When Zach Deal (pictured) moved to New York City two years ago, he already had real estate on his mind. Deal knew from the get-go that it wouldn’t be an easy feat given how competitive the NYC residential market was before COVID-19. But the new entrant somehow found a way to thrive, became a refinance sales manager at Better.com, and closed $483 million during the pandemic.
Deal grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley and has always been fascinated by the tech and real estate boom that was happening around him. He knew he had to find a way to incorporate both interests into his career. In 2019, Deal joined Better, one of the fastest-growing homeownership startups in the country.
“I had always been told it would be an uphill battle, and at times I was tempted to pivot to consulting or another industry where I may have been able to get a corporate job more quickly. However, I stuck to my passion for fintech and real estate and found my way to Better,” he said. “I knew it was the company I wanted to work for because of its innovative, tech-driven approach to streamline the mortgage process, making it easier and more accessible for all. I could not be happier with the decision.”
With the help of Better’s streamlined online process, Deal was able to capitalize on the refi boom and quickly quadruple his total volume from $57 million in 2019 to $483 million in 2020, closing over 1,400 loans. Refinances accounted for 97% of his overall volume, a big jump from just 14% the previous year. This meteoric growth has put him on the 26th spot in the Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators list for 2021. Deal also moved to a management position and now run a team of originators.
“The team consists of people from a variety of different backgrounds. I foster a collaborative team dynamic and team-first mentality. While everyone has their own files, each member of the team is always helping one another,” he shared. “I also instil a strong sense of responsibility because the work we do is very impactful and is typically the biggest financial transaction of someone’s life. Naturally, this means it can be a very high-stress process, so anything and everything we can do to make it as smooth and stress-free as possible is important.”
One of the many things he is teaching his team is transparency. Since a large chunk of his business comes from word of mouth, Deal does everything he can to deliver a candid and smooth process. He also focuses on client experience and has seen it pay off every time people happily refer him to their friends and family.
“A purchase or refinance is a huge financial transaction for any family and a responsibility I take very seriously. Because of that, earning a client’s trust is one of the most important aspects of our job, and a referral is a reliable way to tell that has happened,” Deal said. “Additionally, the tools and technology we have created always really impress our clients and separate us from competitors.”
The pandemic played a massive part in shaping Deal’s record growth, but the uncertainty it brings also poses the biggest challenge to his 2-year mortgage career. Deal also acknowledges the trauma these challenging times have brought to his clients. That’s why he encourages everyone on his team to be empathetic as possible towards each other and their customers.
“I think listening is an extremely important part of being a successful originator and is often overlooked. Every client has their own unique set of circumstances, and the ability to listen to each to ensure you are serving their needs as best you can is critical to a successful business. One thing I have learned in this business is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer or solution, so the ability to look at each loan with a fresh set of eyes is very important to a successful career,” Deal said.