Anthony Pepe, SVP Branch Development at RealFi Home Funding Corp. Provides Keys to Growing a Mortgage Business

Anthony Pepe

As the mortgage origination market shifts from refinance to a more purchase driven environment, many companies are rethinking the originations side of the business. Some that are running into revenue headwinds are downsizing and trying to realign personnel with reduced origination levels.

Others have ramped up hiring, determined to grow. For this to work, especially in a rising rate environment, hiring and building out new offices has to be done in a way that is a win-win for both the lending institution as well as the originator. 

To understand what goes into creating such a scenario, Anthony Pepe, SVP of Branch Division at RealFi Home Funding provided information on the subject for consideration.

Anthony's keys to growing an origination business:

Honest and Open Communication - When communicating, try to look at things from the eyes of the originator or the branch manager. For Anthony, this comes easy since he still originates himself.

"You can't manage what you can't do," says Thomas Williams, sales manager at RealFi Funding who works closely with Pepe. "Anthony is actively doing what a branch manager does and applies concepts that are easy to translate because they are real life experiences and speaks from an originator perspective. That's what makes working with Pepe great."

The mortgage industry is cyclical and technology adoption has accelerated. The industry is also closely tied to government initiatives. In such a dynamic environment, it's important to let everyone know what is happening and why.

Underscoring this, Anthony states: "Communication leads to responsibility which leads to accountability and forms the basis for good corporate culture, one that is authentic and not just a bunch of people wearing the same shirt."

Involvement - Executives should stay involved. Sharing what is working and not working, help with recruiting and always build from the ground up. It is easy for managers to become myopic with production. Open communication benefits all parties involved and creates a better company.

Using a metaphor, Anthony stated: "When you see your house on fire, run with a bucket of water to your house."

Executive involvement is one half of the puzzle. Branch managers and loan officers should be involved and work together as a team. Get them to help when assessing new technology and new loan programs.

Building Relationships - Employees have to know the company supports them in order to build a sense of trust that comes from offering consistent viewpoints that align with company values and priorities. Over time, if done correctly, this manifests into a sense of family and loyalty, important elements for workforce retention.

As for a client relationships, Mr. Williams had this to say about what Anthony taught him. "Focus on the customer. The benefits to the bank, and success, will come. Keep in touch with internal teams and clients, in person preferably and when possible. Try to be an added value service, provide information and education on new programs and how to manage credit scoring scenarios." These are lessons Williams used to build an extensive referral business.

Make Sure You Have a Good Fit - Look for people that are like-minded and that understand the job. Take time to determine what they want to get out of the position and help assess an understanding of the risks associated with being a lender, things such as hiring processors, underwriters and building a team. Providing originators with access to an expert mortgage marketer is critical, especially in a turbulent market environment. Learn to identify that not everyone is branch manager material. Some are simply, great originators. Understand the difference and provide the necessary support to engage with each, when growth opportunities are present.

It's Always About the Purchase Market Mentality - Even when refinancing is driving most of the production, still take the time to network with others and continue to build realtor and other referral networks. Some originators might be inclined to get complacent and just focus on the easy money refinance business. Remember where these refinance loans are coming from; (an established client or someone who has been recommended). Consistent network expansion ensures a steadier revenue stream and makes it easier to demonstrate the value of the mortgage transaction.

Constantly Learn and Teach - Arm originators with knowledge to master their craft. Lending executives have a responsibility to help teammates understand products the company offers and any new technology solutions available.

Companies need leaders, not just executives. There are a lot of elements that go into being a good leader. Perhaps the most important one is to stay humble.

As Anthony says, "At the end of the day, the king, queen, knight and pawn go back in the same box."

About Anthony Pepe - Anthony's 26-year track record of fostering growth for mortgage companies, began his career as an originator in 1996. Joining First United in 1999 and transitioning the company from broker to banker (another way to grow), while working with investors and building out back-office processes and capabilities. Pepe then helped Streamline Mortgage and grew their branch network from three to twenty offices. This playbook strategy was replicated when Pepe joined Residential Home Funding in 2012 and successfully recruited/managed 15 branches, while helping manage the other 20 branches the company had. Pepe grew the teams' revenue to over $400 million in annual sales, and in August 2020, Residential Home Funding Corp changed its name to RealFi Home Funding Corp. 

Lender NMLS: 34973 | 707 Westchester Ave., Suite 305, White Plains, NY 10604  | Equal Housing Lender/Equal Opportunity Employer. For specific RealFi Home Funding Corp. Licensing details, visit the financial services industry's online registration and licensing database.( 

Press Contact- - 888.859.8824

Source: Anthony Pepe, RealFi