Branding himself and his website as "The Home Loan Expert" puts a lot of pressure on Ryan Kelley, the owner/partner of NewCastle Home Loans in St. Louis to back up that claim.
But Kelley has lived up to that standard, as for the second consecutive year, Kelley is in the top 20 mortgage originators in the National Mortgage News survey.
For 2013, he was the 18th most prolific originator, with production of $135 million from 821 loans.
Last year, Kelley originated 620 mortgages for a combined dollar volume of $110 million — putting him No. 14 on the 2015 Top Producers rankings.
While he did fewer loans, his average loan size grew to over $177,400 from $164,000 in 2013.
Kelley started in the mortgage business in 2004 as a loan officer for Shelter Mortgage. He became a loan officer for NewCastle in 2008 and one year later became an owner/partner in the firm. The company, besides the office in St. Louis, has branches in Chicago and Indianapolis.
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?
The measure of success of marketing is to keep growing. I have done direct mail pieces with me sitting in a bathtub of credit cards drowning in debt. I have also done radio and television commercials that are all unique to each listener.
What really makes these efforts successful is how they all work together and how the marketing evolves with the industry.
What's unique about the local market that you serve and what do you do to address those needs?
St. Louis is one of our markets that we work in and the consumers there have been very loyal. We do live endorsements with local radio personalities, as well as utilize sponsorships with area sports teams.
We also work hard to get really involved with supporting a number of charities doing some great work in the area.
Tell us about an unusual or difficult loan scenario and what you did to ensure a successful closing.
I had a couple that came in and wanted to combine their first and second mortgage. She was starting a new company and money was very tight.
The appraisal didn't come in high enough, so I could only do the first mortgage. They were really disappointed, even though they were saving some money like you would expect with a typical refinance transaction.
But while I was working on the subordination, I was able to negotiate the second mortgage for half of what they owed. The clients were ecstatic and she was able to start her new business.
What do you know about the mortgage business now that you wished you knew when you started out?
I wish someone would have told me to stop worrying about how much money to make on one loan and just close more loans.
Who is someone in your life, either personally or professionally, who helps contribute to your success?
Kyle Melvin, my director of operations, has been my right-hand man since the very beginning. His vast knowledge of vendor guidelines makes him a huge asset in our operation. With each hire we make, we only hire people that work incredibly hard and complete our team.
I also couldn't do any of this without my wife who has always supported me and makes me a better man every day.