Thad Musser of Atlantic Coast Mortgage ranked No. 64 on the 2015 Top Producers list.
Thad Musser of Atlantic Coast Mortgage ranked No. 64 on the 2015 Top Producers list.

Nearly five years ago, Thad Musser and his wife faced a tremendous challenge when one of their twin sons was born with a number of serious medical conditions. But with the help of specialists at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Logan Musser has made tremendous progress in his recovery.

Since then, Thad Musser has expressed his gratitude for their efforts in a number of ways. Little did he know it would help him bond with customers who have faced similar experiences.

Musser, a vice president and senior loan officer at Atlantic Coast Mortgage in Fairfax, Va., has been in the mortgage business for more than 13 years. Before joining Atlantic Coast in March 2013, he was a senior loan officer at First Savings Mortgage in Tysons Corner, Va.

Last year, Musser originated 144 mortgages for a combined dollar volume of $60 million – putting him at No. 64 on the 2015 Top Producer rankings list compiled by National Mortgage News.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your most creative or successful marketing strategy. How did you come up with the idea? What were the results?

I didn't think of it as a marketing strategy when it started, but after Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., saved our son's life, my wife and I have made a commitment to make a donation to Children's National in the name of every client that closes a loan with me.

We've also set up a website that chronicles our son's journey working with Children's National and link to it on my work website. I came up with the idea with nothing but altruistic intentions because it seemed the right thing for me and my family to do.

But it's also helped humanize me to potential clients, many of whom had children with similar experiences. This has led to many other efforts tied to Children's National and ultimately helped us raise money and donations for the hospital and of course, the children who are its patients.

What's unique about the local market you serve and what do you do to address those needs?

The Greater D.C. metropolitan area has a large number of veterans. After portfolio lending collapsed following the Great Recession, I fully embraced learning everything I could about Veterans Affairs-backed loans to better serve my market and those who have served our country.

In the early years, I found this required speaking publicly, often, to dispel old thoughts and misconceptions amongst real estate professionals who had been resistant to advising their clients to accept contracts on their home with VA financing. Today VA loans account for a substantial portion of my pipeline and I am happy to serve those and their families who have sacrificed for all.

Tell us about an unusual or difficult loan scenario and what you did to ensure a successful closing.

With many high-ranking federal jobs based in the greater D.C. area, I saw a trend in clients working for the State Department, Foreign Service and similar agencies who were excited to return to the U.S. and buy a home after a long stay abroad.

These borrowers often find they're unable to honor the term of a deed of trust that requires them to occupy the property within 60 days of the loan closing. That leads many lenders to tell borrowers in this situation that they have to buy their home as an investment property because of this.

However, I've made an effort to thoroughly understand second home financing guidelines so I can help these borrowers line up the right property to meet their wants and needs, while still provide the most advantageous financing terms.

What do you know about the mortgage business now that you wished you knew when you started out?

That this truly is a sales position. I struggled in my first couple years in originations. I went into it thinking being purely analytical would be my greatest differentiator, only to learn over time that though that's important, I also had to embrace the fact that it's a sales and marketing job as well.

Who is someone in your life, personally or professionally, who helps contribute to your success?

Easy. My co-captain in life and wife of over 13 years. To be successful in this career, one must fully commit and provide unparalleled accessibility. Buying and financing homes is not a 9-to-5 endeavor and it often requires working long hours on a consistent basis.

For every extra hour I put in at work, that is an extra hour my wife needs to pick up managing the household and our kids. Together we are a team and I can only be successful knowing she is working as hard if not harder keeping our family running.

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