Five Truths Distilled From 70+ Years of Mortgage Business Experience

Written by Posted On Thursday, 11 July 2019 14:41

In this day and age, it’s all too easy to get lost in the details, especially in a business as complex and rapidly evolving as the mortgage industry. From the process, people, tools and technology, the mortgage business is changing all the time—and keeping pace with that change is a prerequisite for success in a crowded and competitive industry.

It’s also important to take a step back every once in a while, and consider what hasn’t changed, and what isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Those constants—the values, principles and core best practices—should form the philosophical and operational basis for your mortgage journey.

After reflecting back on 70 years in business, here is what I’ve identified as those key constants: the essential lessons and uncompromising ideals that I’ve embraced along the way.

Buying a home is (literally) a big deal

A home is likely the largest purchase that most people will make in their lives. It’s a big step financially, but it’s also incredibly emotional—especially for the first-time homebuyer. Homebuyers are taking on what is typically six-figure debt, often changing the location of their family, starting a new job, or getting used to a new school. Yes, there’s plenty of excitement, but also a high degree of emotion. Ownership of real estate remains a foundational American value. People work hard for it and take tremendous pride in it. Fulfilling that dream, at the same time as taking on a tremendous new responsibility, can inspire a mixed cocktail of emotions: trepidation, uncertainty, pride and excitement. It’s a vulnerable and sometimes scary place to be. That’s why homebuyers rely so heavily on the support of professionals they can count on to not only do things right, but to do the right thing. They value trusted counsel from experienced professionals who will be honest with them about whether a purchase makes sense, or what financing best fits their needs. Referrals and references are so important, and people are only going to refer those that they trust.

Fairness matters

This sounds like one of those excerpts from All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, but it’s an immutable and inescapable truth in the mortgage business: people want to be treated fairly. A fair price. Fair treatment. Honesty and integrity. No one ever wants to pay more than they should, whether it’s the top-line price for a piece of real estate or in the details of the financing terms. Feeling that they are negotiating and receiving fair value for their money, and the right financing for their personal circumstances, is critical.

Relationships are everything

This is equal parts observation and aspiration: relationships are everything. Even at a time when powerful new technology tools have made finding, financing and purchasing a home so much easier, strong relationships are at the heart of the mortgage business. Sure, real estate is still local, but it’s also personal. Homebuyers want to be talked to, educated and counseled—they want to have someone they can trust for unbiased professional guidance and support.

Realtor realities

While the points above apply to consumers/homebuyers, it’s essential that mortgage professionals identify and cultivate relationships with realtors who understand and embody those ideals in their own work. All successful realtors are knowledgeable about their markets, the homebuying process, and the legalities involved. The best realtors are also true counselors, and adept at delivering the insight, resources and personal support that homebuyers are looking for. They have a similarly ironclad commitment to treating people fairly, with honesty, integrity and respect. Most importantly, they understand and respect that homebuyers are under a ton of pressure during an emotionally charged process.

The more things change

I know I said I was going to talk about the constants, but, as important as it is to recognize what stays the same—it’s equally critical to appreciate (and adapt to) what has changed over time. One big and sometimes underappreciated change is the way that people view their homes. Today, perhaps more so than ever before, a house is more than just a place to live. It’s seen as an asset: a place to accumulate wealth. With the increased value of real estate over time, home ownership often turns out to be the best investment many people make. It’s a flexible investment tool that gives homeowners the option to tap their equity, lower their rates, refinance, pay their mortgage off more quickly, etc. Today’s buyers are more sophisticated: becoming not just homeowners, but investors.

These fundamental principles have served us well for nearly three quarters of a century. They not only continue to be relevant today, they are at the heart of any mortgage professional’s work—and I suspect they will continue to be so for at least the next 70 years. 

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Tim Ross

Tim Ross is CEO of Ross Mortgage Corporation, a residential mortgage banking company based in Troy, Michigan and one of the top independent lending firms in the Midwest.

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