Christopher Gallo really wanted to be a police officer.
When Gallo, now a mortgage consultant at NJ Lenders Corp., was in college, he was working at a small bank in the credit department. At some point, he was approached by a mortgage banker who introduced him to the mortgage industry. Initially, he wasn’t interested, but eventually he gave it a shot. He never looked back.
Working through the financial crash, he had to figure out the best way to do business, and how he could adapt.
“One thing I did learn was that this is a very complex process and also, things are changing towards [being] technology-driven or automation-driven; I feel that one thing that’ll never go away is the originator because I feel that this is such an emotionally-involved process that people don’t want to leave it up to a computer to make the decision,” Gallo said. “People want to have someone to turn to and talk to, and that’s the one thing I kind of stick with—I’m always involved.”
Of course, a borrower can go to his website to begin an application, but he has no problem taking a 1003 over the phone. If the natural progression with the borrower turns into a hands-off process and it flows smoothly as such, no problem. If they need more hand-holding, that’s okay, too.
One reason that Gallo maintains an open approach to origination and dealing with clients is that his local market is very diverse. Within a short drive of his office in Northern New Jersey, there are properties that run the gamut from $150,000 to $2 million as well as borrowers who work in any number of industries, and he has the knowledge of products that he can use in all of these scenarios with all of these buyers.
“The area that I’ve grown up in and originated in has given me the ability to do that, not because I’ve specialized in one area, just because of how diverse this area is versus other areas in the country . . . this area is all over the place. You get everything,” Gallo said.
He’s recently added a production partner to his team to take care of the day-to-day stuff that “bogs you down.” Gallo admits he was spread thin, and adding an extra body has allowed him to originate more and spend more time getting involved with the customer engagement upfront, while his production partner spends more time answering the smaller, simpler questions that arise.
Gallo hopes that regulations will continue to loosen in a number of areas in the near future, allowing originators to do different types of business due to new products that are being brought to market versus the traditional “vanilla and chocolate” loan products. While he doesn’t expect things to change too much for him over the next year, he does expect that 2019 will be a bit more challenging. Still, he hopes these changes in products and regulation will create opportunities for originators.
“As rates rise, it’ll create more of a private sector that hasn’t existed for so long and will hopefully open up and start to exist more because rates are higher,” he said. “I definitely think that will be interesting in this upcoming year.”
Gallo said that he thinks people respect the mortgage industry more than they did when he first started in the business, at a time when people were just flocking to the mortgage industry to make a quick buck. Now, education is an important part of success for everyone, and it’s what allows the best originators to thrive in spaces where others can’t keep up.
His advice to any new originator or to anyone looking to take their business to the next tier of production is to be involved, be knowledgeable, stick to what you know best, be personable, and don’t get too elaborate or fancy with systems. It’s not as necessary as people think.
“I stick to the basics and I’ve never gotten away from that. Maybe it’s good, maybe it’s bad, but I think it is working.”
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