Mortgage Daily

Published On: January 13, 2012

2011 Loan Originator Survey

Survey and analysis of the nation’s top-producing mortgage loan officers

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Best of the Best
In this study, Mortgage Daily homed in on the work practices and production of 80 of the biggest loan originators in the country. These professionals fit comfortably into the top 1 percent of producers in the nation, and they have retained very high production even during extraordinarily difficult times.

This survey of “the best of the best” reveals new details about the performance of top originators. Just as importantly, it identifies pathways that mortgage lenders and brokers can take to maximize the talent and productivity within their own ranks.


To begin, the survey defined the demographic composition of top originators. In short, they can be described as experienced, educated and male.

They earn incomes that put them comfortably in the top 5 percent of all Americans.

Experience. The survey found that 71 percent of the respondents have more than a decade of experience originating mortgages. Another 27 percent have at least five years’ experience.

Years of Experience as a Mortgage Loan Originator

Clearly, experience matters.

But the survey also revealed that a mix of experience and energy might be even better.

Nearly half (47 percent) of the top loan originators are between the ages of 36 and 45, and another 28 percent are 46 to 55.

That could suggest that a “sweet spot” exists in the middle of a typical working lifetime.

The implication for employers is that they need to develop the next generation of professionals who will drive their business as their current originators move through their years of peak productivity.

Income and production. Annual income above $350,000 was reported by 63 percent of those surveyed, and another 25 percent of the group earned between $251,000 and $350,000.

Income from Originating in 2010

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that a mere 2 percent of U.S. households had income of at least $250,000 as of March 2010.

Of course, those high incomes reflect high productivity. Mortgage loan origination is a sales-driven business. Each of the loan originators was named on either (or both) the Scotsman Guide’s Top Originators 2010 or Origination News Top 150 Loan Originators.

The priority for employers is maintaining an atmosphere in which those producers can continue to thrive. This is a major issue because the survey revealed that even experienced, highly productive originators are frustrated by new regulations and more paperwork. Later in the report, candid remarks by originators about the impact of the array of new rules will be shared.

Education. Two-thirds of respondents in the survey had a four-year college degree, and another 16 percent had graduate degrees.

That’s 82 percent of top originators who hold college degrees.

Education matters — and it’s safe to say that it will matter even more in a profession that is moving towards tougher licensing standards, more testing and continuing education, and a greater reliance on technology and social media.

Work hours. Of course, these industry leaders work hard for their money. Eighteen percent said they work at least 60 hours a week, 42 percent work 50 to 59 hours a week and 35 percent said they work between 40 and 49 hours each week.

Male-dominated at the top. An overwhelming share of the originators (91 percent) in the survey was male. It’s unclear if the survey unintentionally tracked mostly men from the top tier of producers, or whether men really do account for almost all top producers.

Four out of five top producers belong to industry associations. On average, they belong to two such organizations.

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