Characteristics of great loan originators

There are a lot of things about origination that can be taught: product guidelines, how to structure a loan, and effective database management, to name a few.

Other things, however, are much less tangible. There are some traits that almost all of the top originators share, and it’s not necessarily the ones you might expect. Not all originators, for example, are outgoing and outspoken extroverts, who thrive on shaking hands with everyone in a room. Not all originators are even good salespeople. Most, however, possess a number of traits on the list below.

1. Personable Any top producer will tell you that origination is just as much a relationships business at it is a mortgage business. People want to work with people that they like, and partners want to partner with people that they like. Originators have to enjoy connecting with people and fostering relationships that can then turn into business. Genuinely being interested in people and their lives makes it easier to stay connected over the years, and—contrary to popular belief—doesn’t necessarily require an outgoing, bubble personality.

2. Strong work ethic Origination isn’t a clock-in, clock-out job, and so originators have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get the deal done. That doesn’t necessarily mean working more hours; it means being diligent, seeing everything through to completion and constantly working to improve the experience for the client and the process of their business. Part of having a strong work ethic means being consistent and committed to getting results.

3. Resilience Origination is not for the faint of heart. Sometimes deals fall apart at the last minute and the originator needs to swoop in to save the day. Markets are cyclical, and the most successful year can be followed by the least successful. Regardless of anything that goes wrong, originators have to be able to adjust, adapt, and move on.

4. Leadership Whether they be a branch manager with a team of originators, or the head of a small production team, leadership is an important quality for an originator. The best leaders are able to manage people and personalities, and have the ability to take a big-picture view of the business, identifying problem areas. The best leaders also serve as an example to peers in the business of how to operate. They recognize that not every originator working in the space is a competitor. They’re not afraid of collaboration and exchanging ideas with others.

5. Forward-thinker No one can predict the future, but the best originators make plans for where they want their business to be, not where their business is today. That might mean overstaffing in anticipation of increased production volume, or it might mean studying the market to understand where the economy is going. Some of this comes with industry experience, and being able to recognize patterns over time. Even inexperienced originators, however, can be interested in innovation and investing in ways to boost future business.

6. Patience Mortgage origination isn’t about staying in the game for a few years and getting out. Cultivating partnerships and trust takes time, and people who are interested in a quick fix or immediate results need not apply. Strategies to improve business rarely make a difference overnight; even when there’s a flurry of activity or a new campaign brings in leads, it still takes time for originators to get to the closing table, and that process involves a lot of factors that are outside of the originator’s control. Top originators know that doing the work of tilling the soil today will bear the harvest for tomorrow, and nothing happens overnight.