, people pick the sweet spot.
He also focuses a lot on helping people who have been rejected due to lower credit scores or who have less cash. People in the inner city, single moms, foster parents. He’s doing a lot of FHA down payment assistance stuff. He teaches classes on first-time home ownership at a local community development center. A lot of his business comes from that sphere. Prior to the pandemic, the classes were in person and he had 60-80 people attend. They moved to Zoom during the pandemic, and they’re going back to in-person soon.
Hakim gets about 60% of his deals from his past database. He does a lot of deals with his high school classmates who he’s stayed connected with. He says he’s a social butterfly by nature, but he has his introverted moments. He doesn’t barge into a large group of people talking, but people will come to him and start talking. I get that.
It Takes Time to Build a Castle
I asked him where he’s getting his new referral partners. He has a dialer (virtual assistant) who is calling agents and setting appointments. He says he has to make a lot of appointments to get some bread and butter from it. In the past two months, he’s had 26 appointments, 10 no shows, and 2 people who referred business to him. That’s not bad. If he gets an agent referring a deal a month, that’s $2000 x 12 = $24000/year.
So many loan officers—myself included—want to build a castle but at the speed of a tent. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to build a castle, it takes castle time, not tent time. But at the end you’ve got yourself a castle.
Hakim says that, in The Freedom Club, you see all these massive producers with hundreds of millions of dollars a year in production. He wants that for himself too, but he realizes he has to sit back and recognize that maybe it’s not his time yet. Maybe it’s time for him to grow and build. “Just run your own race,” he says. “Don’t rush your process. As you continue to grow and tweak, it will get better and better and better.” Hakim started in the business in 2009 when everything was really hard, so this is a walk in the park compared to that.
What I love about Hakim is that he’s not just a successful loan officer, he’s a leader in his community, a loving husband and father to three young kids. We have a lot in common in that we both come from the working poor, and each generation has done better than the last. In my case and Hakim’s, we’ve leap-frogged past a couple generations and our kids are destined to start off in a much better place than we ever could have dreamed of.
A long time ago, I learned that who we are is 10% because of us and 90% about who we hang out with. I’m absolutely honored that Hakim is part of the 90% of who I am because I get to hang out with him. He’s just a class act and I love him dearly. The first time we met, we had this instant special connection. We’re kindred spirits. He inspires me.
So the take-away is this: be all in. It’s not complicated. Hang out with class act people, not doomsday-ers. Be like Hakim. Want help mapping out a plan to get more purchase deals, attract more agents, and get more referrals in a cool way? Click here to schedule your FREE call TODAY.