A Washington mortgage broker who is proactive in real estate finance legislation and believes bad apples should be weeded out of the industry has been recognized by his peers as the best broker in the state.
The Washington Association of Mortgage Brokers recently honored one of its board members with the 2005 Broker of the Year award. The award was presented to Yakima, Wash. mortgage company owner Lee Spurgin "because he embodies the ideals and principles that WAMB sets forth for all its members," the announcement said.
Although he is a member of the WAMB and one of its broker directors, Spurgin told MortgageDaily.com he was very surprised to receive a phone call from WAMB president Pat Naselow informing him that he was the chosen Broker of the Year.
"It's nice to have your efforts recognized," Spurgin said of the award. "That is always good."
Spurgin said he felt his involvement with legislative matters within the state regarding loan officer licensing and continued education may have been a deciding factor in the board having chosen him for the award.
"I am involved in the things that make ours a stronger industry," Spurgin told MortgageDaily.com, "and enable us to get rid of the bad apples that are in the industry."
With 35 years' banking and finance experience, Spurgin said he founded Merit Mortgage in 1994. Today, the company employs three support staff, one of whom is his daughter Lisa Buchanan, and six loan officers, including himself and his son and IT manager, Greg Spurgin.
The company reports an average volume of $35-40 million for this and prior years, he said. Personally, he added, his volume is in the range of $10-12 million annually thanks to his many years in the business that has provided for a "built-in referral program."
Strictly a brokerage, Merit offers a full-range of loan programs, Spurgin said, including commercial and mobile land packages. He said the average property loan is $135-140,000, however, the company's clientele includes a cross section of the state, from low-end FHA to high-end jumbo loans.
He said his philosophy for success includes not making a loan just for the sake of making a loan. "Making sure you do no harm is a good saying for this business," he said. "We turn a lot of people down; if the loan is not in the client's benefit we will tell them."
His advice to those just starting out in the industry is to "never look at your commission, look at doing the best job for your client and your commissions will follow."