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As declining origination volume continues to be the new norm, lender consolidation is becoming an industry trend. With a career of breaking down gender barriers, Mary Ann McGarry knows adaption is the means to survival.

McGarry is the CEO of Guild Mortgage, a San Diego-based lender that's been in business for over 56 years.

National Mortgage News asked McGarry five questions about her experience in the industry and her take on the originations market for 2019. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
By and large, the mortgage industry is "pale, male and stale," according to last year's MBA Chairman Dave Motley. How did you break in and what were your biggest obstacles getting to where you are today?
I got my start in the mortgage industry in internal audit with my background in public accounting. From the beginning of my career, I focused on the job and never on the fact that I was a woman. I'm very solution-oriented and learned quickly that when you can help the company improve efficiencies and/or profitability, you're always going to be noticed.

It's important to be confident in who you are and not intimidated. It's fairly common for women to be hesitant to ask for what they're worth salary-wise. Stand up for yourself and what you're worth.
What advice would you give other women aspiring to reach your heights?
The best advice I can give is to be confident, be collaborative and be the best at what you do. Stay focused on your goal and don't let people bring you down. There will always be someone who doesn’t think you’re capable of advancing to where you want to be, whether you're a woman or not. You can't let that be an excuse. Break down walls and barriers and focus on the end result.

The industry is constantly changing, so you have to be flexible and adaptable. The people who take initiative and come up with creative, outside-of-the-box solutions are those who succeed. If you can do those things, collaborate with others and focus on being solution-oriented, you will have a long career. Also, never think any task is below you. Whatever it takes to get the job completed. Be a team player.

I also recommend making a concerted effort to train someone below you so they can take your position and allow you to move up the ladder.
Nationally, mortgage originations have declined annually for four consecutive quarters. Do you see this trend continuing and why?
Yes, I do see originations continuing to decline. However, we'll start to see it stabilize a bit. The current market is incredibly competitive and we're seeing irrational pricing with very thin margins.

Small-to-midsized production companies have a difficult time surviving in this type of environment. I see a lot of lenders consolidating and exiting the business, while others will grow and capture more market share.

I believe we're in the new norm and this is what the market will look like for the foreseeable future. Originations will be more competitive and those who can adapt to the market change will survive.
The latest breakdown of mortgage applications showed a 58% split for purchases and 42% for refinances. How do you predict that split of originations goes in 2019?
We'll definitely see more purchase and less refi applications next year. As rates continue to rise, there will be less and less of a market for refinances. I'd estimate we'll see refis drop down to 30% to 35% of applications.

Overall, the market will look a lot like this year, but we could certainly see a shakeout of lenders. We'll see more consolidation and people either moving or exiting the business, which may free things up by the second half of the year.

I think you'll start to see more creative products as lenders compete for their piece of the pie in 2019. We'll see the private market come back and start to impact the competitive landscape, as well.
Millennials are in the prime age bracket for home buying, but are having trouble buying houses for a variety of reasons. How will the market shift to accommodate them? Is there anything they can do to help themselves?
Education and awareness on mortgage options will be key for millennials. Many millennials and other first-time homebuyers believe they need to have a lot of money to put down, but they don't. We'll see investors coming up with creative products and pilot programs to target millennials because they are a great market with huge potential.

At Guild, we offer the 3-2-1 Home program with The Home Depot, which provides first-time homebuyers with a low down payment option. Customers can purchase a home with as little as 3% down. Guild provides a $2,000 Home Depot Gift Card and a $1,500 grant that can be applied toward closing costs or increasing the down payment after the minimum 3% investment is met. We have several other bond and down payment assistance programs as well.

We'll likely start to see more affordable homes and affordable lending programs for millennials, too.