I entered the mortgage business in 1994 in a market very similar to our current market, as rates had just risen sharply – bringing a sharp end to what was a record refi boom and also slowing the purchase market to crawl.

But – I was hungry and didn’t know any better, so I just tried everything.

  1. Bankruptcy (BK) Attorneys: I quickly found a niche in taking people out of bankruptcy with mortgages – so I started to meet with every BK attorney I could find.  Most never called me back, but a few turned into veritable gushers of business.
  2. Bank Turndowns: I visited bank branches every day on my way to the office and most told me to go away, but three of them (World Savings, Glendale Federal and a U.S. Bank Branch – where I used to see Mark McGwire all the time) buried me in leads.
  3. Contractors: I visited contractors of every stripe and asked them to refer borrowers who might need cash out for the work they wanted done – and I got some business. BUT – I ended up getting much more business from the contractors themselves, as they all needed cash at the time.
  4. Visited Open Houses/”Wowed” A Huge Producer: This was nothing new, but it worked fabulously for me because I ran into a very high-producing agent who needed a loan closed in one day so his client could avoid a foreclosure before he sold her home. We appraised the home at 7 AM while I took the loan app; I got the loan approved by 10 AM; We got all the recissions and waiting periods waived; we got the existing lender to stop the deed of trust sale; we drew docs at 11 AM; signed at noon and funded and recorded shortly thereafter. AND – I ended up getting thousands (yes “thousands”) of referrals from that agent and his network over the years.
  5. Dialed. I of course dialed and dialed and dialed from various data sources – focusing largely on people with variable-rate mortgages and/or missed mortgage payments. And – I got numerous deals that turned into referral networks.

I didn’t just dabble with any of the above efforts, but hit them all very hard, stayed very organized and tracked my progress. And, after only about 3 months in the business, I was permanently busy (often way too busy) for 14 years until the 2008 meltdown. And even then, I would have stayed busy if my two top referral sources had not passed away unexpectedly.


I share all this because getting into the business during a very slow time was the best lesson I ever had. Everyone had pretty much given up, but I didn’t know better and thus learned how to generate business in a very slow market – which is a skill that has forever benefited me (I never had to worry about market slowdowns at all).


I was reminded of my “best lesson ever” when I listened to this HousingWire podcast recently: The Top 500 Agents & Teams Beating the Market.

The guest pointed out how all of those agents learned how to “find opportunity in a down market,” and how that translates to so much more success in normal markets (while also allowing agents not to fear future down markets).

So, that is the gist of this blog: figure out how to succeed in a market like this, and forever be successful. It is kind of exciting when you think about it that way too.


Here are a few interesting tidbits from the podcast:

  1. 233,000 transactions: The top 500 agents and top 500 teams collectively closed 233,000 transactions last year.
  2. Average transaction size was down 7%.
  3. Average volume was down 20%.
  4. National brands dominate: The top five brands represented by the agents were: 5. Sotheby’s; 4. Coldwell Banker; 3. Compass; 2. KW; and #1: ReMax.
  5. 67% of the agents were affiliated with a national brand.
  6. 33% of agents were affiliated with an independent brand.
  7. Split in type of focus: high volume/tech-centric vs. full service – the host said there seems to be a major split taking place in the industry as agents shift into one of those two camps.
  8. The average transaction size for the top agents was $1 million, while the average transaction size for the top teams was $600,000.

You can see the lists of top agents on the RealTrends website HERE.

Jay Voorhees
Founder | JVM Lending
(855) 855-4491 | DRE# 1197176, NMLS# 310167

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