What makes Maria Labie a leader
When Maria Labie answered an ad in the paper for a job at a local Michigan bank, she didn’t know it would be the start of a 20+ year career in mortgage lending. She just hoped to get her start in the workplace and take advantage of their college tuition reimbursement program. But the bank recognized Maria’s worth as a hard worker and a go-getter – and Maria recognized that she had stumbled onto a career path that would allow her to stretch herself and to make a difference in people’s lives.
“My epiphany was that being in the mortgage industry requires you to have business acumen, marketing acumen and underwriting knowledge, and to become an educator and a champion of families,” Maria says. “It allows you to wear many hats, and it can be life-changing when you go the extra yard for people."
Wearing many hats leads to many accomplishments
Maria has accomplished a lot since her first role as a closer at that local bank, which was acquired by Huntington National Bank only a year later. She moved up to a processor and eventually the operations supervisor, managing 25 employees in 42 branches. In her current role as a vice president of mortgage sales for Independent Bank, she has made the President’s Club every month for outstanding mortgage production levels and has been its top lender for the past 6 years. She has been nominated as one of Hour Detroit’s Top Mortgage Professionals every year since 2016 and has ranked in the top 1% of mortgage originators in America by Mortgage Executive Magazine.
Although she is proud of the accolades she has earned, Maria focuses more on the future than the past. “Every day you can embrace a new opportunity to do more,” she says, “Mortgage business development is an ATM. If you make the right deposits by investing in your execution and in your community, you will experience unlimited rewards and wins when you least expect it.”
"Every day you can embrace a new opportunity to do more."
Making a difference means giving your best to everyone you serve
Maria's success over the last 20 years has not changed her motivation as a loan officer: to make a difference for the people she serves. “My favorite part of being a loan officer is helping families make the best decisions and end up in the right place,” she says. Maria strives to give families options her own family never had. She grew up in an economically disadvantaged household and is certain her parents missed out on opportunities based on a lack of good advice from the professionals around them.
Maria's focus on giving her best extends to everyone she touches throughout the process of funding a mortgage. “This is a responsibility, not a transaction,” Maria explains. “I have a responsibility to the homebuyer, the seller, two different real estate agents to go the extra yard. I extract every opportunity to save the consumer money and get them the best package possible.”
To get consumers the best package possible, Maria relies on her deep knowledge of products and programs, and on really listening to customers’ needs. For example, she explores whether they qualify for down payment assistance or a special homebuyer credit, or the benefits of financing in energy-efficient upgrades like through a Freddie Mac GreenCHOICE Mortgage® loan. “You have one moment to make a first impression,” she says. “It’s easy to be a gladiator or a cheerleader, but your substance and integrity and ability to make the transaction as easy as possible is what will make the difference.”
Slightly nautical advice for loan officers in today’s market
In this market, Maria sees plenty of nervous loan officers who like the profession but seem to have one foot in another profession.
An ocean-lover, Maria likens the market to the water: “Some loan officers are like boaters who say they like the water. They can be in and out of the water, affected by waves, weather and circumstances. The truly successful loan officers are like scuba divers. A scuba diver doesn’t just like the water – they are the water, fully immersed.”
Maria’s recommendation for “boating” loan officers? “Every loan officer should write a mission statement. If you’re struggling, realign your compass. Focus on your reason for being in the business and the waves and turbulence will be easier to navigate.”
3 questions with Maria Labie
How do you maintain your referral relationships?
“A really good relationship with your referral partner depends on accountability. Many loan officers confuse having a personal brand with social media, but your personal brand is really how you handle problems, how you provide solutions, the communication you share throughout the process. Once you build that brand, your partners have confidence in your flawless execution, and they’ll keep coming back.”
What's your approach to social media?
“I think social media shouldn’t be a glamour parade. It’s a great place to remind people of the programs you offer that might help them, and to give subtle reminders that you’re there.”
If you weren’t a loan officer, what job would you be doing?
GreenCHOICE Mortgage® is a Freddie Mac registered trademark.
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