Add Value to People Lives. Everyone has something to offer of value; education, expertise, time, money, energy, listening ear. Look to network and build relationships by giving value to others. A major part of my first two years in the industry was networking with real estate agents in hopes that they would eventually refer me to their clients as their mortgage professional. Now, when you first start in the industry you lack a bit of experience in closing business so offering expertise isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. My approach was to offer my skills with social media and marketing to real estate agents. I would show them how to utilize social media to remain in touch with their current and potential clients. Back then, this was a powerful skill that not many mortgage professionals even thought of or cared about being good at.
As a part of my series about the ‘Five Things You Need To Know To Succeed In The Real Estate Industry’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Addy Nett.
As they watched the ink dry on the cryptic contract that promised to take their hard-earned cash, Addy Nett and his wife, Kristyn, didn’t understand their mortgage. Still, if they wanted to buy a house, they had to sign on the dotted line.
Just a short while before, Addison had been so broke that he was living in a garage. He could buy a bus ticket to work but not home again. Yet now he was going to be spending his money without knowing the true cost.
It was then that Addison made it his mission to become an expert on home loans and change this moment for future buyers.
Addison doesn’t come from a traditional background, so he didn’t mind editing the rules of the game. Now 5 years down the road, Addy Nett is a successful advisor and host of #1 mortgage podcast, (MLO) Modern Loan Officer, and he has a few things to say about how mortgages really work.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me! I appreciate the opportunity to share my journey and hopefully leave a positive impact on your community.
Regarding my backstory, I need to quickly backpedal to approximately 8 years ago. I was stuck spinning my wheels attempting to rebound from hitting rock bottom in life. Life had taken me for a spin due to an unhealthy relationship which the drama, unfortunately, spilled into my career. The damage of that relationship and the choices I made left me empty-handed, broke, near homeless, and out of touch with family and friends. In six months, I had gone from having a reliable job and beautiful downtown apartment to renting a garage in a duplex working part-time at a deli. I only had enough money to purchase a bus ticket to work and walked nearly 5 miles back to my garage to save the $2.50 a day for a ticket home. I was lost, had zero direction or inspiration.
Fortunately, an amazing Woman (now my wife) crossed my path through Facebook and ignited a fire to become a better version of myself. When we first started dating, I had nothing to give her outside of promises, one of which was to provide financially and strive to restore my original self and begin the journey to the best version of myself for the both of us.
This promise led me to critically analyze myself, core personality traits, and natural strengths & weaknesses. All the things that make me who I am. While doing this I cross-referenced personal research on different industries to work in. I simply just Googled it. I focused on identifying industries that had the potential to make good money and ones that lacked talent/skills of which I naturally possessed and had a desire to refine. During this process, I narrowed down my potential careers to be in either real estate or finance primarily because I felt there was a strong potential to outshine the current stars of those industries with a new perspective of marketing, service, and relationship building. I took as many “office assistant/marketing” interviews as I could get! I eventually had been given the opportunity to land a job with a startup real estate mortgage team in Portland, Oregon. My first year was filled with assisting well-established mortgage professionals with their already grown client lists of real estate agents, home buyers, and sellers. This tiny assistant job gave me a foot in the door to the real estate & mortgage world. I was able to learn the money side of the real estate world and quickly subscribed to the fact that there was a serious opportunity to impact this industry by modernizing the service approach with technology, marketing, and an education. Within two and a half years, I went from office assistant to licensed mortgage originator, to managing a team and opening a mortgage bank branch. I had found momentum and quickly advanced in my career simply focusing on servicing clients, networking, and leveraging social media in a local capacity.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I had a client of mine who was planning to purchase a house here in our local area. I was his mortgage advisor, so my complete responsibility was to secure the financing and loan for the transaction. The structuring of his loan included a family gift from his mother and sister. This is a very common occurrence, especially for first-time homebuyers. The closing date for our client’s real estate purchase was scheduled to be completed while I was out of the country on a vacation. I had left the United States with complete confidence that the transaction would close with my trusted operations team keeping an eye on the final steps to completion. While I was away, I hadn’t received any emails or messages regarding the transaction and I had assumed that the deal had closed. To my surprise, on my first day back to the office my team had informed me that our client refused to purchase the home and didn’t want to speak to anyone but myself. I urgently gave our client a ring, very confused about why he didn’t continue with the final steps of the real estate transaction. During the call, he explained that his family had given him the money to buy the house but unfortunately he had given away the money to a “friend”. He was too scared to tell his family. He “had faith” that I could call them on his behalf and iron out any confusion. This was the only time in my mortgage career that a client of mine had not only lost his down payment funds from his family (approximately $10,000), he wanted me to explain to his family that he had given it away and to politely ask them for more money. He even warned me that they would be very upset. Unbelievable right?
At first, I was hesitant to do this for my client since it definitely falls outside of my scope of work. However, I felt some sort of compassion for the situation and called his family and explained he had lost the money. They were very upset. After many hours of silence and frustration, they agreed to give more money to him and proceed with closing.
This situation was one of the more awkward business calls I had ever had to make. I did learn that communicating the importance of money management as well as not getting in the middle of family drama is a skill that can only be sharpened through experience. I still lean on that experience these days because there simply isn’t a more uncomfortable call to make than telling someone else’s family their son lost all the money they gave them.
Do you have a favorite “life lesson quote”? Can you share a story or example of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Success is not owned, it is rented — and that rent is due every day.” — Rory Vaden
Rory Vaden’s book, ‘Take The Stairs: 7 Steps To Achieving True Success’ was an audiobook I listened to my first year in the mortgage industry. It has a great concept of not letting up on your motivation and needing to make daily contributions to your career. Remember, that each day we are where we are only temporarily and that we still need to make daily contributions and deposits to our future. This is very important within my business and when I am having an off day I remind myself of the teachings in this book.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Our biggest project today is the MLO Mortgage & Real Estate Podcast. We provide free episodes every week that assist people all around the world with becoming educated on the home buying process.
Currently, we are working on creating ‘short form’ clips to post on social media for a quick listen to learn more about real estate and the financing and mortgage processes.
We are posting these on my Instagram page: @addy.nett.
I am very excited to continue breaking down definitions and giving tips to people in a quick transparent way!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Many real estate mortgage professionals sell their services by communicating how complicated the process is… even when it isn’t. We focus on simplifying the process and communicating the steps in a more digestible way.
To give the full picture here is a perfect example:
Client: ‘These numbers seem high, is this the best deal I can get?’
Common response a mortgage advisor would give: ‘The costs are just what they are, I am doing my best to get you a good deal…’
Our response: ‘The financial costs are broken down into multiple sections as displayed on the document you are viewing. The first section is what I like to call non-controllable costs. These costs are set by the city and county, simply put you and I cannot do anything to change these. The second section is the fees of which our company charges for our services. Four individuals are working to support you including myself. That section is how we all get paid. Lastly, the third section is the direct cost for the terms of which you are selecting on the loan. Now we could reduce these costs by increasing your interest rate, however, this would then increase your monthly payment and move us further away from the goals you and I first discussed when we built your real estate and mortgage plan. Would you like me to review how we got to this point again?’
Our approach leads with education and doesn’t confuse our clients or deflect their questions. We embrace explaining the why and make sure we are moving towards our client’s big picture goal. We also make ourselves available to revisit the subject to make sure our clients feel confident in our services.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
This is super difficult to answer due to the long list of people who deserve recognition for helping and supporting me along my journey. I would have to say I am very grateful for the first mortgage company I worked for. They gave me the opportunity to work within the industry I have now found as my long-term calling. This company allowed me to gain experience in an industry that can sometimes be challenging to get into. If it weren’t for their support for my forward-thinking ideas and passion to make meaningful change in the mortgage industry, I likely wouldn’t have stayed in this career.
I had many ideas, like incorporating text marketing, social media, and video content which at the time was not traditional within the industry.
Even though many people within the office were not too excited about my ideas, the company embraced my business development concepts. This gave me the chance to exponentially grow a business and create a client list of which now is the heartbeat of my income.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry? If you can please share a story or example.
- Millennials are the majority home buyers now for 8 straight years. It excites me that the younger generations are embracing homeownership! As age is becoming less of a factor in people’s income potential we are seeing more and more individuals investing in owning homes and building wealth and financial freedom through real estate. Over half of my closed real estate mortgages last year were from millennial-aged couples or families and that percentage continues to grow over each quarter.
- Interest rates are at record lows. The access to money through lending is still at a historical low, allowing people to leverage their future earning potential at an even greater capacity than in past years. Interest plays a huge role in determining monthly payment, buying power, and the overall profit margin on a real estate transaction. Many older generations remember interest rates being triple what they are now, making their payments higher, buying power lower, and the overall timeline to homeownership slower. Living in this era of low-interest rates creates so much opportunity for the average person. Just two years ago, people were purchasing the same priced homes and the monthly payment was anywhere from $200 — $300 more a month all because of the interest rates associated with a mortgage.
- Evolution of Social Media & Technology. People have become accustomed to real estate professionals marketing themselves via social media platforms. It excites me that we can use our phones to create videos to post, communicate with clients, and have access to all types of real estate content instantly. It has never been more convenient to instantly have access to learn, promote, and educate. I have people call me every day thanking me for our podcast videos and Instagram content we post. I typically have no clue these people have been consuming our content until they are ready to purchase a home and want to use me as their mortgage professional. From a client servicing perspective, I love leveraging technology. I remember just five years ago when I first started in the real estate mortgage industry the veteran mortgage professionals I supported thought I was crazy when I suggested they all start texting their clients to systemize their correspondence. They explained, “we don’t text clients in the finance world, that is just not professional.” Well, look at us now! Almost all clients prefer text correspondence over email and I spend close to 30 hours a week on video zoom meetings with clients. Embracing technology and social media is a major pillar in our growth and success!
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest? Please share stories or examples if possible.
- Down Payment Assistance. As the prices of homes continue to increase, it is becoming more and more difficult for some families and individuals to secure a down payment for purchasing their first home. Now, there are a few down payment assistance programs available, however, most of the terms that are associated with these programs are not ideal or favorable to the consumer. I would like to see a well-thought-out down payment program that is more accessible with greater loan terms. Lastly, an ideal program would embrace long-term education about financial responsibility and homeownership.
- Simplify Complicated Loan Documents. In my opinion, the paperwork associated with getting a loan is way too complicated. Specifically how loan estimates are demonstrated in documentation form. There is no reason to make the paperwork so complicated and confusing to interpret. Much of my time is focused on teaching people what these documents are communicating and holding their hands through all of the paperwork.
- Credit Score Model. The mystery of credit scores continues to baffle the general public. There are many credit score estimators of which are still not accurate. There needs to be more efforts from the credit bureaus on how the scoring model works and how consumers can invest time improving their scores. It still blows my mind the discrepancy between credit score estimators and actual scores when they pull their credit with a mortgage professional like myself. Though the ability to improve your score and request updates from credit bureaus has improved, there is still no excuse as to why the general public has such a lack of information to manage and improve their credit scores. In a world in which this score dramatically impacts our financial opportunities in life, this needs to be addressed with a higher priority.
What advice would you give to other real estate leaders to help their teams to thrive and to create a really fantastic work culture?
- Identify what motivates individuals. When you are building a team it is important to invest time analyzing what your team members individually get motivated by. I will typically do this by having people complete a DISC assessment report, which will break down a shortlist of the things that motivate them in the corporate and personal world. As a leader, if you understand what makes each of your team members tick you can adjust your leadership and communication approach to make each person more impactful on your team.
- Focus on people’s strengths not weaknesses. Everyone has weaknesses. I see many leaders spend too much time (even myself) focusing on what someone is lacking rather than what they can contribute. I find it most beneficial to identify the strengths of a team member and harness that energy and focus. We had a team member who was stuck in a cubical doing data entry and didn’t seem very excited about his work. He missed details and deadlines over and over. At first, I was frustrated why they didn’t simply complete their work on time and naturally go above and beyond. I took the time to have them complete a DISC assessment and realized through their report findings that this person would not thrive from task work. They thrive in a creative space with an artistic contribution to a bigger cause. After this realization, we adjusted their weekly responsibilities to photography for our team and editing posts for social media marketing. This adjustment has completely transformed this person’s contributions to our team goals from nothing to a major pillar in our growth.
- Embrace the customer’s point of view. Many questions can be answered by shifting your focus to the point of view of your customer. This approach can be very effective not only when resolving conflict but also when creating marketing materials. When we are brainstorming difficult podcast episodes for our show, we are constantly asking our viewers what they would want to hear. When we create a mortgage strategy for our clients, we are routinely focused on looking at the plan from the customer’s point of view. Does this client have kids? Does this customer prefer texting over emailing? How will the client interpret these messages at the end of their long day? Thinking from the customer’s point of view and how they will receive your messages, services, or content makes a major impact on improving your business approach.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non-intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Build Relationships without Keeping Score. Building a business in real estate is filled with tempting lead-generating platforms that many newer industry workers opted in for. I have learned that nothing can replace simply prioritizing relationships and building those connections without keeping score. I have focused on building strong relationships by giving and not expecting anything in return. Often I hear so many people in real estate complain or express how much effort they have put into people, clients, and content and haven’t received anything back. When I focus on giving and doing what is right without keeping score, other buckets in my business succeed.
- Add Value to People Lives. Everyone has something to offer of value; education, expertise, time, money, energy, listening ear. Look to network and build relationships by giving value to others. A major part of my first two years in the industry was networking with real estate agents in hopes that they would eventually refer me to their clients as their mortgage professional. Now, when you first start in the industry you lack a bit of experience in closing business so offering expertise isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. My approach was to offer my skills with social media and marketing to real estate agents. I would show them how to utilize social media to remain in touch with their current and potential clients. Back then, this was a powerful skill that not many mortgage professionals even thought of or cared about being good at. This was my original value add to the network of real estate partners. I built a strong sphere of people by giving advice on social media and marketing and eventually graduated to offering financing and mortgage expertise, but this took time to learn. In addition to my experience on the financing side, I have built out a reputation within our local real estate community for being advanced in my comprehension of technology. I am the go-to for work efficiencies specific to our profession! I like to embrace new digital tools and be an early adaptor. My experience with this mindset allows me to provide value to other business partners by sharing tips, tricks, and mistakes. From a client perspective, I lean on speaking from experiences to add value. Many of my customers are younger homebuyers in their 20s or 30s. My clients love hearing my approach to real estate investing! My wife and I have 3 homes in our names. One of which we converted to a rental property, another is our primary residence, and the third is a property we co-signed for a family member to allow them to start building wealth in real estate. These experiences within my life allow me to step into my client’s shoes. I add value to them by sharing my wins and mistakes during these transactions. Each of these purchases my wife and I were at different chapters in our lives. Finances were different for each, our career developments were in different stages, and the pressures/fears were all contrasting. I focus on remembering where we were at in each of those stages and attempt to share how I felt during those different times. This is a huge value add to my clients as they now feel they are truly being navigated through the home buying process.
- Embrace Long Term Thinking. Embracing long-term thinking is a key trait you see in successful individuals. I often hear industry professionals speaking to their short-term wins and this trickles down to how they spend their daily energy with their business. When we focus on long-term goals, results, and relationships our brain will automatically shift from making short-term impulsive decisions to long-term sustainable actions. For example, I made a huge decision a few years ago to simply not work with people I didn’t care to be around. People of which treated me poorly and did not value my contributions as a real estate mortgage professional. Though this decision set me back financially for a few months, the long-term benefit was well worth it. Now, I work with individuals on a mutually respectful basis and we’ve grown close and bonded like a family. This has made the highs and the lows much easier to experience and my lifestyle much more enjoyable.
- Prioritize Systems and Time-Saving Methods. One of the first jobs I had after I graduated high school was working at a restaurant. I learned in the restaurant industry the power of systems and time-saving methods. Every task in the restaurant world is tracked for cost and efficiency. In real estate, the profession is a very self-managed world. With the continued demand to grow our business, contribute towards social media, and educate. How do we find more time in the day? The answer is systems and time-saving methods. One of the best things I did for my business was organize a digital scheduling system via Calendly. Before using this tool, I spent hours a week playing email/phone tag scheduling client calls and meetings. Back and forth, “send me some dates and I will put something on the calendar”. A huge time waste. A digital scheduler allows me to simply send a link to which any of my clients and business partners can choose a time to meet with me based on my calendar availability. I can time block certain days and hours specifically for eachtype of proposed meeting (networking, mortgage strategy, new client, podcast episode, etc). This gives me so much time back in my schedule! Embracing systems and time-saving methods, huge!
- Do What is Right for the Client… Acting in Their Best Interest. This concept might seem obvious, do what is right for the client. Unfortunately, there are many real estate and mortgage professionals who are more concerned about getting paid since this industry is primarily commissioned only. They are more worried about when they will get paid instead of showing up for their clients. This is a slippery mindset and a very bad habit to create. Customers choose people like myself to be their advisors and navigate them through the real estate process with an objective point of view. This is exactly why I refuse to offer what is called “volume incentives” to my team. Volume incentives are where your commission increases for the more transactions you close within one calendar month. I am strongly against this because then you are promoting a work culture of the employee advising in their best interest, not the client. One might suggest accepting a counteroffer on a real estate transaction just so they might “hit a higher tier level” of commission. Nobody should ever think this way and it drives me nuts that there are even work environments still like this. People are trusting that you will advise them appropriately and give them the best guidance. I have had many transactions in my career in which I have told people not to accept an offer or not do a refinance because I believed that was what was best for them. Now did that help me financially? Absolutely not, I didn’t make any money. However, it is my job to do what is right for my clients and act in their best interest. Never sway from this concept and you will survive and grow in the industry.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Apple Podcast — MLO | Mortgage & Real Estate Guide: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mlo-mortgage-real-estate-guide/id1506511936
Spotify Podcast — MLO | Mortgage & Real Estate Guide: https://open.spotify.com/show/7iakkosZhjCZ8vp4VPayJS
Website, All Social & Content Links, Schedule a Mortgage & Real Estate Strategy with our Team: www.addynett.com
Thank you for your time, and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.