NMP Loan Legends: ACC Mortgage – NMP
Twenty years ago Robert Senko founded a small mortgage origination store called All Credit Considered Mortgage Inc. (ACC Mortgage), just outside of Washington, DC Initially, the company was only licensed in three states and sold mortgages directly to consumers. Over time, Senko has built the company into a thriving business, serving borrowers in 25 states by offering products other lenders wouldn’t.
Senko spoke to us from the company’s head office in Rockville, MD, about the changes he has seen in the mortgage industry and the opportunities for brokers and loan officers serving borrowers today.
Thrive in a turbulent industry
Many would probably agree that 1999 was a great time to start a mortgage business. With falling interest rates and rising real estate values, the industry was exploding. Anyone lending at the time likely saw their volume triple or more as the national lending volume exploded, traditionally growing from less than $ 1,000 billion a year to over $ 3 trillion in 2007.
When Senko was named our Mortgage Advisor of the Month last October, he told us how he weathered the historic downturn.
“Until January 2007, I began to hear and feel certain issues in the capital market that reminded me of the late 90s when Long Term Capital Management collapsed and good companies apparently closed. overnight, ”Senko said. “On instinct, I sold all of the loans in our portfolio, moved my personal fortune from stocks to cash and left the private money sector. Six weeks later New Century collapsed, then came the days of the Implode-A-Meter and the daily news of business closures.
When it was all over, some of the biggest B&C lenders in the country were gone, but Senko’s ACC mortgage was ready to lend.
There were still tough times ahead, but over the next decade Senko would lead an evolving business in an industry and market rocked by their own changes.
Senko’s take on an evolving mortgage business
When ACC first launched, it was mostly a non-QM lender, but it was also primarily a retail store. After the crash, Senko discovered that his company still had capital to lend. So he started to share what he knew about these non-compliant borrowers with brokers and started his business in the wholesale lending business.
Today, ACC employs a team of wholesale account managers, who build relationships with brokers, and they are looking to reach 50, and only 50, account managers. According to Robert, ACC is the oldest non-QM lender and they don’t want to be the biggest, they just want to be the best. Less is more in Robert’s opinion.
“When I was an account manager in the mid-1990s, I put on my jacket and tie, got in my car and drove around Rockville Pike, visiting mortgage brokers,” said Senko.
Back then, there were so many mortgage brokerages that it was easy to stay busy visiting them. “Those days are behind us,” he said.
Today, Senko says his successful EAs do up to 80% of their work on their cell phones, with many working wherever they are. Most of this time is answering brokers’ questions and helping them structure non-QM trades.
It’s not just Senko’s AEs working remotely these days. ACC has a team of processors, underwriters, and disclosure officers working from its headquarters, but the company also has remote employees, which the company didn’t do in the beginning.
“Even loan officers are no longer nailed to their desks,” Senko said. “They work remotely from their homes. So it’s a big change that we’ve seen because people don’t work from a single location. And that’s something I never really expected just a few years ago. “
Offer differentiation for the broker and loan officer
What hasn’t changed for brokers is that the market is just as competitive for third-party originators as it was when Senko started his business. While he remains committed to brokers, saying they give consumers more financing options, he says brokers and loan officers need a way to differentiate themselves in the market.
“The financial world works best when you have a diversification of funding sources,” Senko said. “We don’t want the government to be the sole provider of mortgage financing for the United States.
Senko says, “Having unique private lenders is not only good for borrowers, it’s good for the industry because it mitigates risk and protects the system. I think it really helps the market to spread any risk, but also to create products that are manageable, affordable and ultimately safe for both consumer and investors. “
But the real benefit of a diverse financial services industry is felt in the broker’s shop. “Whether it’s a broker or a loan officer working for a business, they really are entrepreneurs. Having companies like ACC Mortgage gives them more tools for their belt that they can use when meeting a potential client.
Senko remembers his early days as a loan officer, working for a financial institution that only offered a limited menu of financial products. He found it frustrating because there were so many borrowers he just couldn’t serve. One of his goals with ACC Mortgage was to combat this type of commoditization and offer a wider range of financing options.
“For so many borrowers, it’s about finding the cheapest price and the fastest closing,” Senko said, but added that it won’t work for all borrowers and it won’t serve the broker. . “The products we offer allow brokers to differentiate themselves. We do not have a DU / LP type subscription engine. These loans are really manual. You have to review them, you have to subscribe and review them manually. It’s not just a few keystrokes on the computer and here is your approval. This is why it is important to work with an experienced non-QM lender.
This gives the broker the opportunity to be a true partner for referral sources and to help borrowers who do not fit into the box provided by government investors. But it also requires a trained loan originator who knows how to write non-QM loans. To help loan officers new to the matter, ACC officers offer a “white glove” service for their first loans to put them at ease.
Lessons for the broker
But what does that mean, exactly? We asked Senko what he would say to brokers with no experience in the non-QM space but who wanted to start selling these products.
“Set the right expectations from the first moment,” he said. “I think the struggle loan officers have had to adjust to the non-QM world is that they expect the deal to be a GSE type transaction and it just isn’t the deal. case. It’s a good old fashioned manual loan. Sometimes it’s easier for guys like me. I was trained when we were doing 1003 manuscripts!
Senko says he learned things from a manual point of view, but admits that today it’s a bit of a lost art. But it is not a requirement to do this job. Loan officers just need to partner with the right non-QM lender.
“As they pivot and start working on non-QM after a GSE type loan career, it requires a lot more attention to detail,” Senko said. “Today’s brokers are quick studies. We help them understand. “
He says the loan officers his company has trained are smart, adaptable and enterprising. He says today’s brokers are nimble.
To be successful, he trains them to set expectations up front, with the real estate agent and the client, telling them, “This is a loan we can do, but we need a lot more detail to do it. . This will require a certain level of work.
Senko says brokers who learn how to do this set the tone for the relationship and find that people won’t be frustrated with the process.
The secret of success
Senko says the key to brokerage success is managing expectations for a better borrower experience. But what about his own secret to success?
“I think my secret has been transparency,” he replied. “You have to let people see your vulnerabilities by being honest. I think that’s why I have people who have been with me and my business for over 20 years.
Loyalty occurs when there is trust, Senko said. It’s something people want to find, in the people they do business with and in the companies they work for.
“It’s amazing for me to hear so many stories from people who come to us from other companies about how they’ve been basically lied to,” Senko said. “I tell people the good, the bad and the ugly.”
At ACC, determining what a good loan is comes down to three basic rules. Senko calls them his rules for good loans, and it boils down to a simple three-point lending philosophy that he says remains as relevant today as it was when he started this business ago. 20 years…
►First, the repayment capacity: Let’s prove their income before lending. It was before TRID.
►Second, the skin in the game: Borrower and lender. If the loan doesn’t work, everyone must be in pain.
►Third, benefit the borrower: It motivates everything we do. Are we making a good loan for the borrower?
If everyone understands these three things and you stay transparent throughout the process, success is almost guaranteed, Senko says.
“I think that’s my greatest asset, this full transparency, whether with a client or a broker,” Senko said.
Further emphasizing the point of transparency, the company sends out an introductory letter from Senko himself with each conditional loan approval. If the broker has a problem or concern, they can email Senko directly and they will respond to them personally. Brokers appreciate the responsibility of the man at the top.