Scotsman Guide > Rankings > Top Originators 2012 > Q&A: Mark Cohen #1 Top Overall

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Q&A: #1 2012 Top Overall Volume


Cohen Financial Group’s Mark Cohen is making his first appearance in Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators rankings — and he’s making that debut a memorable one. Based in Beverly Hills, Calif., Cohen closed more than $590 million from 767 loans this past year, earning him the No. 1 spot on our Top Dollar Volume list. In fact, Cohen’s total volume is the largest we’ve seen since we started compiling the rankings. We spoke with him to learn more about his production and approach to the mortgage business.

What kind of loans make up your production pipeline?

For the most part, my business is jumbos. The average loan here for myself is probably in the $900,000 range, but at the same time, I do a lot of small loans — a lot of conforming loans, $200,000 or $150,000 or so — so I have a wide range of clientele, which I think smoothes out the volatility in the business.

What are some of the keys to working in the jumbo market?

You have to have the relationships with people who are in that price range. Being in a west-side town [in Los Angeles], there’s a lot of affluent people — I grew up here, so I know a lot of people — and just doing a good job feeds upon itself. I have a lot of close relationships with CPAs [certified public accountants] and real estate brokers and business managers, who are great referral sources.

How has the market changed in the past few years?

It’s getting to be a very aggressive market. There are a lot of players in the market, and a lot of smaller, regional-sized banks. I’m not so sure the major money-center banks are as big a player as they have been in the past, but regional banks are popular. Mortgage banking like what we do here is back in vogue — and the broker business is strong, too — so I think there’s been a little movement from the major money-center banks to the smaller, niche lenders.

What advice would you have for up-and-coming mortgage originators?

It’s a process. You have to be slow and patient, and you’ve got to be confident in yourself. Know the products, always respond back to people, and if you don’t know an answer, say ‘I’ll get back to you.’ Be professional. I think about how I would want to be treated by somebody — [how I’d want to] deal with somebody who’s confident and knowledgeable and straightforward — so just reverse the situation.

How’s 2013 going so far?

The sales market is very strong in Southern California. There’s heavy demand for houses. Most things are selling instantly with backup offers and multiple offers in all price ranges. Rates are pretty consistent, so it’s the perfect backdrop for a good real estate market. A little more accommodating lending in some of the niches that we have has really helped our company out. There’s been a lot of portfolio lending — common-sense lending — that has been just a big advantage for us versus the competition.

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