Northeast Top Producers view tech more favorably than counterparts

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A higher percentage of mortgage originators from the Northeast said their company met or exceeded their own expectations when it came to technology than their counterparts around the country.

About 57% of the Northeast-based respondents to the 2020 National Mortgage News Top Producers Survey gave the highest rated response to the statement (completely agree), versus a national average of 45%. Responses were ranked on a scale of one to seven, from completely disagree to completely agree.

The survey was conducted in January and February, before the coronavirus pandemic altered the path of the housing market. However, many of their answers are still relevant in the current market conditions.

Only 6% of Northeast respondents expressed any level of dissatisfaction with their company's technology offerings.

One originator posited that technology usage may be going too far.

"It seems the industry is shying away from the human-to-human interaction," said Craig Andriulli, a senior vice president at Bond Street Mortgage in Paramus, N.J. "Technology certainly has a place to help with certain aspects of the process, however I pride myself on being there for my clients when making such an important financial decision."

Andriulli noted that artificial intelligence technology has helped his company more efficiently access and sort data, freeing up staff to interface with clients more.

Better.com too, uses AI to help its originators, said Jennifer Sze Tho, a sales manager at the New York-based company.

"Better.com uses an internal tool called tinman [sic] that helps automate and streamline our workflows. [It] saves time and is very efficient," she said.

About 56% of Northeast loan officers said they completely agreed that their company met or exceeded their client's expectations when it came to technology. The national response was 43%.

"We are investing in search engine optimization to reach more customers in advance of their purchase. We are effectively utilizing a digital mortgage origination platform at point of sale,” said Michael Borodinsky, the producing branch manager at Caliber Home Loans' Edison, N.J. office.

For the leading originator in the Northeast [and No. 2 nationwide] Christopher Gallo, the most pressing thing needed in the pre-pandemic mortgage market was variation in program offerings — something the coronavirus has only exacerbated.

"The need for more flexible programs for the not-so-perfect situation along with some good old common sense," said Gallo, a mortgage originator at NJ Lenders in Little Falls, N.J. "The loosening of certain regulations could fix these issues."

The lack of programs that help borrowers with few assets on hand is another problem, said Michael DeRaspe, a private bank lending officer for KeyBank in Portland, Maine.

"Many first-time home buyers are struggling to save for a down payment. More down payment assistance programs would help, along with more 100% financing programs," he said.

With mortgage rates hitting record lows, originations have shot up. But it's always important to move the conversation with clients beyond the "what are your rates" question, said long-time mortgage industry veteran Melissa Cohn, executive vice president - private client group at Family First Funding.

"When I speak to a new borrower my goal is to get the client to understand that it is all about closing the deal and the rate is secondary," said Cohn, who founded her first mortgage company in 1985. "Rates go up and down and mortgages can be refinanced."

Here are the top 20 originators based in the Northeast:

Region rank Overall rank Name Company City, State Dollar volume Number of loans
1 2 Chris Gallo NJ Lenders Corp Little Falls, NJ $346,614,793 838
2 3 Roberto Espinoza Better.com New York, NY $335,636,375 997
3 7 Jennifer Tsang Better.com New York, NY $281,587,192 807
4 10 Jennifer Sze Tho Better.com New York, NY $262,678,643 806
5 11 Jonathan Casimir Better.com New York, NY $260,606,926 599
6 18 Erik Peterson Better.com New York, NY $225,586,288 414
7 19 Stephanie Amora Better.com New York, NY $223,946,134 670
8 22 Michael Borodinsky Caliber Home Loans Edison, NJ $209,900,000 646
9 23 Elijah Hu Better.com New York, NY $205,410,788 585
10 24 Jacob Ragusa Better.com New York, NY $194,943,775 615
11 27 Rachael McGurr Better.com New York, NY $178,469,933 492
12 28 Christopher Keelin Family First Funding Toms River, NJ $173,626,393 622
13 29 Michael DeRaspe KeyBank Portland, ME $172,460,000 274
14 36 Samuel Marx Better.com New York, NY $157,161,298 494
15 39 Catherine Haddad Atlantic Home Loans Parsippany, NJ $152,971,259 373
16 41 Melissa Cohn Family First Funding New York, NY $150,757,262 113
17 42 Michael Bornstein NewFed Mortgage Danvers, MA $149,379,963 405
18 46 David Kobreek Better.com New York, NY $145,294,009
19 48 Josh Nickerson Better.com New York, NY $139,035,385 447
20 49 Craig Andriulli Bond Street Mortgage Paramus, NJ $138,104,561 346
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