Matt Kooistra Shares What It Takes To Be a Top Loan Officer at Ross Mortgage
To help you learn more about the career opportunities available at Ross Mortgage, we’re kicking off a new employee profile series featuring some of our talented team members. This week, we introduce you to Matt Kooistra, branch manager of our Grand Rapids, MI location.
Q: How many years of experience do you have in the mortgage industry?
I began my career in the mortgage industry 17 years ago in 1999.
Q: How did you advance your career?
I recall a conversation I had with my father shortly after I started in the mortgage industry. He told me, “In order to be successful you need to treat every morning as if you are unemployed. Go earn your client’s business, each day, every day.” I have never forgotten it.
Honesty and integrity have always been imperative to me and I feel it’s most important to treat each client even better than I would expect to be treated as a consumer. Exceeding my clients’ expectations is my number one priority and in doing so, I earn referrals. I always strive to set myself apart from other lenders and to provide service above and beyond the norm. My business profile has been 100% referral-based since the day I started my career.
I also believe it’s very important that my clients and referral sources trust me completely. I want everyone involved to fully comprehend why I may recommend one loan product over another. Explaining why a certain loan is more beneficial to their short- and long-term goals helps establish the trust factor with clients.
Q: What motivational factors, goals and/or opportunities helped you get where you are today?
When I began my career, I was given zero leads, zero assistance, minimal training and very little guidance. There was no formal training known to me at that time and no formal licensing like today’s Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry. I learned as I went, and studied the different types of loan options. I worked incredibly hard to learn and apply conventional, FHA, USDA, and VA loan guidelines for my clients, even those with challenged credit. I took the time to never take the easy route for a client. I never wrote mortgage loans for consumers that I would not write for myself.
I learned quite early in my career that it’s very important to treat every client equally, no matter the loan size. Many of my past clients with the smallest loans have been my best referral sources in future years. The clients with smaller loans have also been some of my most loyal clients over the years and have given me the opportunity to finance new homes they’ve purchased, construction projects, investment properties, and second homes or cottages. When a client returns to me for another mortgage or refers a family, friend, co-worker or client, there is no greater compliment.
Q: What are some of your most notable career accomplishments as a loan officer?
I will never forget was purchase transaction for my client who was a disabled veteran suffering from PTSD. Due to his condition, his doctor directed him to move out of the city to a rural home. This loan was anything but easy, as my client wanted to raise alpacas as a healing mechanism. This presented many problems, since Veterans Affairs (VA) loans do not insure working farms, or farmland that has any evidence of previously being a working farm.
The house my client found had several barns, but the property clearly had been farmed in the past. It took several months of patience, as well as coordination and communication between the VA Housing Opportunities Commission, the VA medical center and the lender’s underwriting department. In the end, I was able to get a complicated loan approved for my client. Who was the lender for this loan? Ross Mortgage Corporation.
Q: Why did you choose to join the Ross Mortgage lending team?
I was approached by Ross Mortgage almost a year prior to joining the team. At the time I was not seeking employment and was very content in my career and happy with my current employer. After numerous conversations and persistence on Ross Mortgage’s part, I eventually agreed to spend a day in the corporate office and visit several satellite offices to see how operations worked. I was very impressed with each and every individual I met and was impressed by the family-like atmosphere. It was very apparent to me that all parties took great pride in their work and worked diligently to build each other up, assist, encourage and help each other in any way possible.
Q: In terms of career opportunities, what sets Ross apart from other employers?
Ross Mortgage Corporation is a privately owned company with strong leadership and an impeccable reputation, both as an employer and as a lender. I cannot image a better company to be associated with. I’ve worked very hard throughout my career to maintain an excellent reputation, and I’m very proud to brand myself with Ross.
Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
There are many aspects of my job that I love, and I honestly look forward to going to work every day. I love it when I can tell a client they are “pre-approved” to buy their first home. I also love the friendships and trust I build with clients, seeing their eyes light up or hearing the escalation and excitement in their voices when they hear their purchase agreement has been accepted. The most enjoyable part of my job is personally attending the closings and witnessing the client’s joy in closing on a home purchase or refinance transaction.
Q: What can other lending professionals do to be more successful in their careers and what advice would you give to someone who wants to take their career as a loan officer to the next level?
I would advise a loan officer looking to expand their career to establish both short- and long-term goals. From there: plan, work, assess, repeat. I also suggest establishing a mentor relationship with someone in the industry. A mentor can provide numerous benefits, including the sharing of experiences and advice, providing direction and knowledge, aiding in marketing ideas and plans, and encouraging new loan officers in various career building opportunities.