Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Michael Stallings

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Inside the Mind of a Top Producer-Michael Stallings

Article excerpt

MOTIVATED BY THE RESPONSIBILITY to impact people's lives and their legacy, Michael Stallings is a senior mortgage banker and top producer for HomeBridge Financial Services Inc., with a home base in greater Atlanta. He began his mortgage career 13 years ago at XINNIX, The Mortgage Academy, after deciding the mortgage industry was a possible career path.

Because he is known in his market as a loan officer who has an efficient process that can be counted on, Stalling's clients come out closed and happy.

So what makes his process so successful? I spoke with Stallings to find out about his business practices and what makes him a top producer.

Stallings first began his career with one primary business source--three builders in Atlanta. Although he knew it was not the best practice for long-term sustainable business, it was easy and efficient.

To get to where he is now, Stallings knew he had to change how he got business. He made the decision in 2009 to diversify his business not only with builders and Realtors[R], but geographically.

Stallings currently obtains business in five markets--Atlanta; Warner-Robbins, Georgia; Columbus, Georgia; Huntsville, Alabama; and Birmingham, Alabama. Stallings says, I "work in a lot of different markets intentionally, so if one is up or down, our business is sustainable month-to-month."

So besides diversifying his geographic territory, I spoke to Stallings about the number of referral partners that send him business. He says his primary source of business is six key referral partners (key targets). In addition, he has 20 other referral partners that send him business.

He also considers any past client a key referral partner. These past clients are not redoing their loans, but instead referring Stallings and his team to new customers. Stallings commented that some months the key referral partner category of past clients is his top source.

To drive referrals, he employs two simple but strong business practices--create trust during the first transaction, and have a process to help people understand what they are doing and why. Plus, at every step in the process, he talks about referrals. There's that "process" word again.

I wanted to find out more about his process. There are two main steps--discovery and documentation. Throughout both steps, Stallings is adamant that he and his team provide communication that is transparent, clear and timely.

Stallings handles every client's discovery phase. Because of his various geographic markets and volume, he can't meet a client in person but has a 15-to-30-minute dedicated phone call. More than 80 percent of the time, the client has completed an application prior to the phone call. Then during the phone call, Stallings explains, he asks a lot of questions, builds a connection and gives his advice. That way, when he moves the client to the next phase, one of his team members has a good feel for the client.

In the documentation phase, his team of one loan officer assistant and two processors work through eight milestones. Throughout the milestones, the buyer and any other needed players are sent templated emails that include information on what phase they are in, any needed information or documents and why they are necessary.

Stallings says the No. 1 question in the mortgage business is why we need certain documents, and he feels "the more people know, the better decisions people can make."

Stallings makes sure his system educates his clients on the process and expectations. He also tells clients upfront that if he doesn't answer the phone, it's because he's on the phone with another client trying to understand their needs--like he's doing with the current caller at the moment. …

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