To reach the top of the profession, mortgage originators usually need to take years to learn the business and develop relationships. For Jeffrey Hawks, it took one year.
Hawks landed at No. 33 in Scotsman Guide’s annual Top Originator rankings for Top VA Volume in 2017, his first full year as an originator.
“I think it was just a good combination of getting lucky and just meeting the right folks at the right time,” Hawks says. “I got along with a lot of agents really fast. We just clicked. Everything went right.”
He also relied on his family’s support. His mom, Tammy Frith, has been an originator for 30 years. His brother, Dustin, has been in the profession for nine years.
Hawks, who works for Guild Mortgage in Cumming, Georgia, learned early that he needed to put in the hours.
“I think in this business a lot of people tend to not be too successful because they just don’t answer their phone,” Hawks says. “You’ve got to get out there, and you’ve got to meet face to face. You’ve got to be consistent.”
Hawks initially avoided entering the profession, mainly because he saw how hard originating loans can be. “I saw my mom working seven days a week and ungodly hours, and I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to do that,’” he says.
After graduating from high school in 2000, Hawks went to college and then joined the Navy. When he got out, Hawks was hired at Home Depot and became a department manager at a Virginia store.
Home Depot offered him other management jobs, but he would have had to move away from his family to follow that career path. Instead, he returned to Georgia to follow them into the mortgage industry.
In 2015, he started as a loan assistant to six mortgage originators, setting up files and answering phones. He was indecisive about whether he should go into sales or operations, but chose sales with encouragement from coworkers and family.
Hawks received his license in 2016, made that first sale and then celebrated with a family dinner at Pampas Steakhouse near his home.
“You went from not making anything and then you’re seeing all of these big checks,” Hawks says. “Yeah, it was an adrenaline rush.”
The competitive nature of the mortgage business took hold. He’d watch the numbers at the end of the month. That pushed Hawks to work on building new relationships and writing prequalification offers that were guaranteed, not just “let’s see what happens.”
“For me, I try to do everything I can not to push an online application,” Hawks says. “I try to have a personal touch with everybody, especially on that first phone call because that’s where you bond with the customer and cement that relationship.”
Last year was a struggle, however. Hawks lost a builder client early and thought he might only do half of the business of his previous year. Things improved as the year advanced, and he got back on track to reach the same level of success in 2018 as he had in 2017.
He credits the support of his coworkers, family and Guild Mortgage for his success.
“I can call the No. 1 person at the top of this company right now, and they would pick up the phone and talk to me and help me out with any situation or a problem I have,” Hawks says. “The support is absolutely just amazing.”