Everywhere they turn, people considering a career as a mortgage loan originator (MLO) are being warned that it’s not the right time. Interest rates are rising. Companies are laying off personnel. Home prices are too high preventing people from affording them. And mortgage companies are closing in droves. I hear these concerns almost daily. To all of that I defiantly assert that now is the perfect time for those considering a career in mortgage loan origination to pull the ripcord.
Don’t Let The Hype Dissuade You.
Yes, it’s true that several mortgage companies are laying off staff and even closing down. It’s true that interest rates are higher than they have been in years. And I’m not going to lie … fewer people can afford homes now than just two to three years prior. The bottom line, however, is that people will always need homes in which to live, they will always be purchasing them, and, since most people do not have the cash to buy their new home outright, people will always need mortgage financing. Someone has to originate those loans, right?
Maintaining a focused and accurate perspective is crucial. Just because a plane might occasionally crash does not mean that flying is, overall, unsafe. If a potential traveler was to define the state of aviation based on the news of one calamitous event, his or her reality would be perversely skewed.
Periods of high interest rates directly result in fat trimming. They always have and they always will. Business slows down. Companies that were underperforming or poorly managed will close. Mediocre loan originators who were not passionately committed to the industry will leave. That’s simply the natural progression associated with the normal ebbs and flows of mortgage lending. Disastrous forest fires may be tragic, but they’re necessary to purge, rejuvenate, and regrow. I encourage you to refrain from definitively interpreting what you might be hearing as doom and gloom for the mortgage industry. Instead, I urge you to maintain perspective, see the forest for the trees, realize that what you’re hearing does not permanently define the industry as a whole, and, instead, view this as an exciting opportunity, a new path.
But Who Would Hire Me With No Experience?
There are numerous mortgage companies aggressively hiring. Even now. These companies insightfully understand that, once the cycle completes full circle (which it always does), successful companies will need a prepared and properly-trained MLO staff to handle the returning demand. Successful companies also recognize the inherent value of hiring inexperienced staff. By doing so, they can correctly and properly train their new hires to their standards, processes, and policies without first having to tear them down and “reprogram” them like a new marine going through boot camp.
Slower times are more conducive to learning and professional growth. By joining a lender or brokerage team during slower periods, the newly-hired MLO can take the time to correctly learn the processes without the added pressure of extreme trial by fire. Wouldn’t it be better to develop your understanding, processes, routines, and procedures under more relaxed conditions? Then, when things start to accelerate, those processes and routines will be second nature.
Flexibility, Creativity, and Good Old Fashioned Hard Work.
“So how do I find a company willing to hire a rookie like me?” you may ask. It’s quite simple. The more flexible you can be, the easier it will be to land that job offer. Are you stuck in an area with few lenders none of which are hiring? The solution may have to be relocation. I understand that relocating may not be as easy as suggesting it, but it’s important to equally focus on the costs and rewards. The price of inflexibility may be unemployment.
Creativity is also key. Think outside the box. No lenders or brokers in your area hiring? How about the local bank? Do they not have mortgage origination jobs available? If not, how about a position as a teller? The goal is to get inside the door. Grow from there. You’d be amazed at how many opportunities will ultimately present themselves.
In 1996, I knew for what a mortgage was used and how to spell the word. That was it. I needed a job, I had customer service experience, and M&T Bank, one of the largest local employers, was hiring. When going into the interview for the customer service representative position, I wasn’t aware that the position was in their mortgage department. I certainly had no previous aspirations of becoming a mortgage professional. But I needed a job so I took what they offered. And that decision ultimately proved to be life-changing.
Consider becoming a loan officer assistant or a processor if no MLO position is available. Those roles are concrete stepping stones leading to the MLO position. Networking is another effective way to create opportunities. Get involved with organizations such as the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Take a class, go to a conference, attend the MBA’s upcoming Convention and Expo. Even if you’re not yet officially a mortgage professional, the more you’re involved, the more doors will open.
Regardless of all of your other efforts, there is no replacement for hard work. When times get tough, I remind myself that, “There’s no such thing as failure. Only success and learning” (author unknown). Every “no” brings you one step closer to a “yes!” It might not be easy. But is anything truly worth it ever? Remain focused, determined, and committed to finding the right job with the right company. Understand that discouragement is a small albeit necessary part of the journey. And don’t let it paralyze you when it happens.
Plainly and simply, pick yourself up, get pumped, and go get that job that’s out there, right now, waiting for you. You’ve got this!