2020 was a big year for mortgage pros. The housing market was a bright light in an otherwise bleak economy and low rates and a refi boom meant that mortgage originators enjoyed record volumes and record profits by the end of the year. But what have they been doing with all their new cash?
To find out, MPA spoke with two leading originators, one senior and established and another relatively new to the industry. They both shared how they’re using their profits to reinvest in their business, give back to their communities, and help secure their families’ wellbeing into 2021 and beyond.
“In terms of take-home pay, it only jumped by about 30% this year,” said Christopher Keelin (pictured), the Northeast senior VP of sales at Family First Funding who has exceeded $350 million in loan volume in 2020. “It could have been more, but I reinvested in the business. This year I bought the buildings my offices are in and refinanced them…I also incentivized the people here and gave them a large piece of that cookie.”
Keelin decided to further incentivize and compensate his team after the brutal uncertainty of March and April when nobody knew if and when the business would recover. Since lenders opened their doors again, Keelin’s team “grinded” through 2020. He wants to recognize them for that work.
Annmarie Edwards (pictured immediately above) is reinvesting too. The Cape Cod-based guaranteed rate loan officer, whose volume has tripled between 2018 and 2020, is only four-years into her practice. While she’s enjoyed a great deal of success, she knows there’s always room for improvement. She’s now working with a professional coach and using some of her extra earnings to focus on social media content creation with an eye to reaching younger people.
Edwards and Keelin both stressed that while they’ve enjoyed strong financial years, many Americans have been hard-hit by the pandemic and its resultant recession. Edwards has been using some of her 2020 profits to support a new charitable effort called the Giving Grace Foundation, which supports access to performing arts and financial literacy education for underserved children. Financial literacy, especially, is a cause close to Edwards’ heart.
“I want people to be educated about money, because it’s not taught in school,” Edwards said. “I’ve been passionate about this since I was young, and I see it all the time looking at people’s credit reports and bank statements. They’re not taught how to manage their incomes.”
Like Edwards, Keelin is supporting a few charitable organizations and scholarship programs in and around his community. He told MPA he’s currently working with his team on developing a charitable outlet of his own to ensure that as much donated money as possible ends up where it needs to go.
Both Edwards and Keelin, too, stressed that they’re not using their new profits for sports cars or indulgences. Keelin is using extra profits to build out his real estate portfolio and better generate passive income. While he loves his job too much to retire, he does want to be able to take breaks when needed and bring a little more work-life balance back into the mix. Smart investments now are how he plans to fund those efforts.
Edwards and her husband purchased a home on Cape Cod this year and, without travel opportunities, have been gardening and preparing for the future. Edwards said that neither she nor her husband “come from money” so extra profits now are being set aside to keep her family secure if rainy days come again.
“My husband makes fun of me for being pretty frugal,” Edwards said. “I don’t even buy coffee on weekdays. I do get my nails done but that’s about it.”