Derrick Strauss (pictured) recalls the moment when he knew that he had established a successful mortgage career.

“I had a veteran who really wanted to buy a house with his finances but didn’t qualify for the home by themselves. With a VA loan, you can’t have a co-borrower on the loan unless they are your spouse. Ideally, they wanted to buy the home first and then have their wedding after, but I had to tell them I couldn’t make it happen unless they were married,” Strauss said. “They immediately went down to the Justice of the Peace and got married one day later, produced a marriage certificate, and I was able to add the new spouse to the loan and meet their closing date.”

The Planet Home Lending retail branch manager told MPA that it was one of the more memorable closings he’s had in his career. From marriage to parenthood, Strauss is proud that he gets to celebrate milestones with his clients along the way.

When asked what his secret is, Strauss confessed that he doesn’t just write loans. Instead, he likes to approach his customers’ problems through big-picture thinking.

“I have a system that I use with people right after they experience a major credit event in their lives,” he said. By dedicating himself to being a problem-solver for his clients, he was able to put millions of dollars together each month.

Last year, Strauss closed 225 loans and over $82 million in volume. He was also recognized by SocialSurvey as one of the top 250 loan officers nationwide for customer satisfaction. On top of that, he managed to grow his branch to its highest production by refining its process to be fast and productive.

“One of the best pieces of advice I have heard is ‘you’re only as good as your last month/year/transaction.’ We cannot rest on our laurels of the past but must press on to continue to grow in our success. This has motivated me to be hardworking and never think too much of myself,” Strauss said.

Strauss adds that he is learning to shift from a management mindset to a leadership mentality. He knows that without this change, he won’t be able to build up his branch, sales team, and operations to the level of professionalism and production they want to achieve. It’s a priority for him to inspire his team and keep them moving forward. With time, the mortgage professional sees himself mentoring his loan officers, passing on what he has worked hard to build and empowering the next generation in the industry.

“This is a difficult time. With COVID-19, low inventory and jobs being low, it will continue to be difficult. To those who are willing to put in the hard work of prospecting, finding solutions for past clients, and making this a full-time job, there will be success. For others not willing to do those things, it could be hard or impossible,” Strauss said.