What Makes a Successful Mortgage Loan Originator?


So you’re thinking about becoming a mortgage loan originator, huh?  Well, if you are and if your primary and sole motivation is high earnings, you may as well stop reading right now because you’re not going to make it.  Oh, you might last a year or so, but not much longer than that.

Prospective mortgage professionals who run towards the mortgage industry envisioning themselves writhing on money-covered mattresses six weeks in are hopelessly fooling themselves.  Sure, the sizable income potential is real.  But only once the professional becomes a solid producer.  And that takes time, experience, and patience.  If the income is the only motivator, that carrot won’t prove sufficient for them to endure the learning, trials, tribulations, failures, and experiences needed to get there.

Karma is Real

As a mortgage loan originator, you will be in a strategic position to help people and make a positive difference in the lives of many.  How wonderful can you imagine feeling when you’re able to help someone improve his life by refinancing him out of a seemingly endless mountain of hopeless debt?  How rewarding will it be known that, because of you, a single mother didn’t have to lose her home?  How memorable will it be when your customer is literally crying tears of relief because you took the time to listen and actually understand, and, by doing so, you were able to derive a solution for her that nobody else would take the time to even consider?  And consider the exhilaration associated with knowing that you helped a young immigrant couple achieve the American dream of homeownership?

You see, the primary motivation for becoming a mortgage loan originator should be to help some people achieve the American dream of homeownership and improve the lives of others.  By doing this, monetary success will follow.  People who you help will refer others to you.  Those people will refer even others, and those people even more.  Imagine if every customer of yours were to refer two new customers to you.  In no time your company would have to position a team to support you.  And that would prove an exceptionally good problem for a company to have.


“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”  Henry Ford said it best.  Attitude defines success and the proper mortgage originator’s attitude must include patience.  When I became a New York State-licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in 1983, do you think that I left the classroom after graduating and jumped into an ambulance the very next morning?  That would have proven disastrous, to me and others!  No!  I had to go through a significant probationary period where an experienced and skilled trainer scrutinized my every move.  My education began the day after I graduated.

New mortgage loan originators must understand that there is far more to becoming successful than securing their license.  There are products to learn, underwriting parameters to know, forms with which to become proficient, calculations to master, insight to nurture, and the resolve to foster so that the new MLO can readily identify when their fiduciary responsibility to the customer warrants him or her referring the customer elsewhere when someone else can help that customer more effectively than he or she can.  And this all takes time.

Would you hand your important home buying experience over to a Realtor who secured her license yesterday?  Would you entrust your complicated tax return to an accountant for whom you would be his first client?  Would you grace someone with little-to-no industry experience with your precious referrals?  I’m fairly certain that you wouldn’t.  Or you would at least think twice before doing so.

So what makes you think that you would be worthy of someone else’s trust without first having acquired crucial experience?  I am constantly amused when brand new loan originators desperately beg for advice on getting Realtors to refer to them.  My advice to them is simple.  Put seeking Realtor referrals on hold, start learning the business, and start building relationships.

The point that I’m, hopefully effectively, articulating is that the new mortgage loan originator must learn to walk before she can run.  The new loan originator must approach his grand entry into the mortgage industry as his next stage of learning and development.  The money to earn is there.  And the earning of that money will ultimately come.  But not a moment before its time.


There is no such thing as an unqualified borrower.  There is only a borrower who is currently unqualified.  Every problem has a solution.  Will you have the interest and resolve to be a part of someone else’s solution?  Will you see your customers as people or dollar signs?  If the answer is the latter, we have nothing further to discuss!  If you appreciate and respect your customers as people and individuals, this will serve you a long way.

Successful mortgage loan originators understand the importance of hearing and not simply listening.  Empathy describes one’s ability to feel and understand what others are feeling and understanding from their perspective.  Hearing breeds empathy and empathy gives birth to relationships.  The career of an MLO who only listens is akin to a cyclist riding her bicycle underwater.  She may eventually get where she’s headed but it will require a lot more work and effort.  

To whom would you be more likely to extend your trust?  A mortgage loan originator who asks you what loan you want or a mortgage loan originator who asks you what you’re trying to accomplish?  Anyone can quote a 30-year rate.  But the successful mortgage loan originator knows how important it is to get to know their customer, learn about what it is that they’re desiring to achieve, discover their wants in addition to their needs, and connect with them on a personal level.  Empathy gives way towards establishing trust.  And once you have a customer’s trust, you have a customer’s devotion for life.

Success is a wonderful thing.  And the mortgage origination industry can afford you a rewarding career with substantial earnings potential.  But to enter into it with only visions of dollars signs will almost guarantee you a prompt burnout and early retirement.


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