Kristin Jamieson, of Success Mortgage Partners, is Style’s 2020 Business Woman of the Year.
Photos: Douglas Tyler
Kevin Broughton remembers receiving a phone call about six years ago from a Kansas woman who had just moved with her husband and two children to Lake County. Kevin is one of three owners of Success Mortgage Partners Inc., a company based in Michigan that operates in 30 states, including Florida.
“She called me up and said, ‘I’m going to be a loan officer. I’ve never been a loan officer in my life. I’ve always been a processor and I just moved to a state and a town in which I know no people. Do you want to hire me?’” Kevin says. “Well, that’s normally the worst call I can get. But there was just something special about her and she said, ‘I’m unlike any woman you’ve ever met.’ And I said, ‘Tell me why,’ and she gave me this little story. She said, ‘I will exceed your expectations guaranteed.’ And I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Six years later, Kristin Jamieson is the producing branch manager for Success Mortgage Partners in Montverde, the largest earner for the company and the winner of its 2019 Partner of the Year award.
Kristin also is Style’s 2020 Business Woman of the Year, selected in a reverse drawing conducted recently on Facebook Live. Style has honored businesswomen with an annual issue for nine years.
“It’s super-exciting,” Kristin says of the selection.
As a mortgage loan consultant, she helps clients get loans to buy residential properties. She has helped more than 1,000 Lake County families achieve the dream of home ownership. She previously worked for many years in operations, processing and underwriting loans.
Kristin changed her life when she decided to become a loan officer.
“She’s the greatest success story in the history of the United States mortgage industry,” Kevin says without exaggeration. “She’s one in a million, and what she’s accomplished, I’ve never seen it before in 25 years of doing this. She’s unbelievable. She outsmarts everyone, outworks everyone and out-cares everyone.”
Million is a key word in her profession. Kevin estimates the average loan officer does $5 million a year in loan production. Kristin grossed $75.1 million last year and may reach $100 million this year, he says.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the economy, Kristin says the mortgage business is a bright spot. She expected to close about $12 million in loans in May, her busiest month ever. People who have been forced to stay at home have had more time to examine their finances, she explains.
“We’re busier than we’ve ever been,” Kristin says. “Whenever there’s adversity in the world or anything going on, people tend to pull out of the stock market and put their money in safer assets, such as mortgage-backed securities.”
As of mid-May, interest rates were as low as she had ever seen, even dipping into the 2 percent range, she says.
“Pretty much every American can benefit from a refinance right now, and then it’s also bringing affordability back to our area, something we’ve lost over the last few years,” Kristin says. “Even though the prices haven’t started declining—we haven’t seen the decline in value—the decline in interest rates is making it more affordable for your first-time homebuyers or your older adults that are retiring and downsizing.”
On the downside, with high unemployment rates, some people can’t qualify for loans or were starting the loan process when they lost their jobs. She says government guidelines on lending also have tightened.
“The guidelines are just getting a little tougher but that’s just to ensure anybody entering into a mortgage transaction has the ability to succeed,” Kristin says. “We don’t want to end up in a housing crisis like we did in 2008.”
Kristin credits her success to educating clients and creating a communication system that provides weekly status updates to all parties involved in the loans. Her branch also closes all loans within 30 days or fewer.
The branch has 10 employees, all from Lake County, and her husband, Joe Jamieson, handles marketing. The couple now have three children: Kansas, 10; Maggie, 7; and Joey, 3. They’ve built their lives in Montverde, where home, office and school are within minutes of each other.
“We always say, it’s kind of a joke, he’s the beauty of the operation and I’m the other brains,” Kristin says of her husband.
“In our business, nothing is ever the same—no two files are ever the same, no two benefits to the customer—so we actually have something to talk about,” she adds. “There’s never a dull moment, either, and we’re both passionate and enjoy what we do.”
Kevin says that passion has driven Kristin to succeed. But he didn’t see that in her immediately. Success Mortgage Partners has 505 employees nationwide, and each employee initially is given a personality profile test. Kristin’s profile indicated she was a cautious, detail-oriented person who would be best used as a support person behind the scenes.
“Everything when I met her said this gal probably won’t make it,” Kevin says.
Kristin is candid about her abilities as well.
“I didn’t come from a sales background. Quite frankly, I’m not a good salesperson. I’m just not,” she says. “I’m much better behind a computer figuring out numbers. But because of my background in operations, it’s transitioned into an amazing position as a loan officer because I know what loans work, I know what loans don’t work.”
And that knowledge matters to clients, Kevin says.
“She’s smart as a whip. She knows mortgages better than anyone in that county, I guarantee you,” he says. “(When) you walk in there to get a loan, you want someone that’s going to make sure to explain everything to you properly.
“Some guys or gals will just put you in the easiest product or the fastest product or anything that can get you in and out quick,” Kevin continues. “She goes the opposite route. She spends more time with a client than anyone I know and all she cares about (is), are they in the right program for them and their family?”
Kristin is equally passionate about how she and her Success Mortgage Partners branch serve the community. And, as a mother of three, she’s a sucker for charities revolving around kids.
“We really care because this is our community, too,” she says. “If somebody reaches out to me and it has to do with children, I say yes.”
Her branch has served for several years as a sponsor for New Beginnings of Central Florida, a Clermont-based organization dedicated to helping the homeless population.
Success Mortgage Partners created a nonprofit organization, Partners Making a Difference, that helps fund an Adopt-a-Family program. Every year, the Montverde branch adopts at least five families at Christmastime. The branch also works with the Kiwanis Club to provide toys, blankets, toothbrushes and other supplies to 200 Lake County students each year.
Kristin is the No. 1 individual contributor of funds to Partners Making a Difference, Kevin says.
“She’s got a huge heart. She gives everything that she has to Lake County. She loves Lake County,” he says.
He also recognizes her commitment to her own children.
“She grew up with nothing and she made it a point that her kids were never going to repeat the cycle that she had, and she’s done every single thing she’s set out to do,” he says. “She made a decision to change her life forever.”
That decision to move to Lake County and call Success Mortgage Partners has paid off professionally and personally. She loves her job, though the financial payoff isn’t her first priority.
“It’s definitely not about the money. I’ve never had money my whole entire life, so having money now doesn’t mean anything,” Kristin says. “I’m helping families achieve the American dream and, again, success starts at home, so if you don’t have a safe and secure place to call home, then life’s just a lot harder. So I know that I’m helping build that solid foundation for families to grow and succeed well, and building their financial future.”