Residential Magazine

2022 State Champions: Featured Originators

Expert originators from across the nation share their stories

By Hannah Darden

Each December, Scotsman Guide publishes its State Champions rankings. These rankings spotlight the top originator from each state, plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico. Read more and see the full State Champions rankings here

This year, Scotsman Guide chose eight State Champions from across the nation to share a slice of life in their local markets. These are their stories. 

Alaska: Sasha Loyd

Guaranteed Rate

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 198
Total Dollar Volume: $61.9 million
Sasha Loyd worked her way up from the very bottom of the mortgage business to become Alaska’s state champion. Originally an assistant who moved into compliance, Loyd worked as a processor for years. She finally took the leap into origination when the woman she worked for left the state and pushed Loyd to take over her book of business.
“I was processing my own loans and just worked really, really hard,” she said. “Steadily, my volume started picking up — it was good communication, things were getting done fast, I was on top of it. I won the hearts of many agents who trust me to get the job done.”
She said the Alaskan market is uniquely challenging because many buyers have high debt-to-income ratios, lower credit scores and atypical employment (like seasonal fishermen and oil workers).
“I’m known as ‘Captain Save a Loan’ up here,” Loyd said. “I take on the borrowers that people don’t want to take on. That’s where the processing background comes in. I’m good at restructuring, telling the story differently. It’s all about presentation. I’m not a vanilla loan officer. I take on the hard stuff.”

Idaho: Mandi Feely

Premier Mortgage Resources

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 581
Total Dollar Volume: $189.3 million
Mandi Feely has had a front-row seat to Idaho’s explosion in population and popularity over the past few years. Born and raised in Boise, Feely cherishes her home state.
“Homegrown is a definition for me,” Feely said of growing up in the Gem State. “My favorite part about Idaho is the people, the culture. I’m hoping that as we’ve grown, that hasn’t changed.”
In 2020 and 2021, Idaho led the nation in population growth. At its peak two years ago, it saw 320 people move into the state for every 100 who moved out. Feely said Idaho’s high quality of life and lower cost of living was attractive to remote workers in places like California, the state that fueled one of every three moves into Idaho during the pandemic.
“That was a benefit to our market, and that was also a detriment because it increased our purchase prices,” Feely said. “Those that were hurt were the entry-level, first-time buyers.”
While this year has been more difficult than last, Feely said her purchase business is still going strong. She attributed much of her success to her direct support team.
“I couldn’t do what I do without Team Mandi,” Feely said. “The ladies on my team are fabulous. They really do uplift me and make me feel better. They come to work for we, not me, every day.”

Wyoming: Eric Burba

CrossCountry Mortgage LLC

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 276
Total Dollar Volume: $151 million
Eric Burba moved to Jackson, Wyoming, in 2009. When he arrived, the average income in Teton County, home of Jackson, only marginally exceeded the Wyoming average. But since 2019, Teton County has become the wealthiest in the nation by a landslide. A massive inflow of the ultrawealthy has massively changed the housing market — and Burba’s business.
“There’s a lot of wealth here and a lot of very big loans — a lot of jumbos,” Burba said. “So, my unit count can be sometimes half that of another top producer, but we’ll both do $150 million.”
Burba said that idyllic Jackson has followed in the footsteps of Aspen, Colorado, another trendy apres-ski destination for the rich. The money, he said, has significantly raised the prices of existing homes and has brought in builders to create new upscale subdivisions.
Many of these high net worth individuals have very complex tax returns. Burba’s team has learned the guidelines and specializes in how to lend to these borrowers.
“Getting into jumbo loans and self-employed (borrowers) is a recipe for disaster for some,” Burba said. “Knowing how to navigate those waters is one of the greatest strengths to have in this market and one of the things that’s very unique about lending here.”

Kansas: Phil Scaglia

First State Bank of St. Charles

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 481
Total Dollar Volume: $190.3 million
Phil Scaglia is proudly born and raised in Kansas City, straddling the state line between Kansas and Missouri his whole life. This intimate familiarity with the local market is a massive boon for his mortgage origination work, and Scaglia’s experience led him to close $190.3 million across 481 loans last year.
“I’m pretty much a lifer,” Scaglia said. “It’s helpful to be from a place and stay in a place for a long period of time. People understand who you are, what you’re about and the kind of business you do.”
Scaglia said that 2020 and 2021 saw influxes of Midwest-born people moving back home from places like New York, Chicago and California. Kansas City, he said, offers these buyers a lower cost of living, a family-friendly environment and more bang for their buck in the housing market without losing big-city amenities.
“The arts, the culture, it’s attracting so many people that are moving back here,” he said. “They grew up here, left for school or jobs, and we’re seeing this renaissance of people that are moving back to the Midwest.”
In the difficult market of 2022, Scaglia said he has felt lucky to work for a bank that can be creative with loan products, including an adjustable-rate program and portfolio loans that have proven popular this year. “We’re trying to find niche products that we can do right now that other lenders can’t,” Scaglia said. “We can do things that are outside the box. If I tell you it’s going to work, it’s going to work.”

Wisconsin: Jim Pope

Wintrust Mortgage

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 543
Total Dollar Volume: $209 million
All originators must find niches to survive. Jim Pope found a fun one: He does some of his business lending to collegiate and professional football coaches.
“Many of the Division I and professional football teams have a coach that is a client of mine,” Pope said. “The coaches’ stays are only three to five years; they’re constantly moving around. That’s why it’s been helpful that I lend in all 50 states.”
Although he does some business outside of his home state, about 80% to 85% is local. Pope, who is based in Madison, said the draw of Wisconsin is the Midwest hospitality, the abundance of outdoors activities, and stability in the job and housing markets.
“I’ll ask people that move here from the coasts, and even the South, ‘Why did you choose Wisconsin?’, and I always hear that we’re very welcoming here,” Pope said. “Madison is unique — it’s got the University of Wisconsin, it’s got state government, it’s got Epic, which is one of the largest medical software companies in the world. … It’s very insulated from recessions. We never see real estate values drop here.”
A lot of Pope’s business comes from the connections he’s built with Realtors, but he’s also deeply invested in his community, dedicating time to local organizations, churches and the Dane County branch of the Salvation Army. “I was honestly planning to retire … but this job gets easier every year and I really still like doing it,” he said. “This is a very satisfying business.”

New Hampshire: Allyson Kreycik

Guaranteed Rate

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 715
Total Dollar Volume: $361.9 million
While the majority of New Hampshire is a sea of forested hills and mountains inland from the Atlantic Ocean, it does have an idyllic, if tiny, coastline of only 18 miles. That’s where Allyson Kreycik lives and originates loans for buyers from all walks of life.
“I work with everyone, from buyers who are purchasing mobile homes to millionaires who are buying their third mansion,” Kreycik said. “I do higher-cost loans than probably most loan officers in the country, just because it’s such an expensive place to live… but I don’t care what the loan amount is. I want to help as many people as I can.”
When Kreycik first moved to New England after growing up in South Dakota and attending the University of Nebraska, she didn’t know anyone in the mortgage industry. So, she targeted builders and developers who were putting in condominiums and subdivisions around New England. Twenty years later, she said, that’s still the niche she focuses on.
This year has been a difficult one and Kreycik said she had to refer some loan requests to smaller banks that could give clients better options. But the downturn has given her time to focus on her No. 1 priority — her family.
“I have a great husband and three young children who are the priority in my life. … I’m able to be a mom first, and still be a successful loan originator and help people. I’m very blessed and I’m very thankful.”

Mississippi: Don Blaize

CMG Financial

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 454
Total Dollar Volume: $90.8 million
Don Blaize was born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He moved around the country a bit, but he couldn’t stay away, and he moved back to the region in 1998 to enjoy the beautiful beaches, lower cost of living and slower pace of life.
People are now following in his footsteps, and Blaize said the coast is seeing a lot of migration from colder, more expensive states. In addition to its popularity as a vacation-home destination for New Orleans residents, who are just over an hour’s drive to the west, it’s created plenty of demand for mortgages. The affordability of Mississippi’s “secret coast” also is a huge draw for buyers.
“You can get a beachfront house here in Mississippi for $700,000,” Blaize said. “People are moving here left and right from the cold states. It’s affordable here, which is why I’m confident this market will continue to be healthy over the next few years.”
In addition to wealthier folks from New Orleans and other areas, Blaize also works with a lot of Mississippi locals, many of whom have nontraditional jobs, are first-time homebuyers or veterans, or are stationed on the local military bases. “Our borrowers can be a little bit more difficult to get financed because of the industries that are down here,” Blaize said. “But Mississippi is just full of good, happy people.”

Kentucky: Rod Davis

Nexa Mortgage

2021 Production Numbers
Closed Loans: 372
Total Dollar Volume: $133.2 million
Rod Davis was seven years into a career in electrical engineering when he realized he wasn’t happy. His best friend worked in the mortgage business, and invited him to come by the office and see what the job was like. The company was offering a two-week training course and Davis happened to have a two-week vacation coming up, so he took the course and the leap into loan origination.
“I won’t say it was the easiest two weeks, but I just felt like it was something I could do,” Davis said. “It was easy for me to explain numbers and benefits in everyday layman’s terms. What scared me to death was being on the phones. … I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
That was 19 years ago, and Davis has been originating loans in Kentucky ever since. He said the Bluegrass State’s charm is in its friendly, hospitable people, and the low cost of living lures in homebuyers. But it’s not without its challenges. Homes in the state don’t appreciate as quickly as in other places, and Davis said many hardworking, blue-collar Kentuckians are challenging to get approved.
He recently moved from the retail channel to become an independent broker, and he hopes that the move will open new avenues for his business and clients. “It opened my mind to a lot of different things,” Davis said. “There are types of financing that I didn’t know existed. … The ability to help out more people is a huge advantage in the brokering world.”


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