Residential Magazine

2022 Top Women Originators

Despite unique challenges, the top producers were more successful than ever

By Hannah Darden

Women in the mortgage industry are tough as nails. Outnumbered and faced with unique workplace challenges, these women work hard to be seen, represented and achieve success. Each year, they hold their own in Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators rankings, competing and succeeding alongside men in an industry that was, for a long time, a boys club.

To honor their impressive work in a dedicated space, Scotsman Guide produces an annual ranking of the Top Women Originators in the industry. This year, this group was busier than ever at work while navigating the distinctive challenges posed to women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women in finance are more likely than men to report feeling burned out, but they don’t always feel like they can ask for support when they need it, according to McKinsey & Co.’s 2021 Women in the Workplace report. During the pandemic, women also have been more likely to take on additional responsibilities (especially child care) while working. In the report, one in three women said that they considered downshifting or leaving their careers due to excessive stress.
Despite the challenges facing them, the women in the following pages had a banner year in 2021. Last year, of course, was remarkably successful for most mortgage originators due to healthy demand, rising home prices and low interest rates. The women on this list saw significant increases in their 2021 production numbers, equating to the highest dollar volumes ever seen in the Top Women Originators rankings.
Only two years ago, the top volume among all women originators was $329 million. In this year’s rankings, 17 women exceeded that figure. Last year, two women broke the $500 million mark for the first time. This year, three women cleared this hurdle, and one went far above and beyond to break records.
Returning to first place is Risha Kilaru of Guaranteed Rate, who took second place in 2021 after two years atop the list. Kilaru increased her production by 54% last year and became the first woman to exceed $600 million in originations with a record-shattering $834.8 million.
Joanna Yu of U.S. Bank jumped from No. 8 in 2021 to No. 2 in 2022. She originated $520.1 million in loans, a 40% increase from the 2020 production year. Yinan Sun of Austin First Mortgage rounds out the top three with $514.9 million in originations.
Kelly Malatesta of First United Mortgage Group took fourth place at $455.8 million, rising from No. 7 last year. Dianne Crosby of Guaranteed Rate kept her spot at No. 5, closing $455 million in loans for an 18% increase in originations. The most dramatic leap was made by Hanh Dao of Loan Factory Inc., who rose 31 spots to No. 9 by doing $388 million in business, a 58% year-over-year increase.
Although only the top 300 producers are printed in this month’s magazine, more than 2,100 hardworking women qualified for our rankings this year. Congratulations to all, and may this new year bring you success, peace and prosperity.

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MBA networking organization galvanizes women

At a Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) conference in 2015, Marcia Davies decided to host a networking luncheon for women. She had seen women continually outnumbered by men in the industry, and she noticed that the women at MBA conferences didn’t seem to know each other. A luncheon, she thought, would be a great way for these women to meet, network and socialize.

“I invited 75 women and 150 showed up,” Davies said. “That was my inkling that I was onto something.”

That initial meeting turned into a regular event, then blossomed into mPower (MBA Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach), the trade group’s resource for the empowerment of women in real estate finance. More than 30,000 women have engaged with mPower over the past seven years, Davies said.

The group offers regular networking events at MBA conferences, an annual full-day women’s summit and a free online platform with thousands of users. With a social networking aspect, mPower also offers a resource library, webinars and a monthly video interview series with guests like FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Carli Lloyd and legendary actress Rita Moreno.

Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, Davies is excited for a return to in-person events. At the mPower summit this past October, 400 women attended. “It was fabulous,” Davies said. “A lot of these women stayed connected virtually … but nothing is better than being there together, that energy and that human connection.”

Davies said that she’s seen a lot of positive change in the industry since 2015 and that companies now understand that investment in women is valuable.

“I think it’s gotten better,” she said. “I see more women moving up the ladder. I see organizations talking openly about having more women at the table. … Unfortunately, the issues that women face are not solving as quickly as we’d like, so there’s always a lot to talk about.”


Marcia Davies

Chief operating officer, MBA

Women gain leadership roles but remain underrepresented


Women make up a majority of the real estate sector workforce — 51.6% in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But only about 41% of mortgage originators are women, according to data from the Stratmor Group in 2019, the most recent year available.

More recent research from career resources website Zippia indicates that while 44% of loan officers are women, only 32% of brokers are women. Zippia also reported that female loan officers make only 88 cents for every dollar men in the same position earn. Female brokers make 90 cents on the dollar of their male counterparts.

McKinsey & Co.’s 2021 Women in the Workplace report found that the representation of women and women of color in the financial-services industry has increased across all career stages above entry level since 2018. Even with this increase, however, they are still underrepresented in leadership roles, which is especially true for women of color.

While women make up 52% of the entry-level jobs in financial services, representation declines at each step up the ladder. For women of color, this gap is the most glaring as 21% of entry-level employees in the study were women of color, but only 4% of C-suite executives were. For comparison, white women comprised 31% of entry-level positions and 23% of C-suite positions.

Single women continue to outpace men as homebuyers


Single women purchased 19% of all homes in 2021, making them the largest group of homebuyers after married couples, who represented 60% of the market. Single men and unmarried couples each accounted for 9% of home purchases last year, according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Although single women buy more homes than single men, they reported making more financial sacrifices to do so, NAR reported. While 42% of men said they made no financial sacrifices to afford a home, only 32% of women did so. On average, the women surveyed had lower incomes than men, bought less expensive homes, purchased homes later in life and were more likely than men to purchase homes due to family obligations. Single women reported higher rates of having children living with them, purchased more multigenerational homes (for siblings, adult children or parents) and reported a greater desire to live close to family and friends.

Despite single women accounting for nearly one in five homebuyers, many single women believe that homeownership is out of their reach. According to a 2021 Freddie Mac survey of single women, 60% said they did not believe they would ever be able to afford a home. Eight in 10 respondents indicated that they did not have enough money saved for a downpayment or closing costs.

Despite burnout, women make workplace strides


McKinsey & Co.’s most recent Women in the Workplace report found that while representation of women is improving across all levels of the corporate world, women are increasingly stressed in their jobs. Nearly half of senior-level women identified as feeling frequently burned out while one in three women surveyed said they had considered leaving the workforce or scaling back their careers.

Still, 59% of women in financial services reported receiving increased support in 2021. This is a sign that companies are taking note of burnout and work-related challenges.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a major cultural shift has happened across the corporate world, and an overwhelming majority of companies have reported new priorities tied to employee wellness and improved diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). But women also are leading the charge on these workplace initiatives and spending more time than men to provide support for their team members. Senior-level women are twice as likely as senior-level men to dedicate weekly time to DEI projects and initiatives.

Women continue to face a “broken rung” in the corporate ladder as only 86 women are promoted to a management role for every 100 men. But there are signs of progress: Across the financial-services sector, the share of women at the C-suite level grew from 18% in 2018 to 27% in 2021.


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