Success Story: Rod Shuster, Journey Home Lending
Rod Shuster is the President of Journey Home Lending, a boutique mortgage planning firm. He’s a CPA and certified mortgage lender with more than 30 years in the mortgage and finance industry, who’s set out to re-imagine the mortgage origination process as an advocate for his clients. He creates custom home loans that are designed to optimize his customers’ financial well-being and “build wealth in the context of homeownership”. He’s a huge advocate for using technology to streamline the origination process, so that he can focus on advising his customers.
Our interview with Shuster provides helpful insight for any mortgage professional seeking to find value from an automated mortgage operation.
With over 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry, what are some of your greatest accomplishments and how did you make them happen?
After spending so much time in the mortgage industry, I would say that it’s really not about accomplishments, it’s about the relationships and the people that you meet along the way. It’s about the lives that you touch. It’s about helping others. It’s about being passionate about what goes on. I think that for me, this industry has been a wonderful way for me to give back, to touch other people’s lives and to really help make a difference. You get to see that happen when you help a family buy a home when you help several families buy homes when you help companies that help families buy homes. So for me, it’s about the journey more than it is about the actual accomplishments.
How did your journey shape your mortgage origination process?
I’ve been fortunate enough to have my own little broker shop for 12 years or so. I’ve run large companies, Fortune 500 company regions. I’ve run local mortgage companies, and I’ve run divisions of local mortgage companies. And from doing all of that, I’ve learned a great deal. You start developing a sense of what it is that you need to do provide the service for others that will help them along their way, which in turn, makes you more successful. And so, my background has allowed me to design a new mortgage company that uses different types of software, like Floify, to be more efficient and smarter with the way I do things.
So in developing my own systems and strategies, what I did was I came up with, “All right, what do I want to do as a lender for this part of my journey?” And one of the things that I wanted to do was help people build wealth in real estate faster and achieve financial independence. And the way to do that is to be able to show people that you know what you’re doing and that you can help them out with their particular piece of the puzzle, which is: they’re trying to buy a home, or they don’t know if they can buy a home, or they want to know if they can buy a home. So if you show them how to do that, but not just show them what rates and fees are, show them what it means over the life of a loan and how long it’s going to take them to recoup their investment and how their property is going to increase in value, then you become a part of a consultative process that helps add value to you your clients’ lives.
You’re a huge proponent of creating “custom home loans” and helping borrowers generate wealth within the context of home-ownership, can you tell me a bit more about what this means for you and your clients?
Loan originators today have a choice. They can decide if they want to provide rates and fees and just deliver that service to their clients, or they can be a little bit more than that. And if they want to be more than that, it’s more about delivering a professional service to the client and doing that with technology in the background that helps them run and be more efficient.
How does your workflow support this approach?
One of the ways that I do that is I have a solid system, a team of systems, that work together in harmony, one of which is Floify. What Floify allows me to do is provide a consistent flow for a mortgage transaction that is predictable and it’s expected, and my real estate partners and my clients can see that. By having that system run, and utilizing that system for my intake of information, to grab the client information and background and knowledge and pieces, it allows me to focus on other things, like creating advice, listening and understanding what my clients want. It means more time to provide that meaningful information to help them make the best decision for them and their family and, for my realtor and a financial advisor partners, for their clients. So it allows me the freedom to be a better loan originator, but it also allows me the ability to act, look, and feel more professional to my clients.
What kind of impact have you experienced since integrating Floify into your workflow?
There is no question that using a system like Floify allows the impact on my company and my time to be freed up to do other things, and still look professional, and still meet the client where they want to be met.
How has Floify enabled you to better serve borrowers with unique needs?
Floify helps me in four different ways. The first is my clients can go and do their application online at any time they want. They go to my website and click on the “apply now” and they’re in Floify.
The second thing that it does, is as soon as they’ve applied, they can upload their documents securely and encrypted to the document portal so we can download them to utilize all the information they’ve uploaded, while easily communicating about the process.
The third item that I use Floify for is to communicate to all the parties in the transaction, such as the real estate agent, the title company, or the borrowers themselves. Everybody can get notified about the milestones, so they know what’s going on with the status of the loan.
Then the fourth item is the lender letter. I use Floify with my realtor partners. Once we approve a pre-approve a client, I can send information through Floify and invite real estate partners so they can then create lender letters using my language, with the parameters I’ve set. Realtors can actually generate as many letters as they want on their own free will, at any time they want. That helps me as well.
All of these free up my time to go do what I’m best at, which is going to get other loans and creating new business.
Where do you think the mortgage industry is headed in the next 10 years and what do you plan to do to stay ahead?
What I see happening over the next five years, maybe ten years, is technology will continue to enter our space at a very rapid rate. And so what will happen is, the larger companies of the world will say, “We don’t need the loan originator as much, unless they’re providing a value.” That’s our job, to go provide this value that is not replaceable by technology, but can be assisted by technology. So I can use a system like Floify to assist me and not replace me, so I can then add my two cents and my consultative knowledge and behavior and 30 years of experience to help my clients and my referral partners gain traction in what it is they’re trying to do. I can do that with the help of systems, but not be replaced by the systems. I think that’s what’s important about this next phase of our industry is: you need to make sure that you yourself are not replaced by the technology, but you use it to enhance your own abilities in your own systems and your own processes.