A few short months after Shant Banosian became Guaranteed Rate’s first loan officer to originate $1 billion in a year, another Guaranteed Rate loan officer has joined that exclusive club. Ben Cohen, managing director and senior vice president of mortgage lending in Chicago, has funded $1 billion in total loan volume this year.
Cohen, who funded $639 million in 2019, ranked second in the U.S. on the Scotsman Guide’s list of Top 2019 Originators and on the National Mortgage News 2019 Top Producers list.
In an interview with HousingWire, Cohen credited support from Guaranteed Rate, the work of his team, which numbers about 40, and his family, for reaching the billion-dollar mark.
“I’ve been with Guaranteed Rate since 2010, and when I came on, I was originating about $40 million in business. Guaranteed Rate has allowed me the platform to go and do what I do best, which is to sell mortgages and qualify borrowers. And, I am nothing without my staff.”
“This is proof that anything is possible if you set your mind to it,” said Guaranteed Rate President and Chief Executive Officer Victor Ciardelli. “Ben set the amazing goal of breaking the billion dollar mark in a single year, which is only possible through belief. Ben and his team set a brilliant example of positivity in action.”
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Cohen reorganized his team about six years ago, when he had grown his origination to about $150 million. He brought on Production Manager Mike Dye, whom he says operates like the COO of his team, closing the borrowers that Cohen brings in. His team’s focus is providing incredible customer service, Cohen said, capturing the all-important referral business other loan officers might overlook.
“Sometimes lenders are so focused on one part of their business — this year, refi — that they forget about their referral partners,” Cohen said. “We see it as an opportunity to capitalize on other people’s failures. We are focused on creating more and more relationships because right now a lot of people can’t get ahold of their lender, they aren’t getting the communication they need from them.”
Cohen started his career as an IT consultant, working internationally as a technical architect with an IT firm before realizing his true gift lay in developing relationships. An acquaintance got him interested in the mortgage business, where he recognized a chance to use those relationship skills in a whole new way.
Cohen said he sets very lofty goals for himself every year, aiming higher than might even be realistic. “My mindset is I always want to improve every year. And that’s the beautiful thing about this business — no one can cap your potential.”
When the pandemic hit in March, it was unclear how that would affect housing, and lenders had to adjust to constantly changing rules and guidelines. But Cohen said the fact that Guaranteed Rate was already doing everything digitally was a huge advantage when homebuying picked up.
Working hard is a key factor to his production, Cohen said, and his work ethic goes all the back to his first job as a paper boy at age 12. His desire to win at whatever he does, honed as a competitive swimmer, has also been useful. But today, the long hours he logs being available for clients is only possible because of his wife’s work taking care of their three small children, he said.
Looking to next year, Cohen said he is optimistic about surpassing this year’s production. “You have a lot of people sitting in their homes, not spending their money but saving their money. I think the spring market is here and we’re still in winter. People are buying earlier than they were even planning on because rates are so low.
“I believe we will look back on this time and dream of it someday,” Cohen said.