MLM 256 | Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic

We’re still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the road ahead is still uncertain, it helps to know what we can do to navigate this time and, most importantly, come out of it. In this episode, Jen Du Plessis sits down with the president of American Financial Resources and founder of AFR Wholesale, Laura Brandao, to talk about mindset, positivity, and what we can do now. What are the changes happening in the industry during this pandemic? How have our businesses been impacted? What does the future look like? Laura answers these questions while getting us down to the details of housing demand, commercial spaces, and more.

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Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic In This Industry With Laura Brandao

I’m happy you joined us and that you’re here. If this is your first time joining us, thank you. Thank you for spending some time with us. I am positive that you’re going to learn something and you’re going to have an a-ha moment on this episode. Let me introduce our guest who is Laura Brandao. She is the Founder and President of AFR, which is American Financial Resources, a wholesaler, delegated, correspondent, lender, non-delegated, everything to do with wholesaling. I am excited to have her here because I love having powerful women come onto the show. It’s exciting to have you. Welcome.

Thank you. I’m happy to be here, Jen. It’s a pleasure.

Let me tell everybody about you a little bit more than that. You’re the only woman partner of this company. She’s named one of the Twenty Businesswomen to watch in 2020 by Inside Success Magazine. She’s a 2020 Top in Finance, 2019 New Jersey top women in a business award winner. She also is a 2018 NMP’s Women of Influence, and 2019 Women with Vision award which I share with here. She became the Chair of the AIME Women’s Mortgage Network which is part of the AIME Association of Industry Mortgage Experts. I know you’ve been speaking on more stages because we’ve started to share some stages together which is fun.

She has a blog called Say Yes Everyday. She also has a podcast that she started called Positively Charged Biz. Let’s talk about business first because that’s what everybody wants to know. What you and I are going to be talking about is mindset, positivity and what do we do now? We’re still amid COVID. Let’s talk about what you’re seeing as a result of COVID and how it has impacted your business and then what your crystal ball looks like for the future? What do you see that’s going to change for us as an industry as a whole?

I have to back up in a time where the first week of March 2020, I was at the first AIME Women’s Mortgage Network event in Irvine, California. For months and months, I was preparing our first inaugural event. We go out to Irvine and we crushed it. What we did is we launched it with 50 handpicked women to be the ambassadors as we continue to grow the group. The group has almost 1,000 members, but we took these 50 to put them through an all-day extensive training. We go out there and the first day was phenomenal.

The next day was the actual AIME activate event. Here we are about 1,400 mortgage professionals, all hugging, all being close, all together as we’re hopping on planes and at that moment, the rates are dropping. I can remember being on the phone with our CEO going, “You have to shut off pricing because we can’t possibly handle another loan.” It was ridiculous. The AIME event was awesome and come back. All of a sudden, you’re hearing rumbles about this.

I feel a little bit more than we anticipated. All of a sudden, we’re having partners meetings saying, “If we have to shut the building down, what do we do? What do we physically have that’s on paper that we have to worry about?” Thank goodness we went remote back in 2011. Fifty percent of my employees were already remote and probably the other 30% could be remote, but there was 10% of the team that had never been set up. As that second week scrambling with my wonderful IT department that’s figuring out, “Hurry up, come down and get your equipment. We have to use your speed tests.”

As all this is happening and you’re in this whirlwind, what started to happen by week three and we all had to go home and we’re all working from home. I’m on phone calls and I’m in text message groups with my competitors. I’m on calls and meetings where we’re sharing what’s going on and we’re sharing how we’re handling it. How are you handling appraisals? How are you handling the title? How are you handling the notes to the warehouse? What are you doing? We have both been in the mortgage business for a lot of years.

Never in my entire career have I seen people come together like what I witnessed that third week of March. We’re all saying, “This is what I’m doing. These are my thoughts. What do you think?” I’ve got to tell you, I’m sitting there going, “We got this.” The MBA is stepping up. They’re holding meeting after meeting. Communication is happening. Leaders are stepping up and saying, “Let’s hold hands. We’re going to pull you through.” At this point in time, I’ve watched our industry come together in a way I haven’t seen. I’ve been proud of them.

I saw that too. The speed to market was incredible. Not like it was when we had the credit crunch, the great recession. The speed to market, I couldn’t believe how quickly everybody was shifting and even the federal reserve and how quickly they were moving. Even comments that were coming out of FHA were good to let us know. We didn’t like what they’re saying, but we know what’s happening. It’s better to know than wonder. I love that the back end of everything, wholesale and correspondent was collaborating and not being competitive instead of saying, “How do we get the whole market moving forward?”

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Time is passing, we’re getting through this. Everybody’s able to work efficiently. What do I see in the crystal ball for the future? I think rates are going to remain low for a while. Even if they go up, they’re still ridiculously low. Even any little increase it’s still ridiculously low. I do believe and we’re seeing it that it’s going to be a strong purchase market. Although there’s plenty of refinances out there and that will continue. I’m certainly not losing sight of that.

There are lots of families that can benefit from a refinance, but the purchase market, people saw things that woke them up. People were put into situations where they said, “It is important for me to have a backyard. It is important for me to have a little space. It is important that maybe I don’t want to bounce around all over the place. Maybe I do want to be rooted and maybe I do want to stay put.” I think this has changed people’s mindsets and bots in many different ways, but in one way, that ties to our industry. It’s going to result in a strong purchase market.

I don’t know my husband’s exact numbers, but I would say 85% of what he’s doing is a purchase. He has a little over 3,000 clients in the database because of all the years of lending and stuff. Everybody thought refi’s would be the thing, but then people started losing their jobs. They weren’t sure, then the guidelines start changing. Everyone thought, “No one’s going to do purchases. We’re going to see a drop in purchases.” I was predicting an itty-bitty drop and then watch out and we’re not even out of COVID. Everybody continues to move forward. They’re taking advantage of low-interest rates and these opportunities. I think there’s going to be that going forward as well. There will be a push as everybody gets let out of jail but then there’s going to be another surge later on. What are your thoughts about that?

I agree with that. As I said, people who went inward. Everyone had a lot of time on their hands to evaluate situations. I’ll even use myself as an example. I bought my main home in New Jersey when I was 25 years old. I said to my husband every weekend, “This home is special to me that this was my first home.” I own other homes in different states but this is my first home. It’s such a connection and it’s my haven. I think people have realized, “I want that. I need that and I’m going to do that.” A lot of Millennials that may have been on the fence before, I think they’re going to pull the trigger. I think they’re going to get rooted and say, “Maybe I don’t want to bounce all over the place. Maybe I do want to decide where I’m going to plant roots and stay put for a little while.” I think the purchase market will continue to increase.

I don’t think it’s going to be just Millennials. I can tell you that my kids who have children are feeling squished. I get all my stuff from DepositPhotos.com because then you get legal pictures for all your presentations. I found this picture of a sardine can that had been rolled back but in it was a house. Everyone’s doing like there are sardines in their house and there’s that group that wants to move and then there are people like me. My husband and I have a 6,000 square foot house for two people on 21 acres and I’m looking around going, “Let’s move. It’s time.” I think this is what’s going to push it. Let’s talk about housing demand because that’s going to put a big strain. We have pent up demand. We have a lack of housing. What do you think is going to happen in that?

I do think the builders will come back. We are known in the industry for construction products that went on suspense storing this whole thing. The reason why that happened is there were too many uncertainties. There were too many question marks of some state you couldn’t even build. In other states, you could. Some state you could get permits. Other states you couldn’t. There was a lot of question mark but I do believe that the builders are going to come back strong. I think you’re correct. There is a lack of inventory 100% regardless of the target of the country you’re in, it’s difficult.

I do think there’s going to be a combination. There will be the fixer-uppers that get the renovation loan and other things that we specialize in, and there will be builders coming back strong and developing in the parts of the country that have the availability of the land. For example, I’m in New Jersey. There’s probably not going to be as much building going on where we are because there’s not a lot of land, but there’s lots of land across the country. Another thing that we specialize in is manufactured housing. That is an interesting thing. Before I came to AFR, I had never done a manufactured home my entire life. My perception was the tin can trailer park.

My husband is trailer trash. He was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and they live in the Airforce base.

What’s interesting is that now these are beautiful. These are customized, they’re state of the art, they’re smart homes. They’re built to the latest and greatest where they’re telling the lights to turn on, everything is electronic and everything is a state of the art and energy-efficient. There are parts out in Silicon Valley, there’s a developer that these young kids are graduated with Computer Science degrees, trying to go out to San Francisco and they can’t afford a garage. They’re even building communities across the country of these brand-new manufactured homes where people have an opportunity. It’s still a home and it could be on land. It’s not in a park. It’s on its own piece of land. I would have never thought it, but that’s a great way for people to be able to buy their own home and think a little outside of the box.

There’s this thing called Buddy Loans and it’s like a matchmaking system service for friends who want to get homes together. It’s like two people saying, “I can’t afford it but we could go in on a house together and we’ll split the equity.” What do you think about what’s going on with commercial? Your entire team is working remote and I know my husband’s company and I’ve heard from some of my students that their companies are saying and Twitter has already said it too, “Don’t come back to work. Everybody’s remote from this day forward.” What do you think is going to happen with the commercial spaces that might get left unfilled or they won’t get filled back up again?

MLM 256 | Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic

Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic: Don’t look forward. Look backward. What that means is that not at any moment of what happens now do you want it to be a bad memory.

I think it is going to be a downturn on the commercial side. I’ll use us as an example. I have 60,000 square feet of the building sitting in New Jersey and I have ten people in that building. We speak about it all the time in our partners’ meeting of, “What are we going to do?” In New Jersey, a mortgage company is considered essential. We technically never had a close, but we did it out of the comfort of our team because people weren’t comfortable going to a building and we give them the choice, but we’re thinking the same thing. I had a record month and I’m sure this will be another record month. Lots of people were booming in business and I did an add not one more team member. The same team that I had, I closed probably 30% more working remotely. Why do I need to bring them back into the office?

There’s a white paper on this too, about how the commute plays on, how not with their kids and I know everyone’s complaining about their kids, “I have to homeschool them and all this stuff.” They’re not worried about their kids going to different places. We’ll have to see what happens when they are yanked from preparing a closing document because Susie is going to go to ballet practice. We’re going to see if it changes there. That efficiency or that proficiency would probably reduce, but I think overall people are happier, employees generally because they’re not sitting in traffic. They’re not worried about all that. They’re not spending money on clothes the way that they were, lunch and stuff like that. I want to get your opinion on it. My thought is that with pent up demand and lack of housing that we might see a lot of commercial conversions into condos.

I think you’ve seen that across the country, some of the malls have closed and they’ve become even where the bottom is commercial and then the top is our condos. You’re seeing that more and more. I guess just like they converted the malls, they’ll probably be going to do the same thing with these office buildings.

I want to step back a little bit here and talk about when you first started AFR. I want to know the story about how that came about because you and I were talking about this. We were saying, “It’s a funny story.” The reason why I want you to share it is that I believe in the importance of niche marketing and I’ve done that all my career. That’s what I teach. If you don’t like niche marketing, then don’t ever call me to be your coach because I’m going to tell you to niche. I niched and I closed over $1 billion in loans so you decide.

We’ll take you back to June of 2007. You’ve got a picture and you know what was happening back then.

The MortgageForeclosure.com website?

That was it. Every day you hoped your company’s name wasn’t on it. It was June of ‘07 and the whole industry was crumbling and nobody knew what was going to happen. I reached out to a friend of mine that was my account executive at IndyMac bank. I reached out to IndyMac and I say, “I’m nervous about where I am, I’m getting a little unsettled. I was wondering, do you know anywhere that is safe?” She laughed at me and said, “Do you think there’s anywhere safe at the moment?”

I said, “How about different?” She’s like, “As a matter of fact, I have a client and this particular client just got his full approval. He was a broker and now he became a banker and he has warehouse lines. He’s been doing retail for about ten years and he wants to start wholesale.” I said,I can do that.” She’s like, “Here’s his cell phone number.” I reached out and I met him. He said, “Here’s the concept, Laura. We’re going to offer one thing FHA down to a 500 FICO score. That’s it. It’s broker only. That’s all we’re offering. No correspondence, no other programs, no conventional one thing.”

“We’re going to control that underwrite to ensure we can sell it.”

They also said, “No salary, no benefits but you get to decide who you hire, how you run it, you get to run the show full control,” I called my husband, I have two kids, a mortgage, the whole deal. I said, “No salary, no benefits, but it’s my way.” My husband said, “You’re going to take it. Why are you calling?” At that moment, I said yes. I showed up on the first day, which was June 18, 2007, and he pointed to a desk and a computer.

He said, “There’s AFR wholesale, go.” At that moment, how I got into the mortgage business, I got to go back to understand how it ties together. I was a young mom. I was nineteen years old. Me and my husband had an oops baby and we decided we had no money. He went to work and I stayed home during the day. I was going crazy. I needed to do something and at that time, what you did at night, you telemarket it. The way I got into the mortgage is I called people and I said, “What’s your interest rate? I bet I can get you a lower interest rate at 6.75%.” Then the rates had come down.

You said you were nineteen so I immediately took myself back to my era because I’m older than you. When I got in it was 18.5%.

What happened was the rates had drastically dropped from then. That was the point where I got in. The rates had come down into the sixes. I did well-generating leads for a mortgage company. Going back to AFR, when he pointed to the desk and the phone, I went back to my roots. I started cold calling brokers. Within the first week, I had signed up numerous brokers. Within the first month, I had already started closing loans. I helped process the loans. I was the only account executive. Long story short, fast forward, within six months I was doing $100 million in business a month.

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Everybody needed that at that time.

Niching and finding where you can be the best and where you’re the option for your clients to be able to say, “Let’s manufacture. Who do I go to? I go to AFR.” I’m the fifth largest manufacturer home lender in the country and the first two are not mortgage companies. It’s Clayton and 21st because of the chattel. As I said, that’s the whole thing. I differentiate myself to say, “I’ll take your manufactured homes. I love manufactured homes. Bring them right here.” That created that niche. We differentiated ourselves. We found something that maybe other people were not comfortable with and we went to the market to say, “Bring them here. We want them.” That niche marketing is key 100%.

Otherwise, you’re selling everything to nobody. When you look at a lot of correspondent lenders now and wholesale lenders, they’re a dime a dozen. It’s like, “What do you do?” We were in the green room and that’s why I asked the question. It’s like, “What differentiates you?” Otherwise, it’s another wholesale lender. I love that you’ve done that and that you’ve even poked little holes in some of your other expertise while we’ve been talking so that somebody who’s reading will say, “It’s not just manufacturing, but it’s also renovating, construction and Gobis.”

I know Gobis are the big thing that you’re doing. Let’s talk about your Say Yes Everyday mindset. You have a blog and every day you have something different, say yes to something, say yes to this. You’ve been doing this for the last couple of years and its things and business things, but all of that is a mindset of positivity and that’s what people need. One of the things that you said in one of the panels that we were sitting on, or some meeting that we were in is that you still are dressing up. For those of you that are reading, you go look at the video, I’m in a summer dress and she’s in a suit. She’s dressed up.

Normally when I’m on stage, I would never do this. You decided, “I’m going to work. I’m going to dress for the job I want. I’m going to dress for success. I’m always going to have that mindset.” It does put you in a great mindset versus sitting around wearing yoga outfits and stuff, which I’m seeing a lot of people do. Tell us your whole take on positivity and mindset development as it relates to how do we emerge. I say this all the time. It’s not an emergency, it’s emerge and see. See the possibilities and opportunities that are there.

I’m going to give you the secret to my whole mindset. I encourage people to think like this, but I’m going to share with you how it all happened. The way that I look at every single day is as if I’ve already lived the day. Think about this, stick with me. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t look forward, I look backward. What that means is that not at any moment of what happens now do I want it to be a bad memory. I’ll give you an example. Every moment, we’ve already passed a whole bunch of moments.

With this conversation, that time has gone. We’re never getting it back. It’s behind us. It’s the past. I have the choice every single day that I’m giving up one day less that I will spend on this Earth. You have a choice every single day that you open your eyes of letting somebody else determine how you live that day, or you being in control of the day and the gift that you were given. There is never a day that I am going to allow someone to take away my positive thoughts, my happy connections, or the moments of time because that is a gift that I’m not willing to give to anyone.

The whole Monday thing, it’s a manic Monday. I was talking with one of my students and called and said, “We’re ready for coaching.” She’s like, “It’s a manic Monday.” It’s like the world’s falling apart and everything. We took a few minutes to pop her head back on straight so she could do her thing and we’ll coach a little later. It is like that. A lot of times, a lot of people and especially originators get up and say, “Today I’m taking charge. I have the reins.” Their processor calls them and then they metaphorically get in the back seat and they become Driving Miss Daisy all day.

You can’t go in with that mindset because remember, the day has gone. You want to look at it as if you’re looking behind you. It’s like, “I’m an originator and I’m going to crush it today. I’m going to take four applications. I’m going to lock five loads and I’m going to bring home two families.” All of a sudden something goes wrong on the Smith family and now you’re worried. “No, because what did I decide today was going to happen. There is an issue with the Smith family and we need to resolve it. We’re not ignoring that things are going to go wrong.” That’s life.

You’re in the wrong business if you don’t think anything’s going to go wrong every day.

You have to decide at that moment, are you then going to have that one thing wipe away everything that you were going to accomplish, or are you going to solve the problem? Everybody in the mortgage business, we’re all problem solvers. That’s why we’re here. We’re going to solve the problem and then I’m going to say, “What was I looking to accomplish today?” You might not accomplish it all and that’s okay. You can keep going. You have another day. We’re going to keep going. If you focus only on that, who are you hurting?

MLM 256 | Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic

Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic: Everybody in the mortgage business is a problem solver.

It’s like, “I’m defeated. I can’t this, that and the other.” I can’t stand that stuff. I love that you have put this blog together. I hope you come out with an app on it as well because it would be good to get a notification every day to say yes. It would be cool to get that ping that comes in every day and tells me. Maybe you have to set up a text system so that you can send it out every day to everybody. It’s like the truth bombs that you and I are looking at that I get every day. It’s like, “Here’s the truth. Here’s what’s going on.”

They’re great affirmations. Everything that you have is positive. There are a couple of things that I always say. Are you bitter or are you getting better every day? It’s one of my yin and yang that I use all the time is because we can get down about this underwriting change, that underwriting, this thing happened and that thing happened. I think that if we can use each one of those as a way to get better, not to be bitter about it, that’s important. The other thing is I hear people say, “I have to make phone calls. I have to take care of this. I have to do this.”

No, you get to. I get to make phone calls and make a difference in someones’ life. I get to solve this problem because I know I’m going to get them to closing. No matter whose fault it is, it doesn’t matter. I get the opportunity to resolve this so they can put their heads down in their pillow every night. I think that’s important. Laura, I want to ask you, what do you do to keep motivated? You have your blog Everyday, but now you created that opportunity. Prior to that and maybe in addition to that, where are you getting your daily motivation and inspiration?

I’m a lifelong learner. I love to read and I love to consume positive things. The minute I wake up in the morning, there’s a morning meditation and then as I’m starting my day, I start my day early, even working from home. I still start my day at 6:00 AM, regardless if it was in the office or at home. While I’m doing my reports for the day, I’m listening to a lot of times to YouTube videos or I’m listening to other positive messages that give me something to listen to in the background that’s feeding my brain at all times. I never stopped reading. I never stopped listening. I’m always looking for new things to consume that will continue to inspire me and continue to motivate me.

I’ve been interviewed many times, “Is your life rainbows and sunshine?” Of course not. I’ve had to give lots of bad news many times a day. It’s difficult and it’s challenging. Sometimes I do have to have a lifeline to a friend or I have a wonderful husband that’s been with me since being nineteen and starting our family young. I’m like, “You just have to listen. You don’t have to comment. Just let me vent so that I can get it off my chest.” You have to have that tribe, whether it’s friends, it’s family or your partner. You need people like that too, but never stop giving. Surround yourself with other people that think like you. I can’t have someone that’s Debbie Downer all day in my life. It doesn’t work for me. That’s another important thing.

We’ve talked about that in the past in traditional financing and corporate environment way back. It’s that cancer in the office. It can’t be there and that cancer can spread. Even during COVID, I’ve had one day that I broke down. My husband works for the mortgage division of a bank so he’s the only loan officer sitting. He has a mortgage office but he hasn’t been there for several months. He goes to one of the bank branches where all there is is a manager and a teller. One day he comes home and he goes, “Have you been crying? Do you want to talk about it?” I’m like, “I just want to cry about it, let me cry. I don’t even want to tell you why.” It’s like cleansing and stuff, and nothing happened.

The pivot that we were making and everything coming at you is like, “I need this funnel and that funnel and I have to hire people,” and that’s what I’ve done during this. In twelve weeks, I did a full year. I accelerated my business one full year in twelve weeks. It was a lot to pull on, virtual assistance team, team members. I think it came to a head where I was writing notes on top of notes and couldn’t figure out and then, “Now I can reset. I’m ready to go.” I’m always a positive person too, but we do have our moments. I think that’s cool moments.

Those moments are okay.

We all need them and by the way, he’s had that moment too. I don’t know if he’s cried, but he came close to it.

I think everyone during this process has.

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Believe me, he’s had some challenges and it has been our internet. We have 21 acres which we have, a beautiful internet, but when everybody else on 20 and 40 acres comes to our home, it’s a mess. That’s why he goes into work and I get to work here by myself. I want to ask you about a favorite quote or a quote that guides you. Do you have a favorite quote that guides you?

I love the one with live life to the fullest. There’s a second piece to it that I should know of at the top of my head. It’s on my wall in my house and I can’t remember it. It’s important to me. I’m not willing to give up not even one of my days, not one. Every single day, it doesn’t have to be my birthday. It doesn’t have to be Christmas. It doesn’t have to be in summer. It doesn’t have to be a Saturday.

It doesn’t have to be 100% either.

Every single day is a gift and I live it as if it’s a gift. I maximize every single one. Another philosophy of mine is I always want to make anyone that ever speaks to me or comes in contact with me feel better than they did before. If it’s a client or a friend, whoever it is, I want them and that’s why people say, “Your energy is good.” I’m giving that energy to whomever I’m speaking to. If you will never meet me and be, “Laura wasn’t energetic.” My gift to whoever I’m communicating with is my energy.

It comes through and hopefully, that’s what everybody read on this episode as well. I want to ask you if someone wants to get in touch with you to talk about mindset or to have you speak at an event or virtually, or they want their company to reach out to you, what is the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Laura@AFRWholesale.com is my email. I would love for you to follow me every which direction. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, go for it. I’m all over social media. Years ago you said, “Where did you come from?” All of a sudden, we’re on stages and events together. I’ve been in the business since the ‘90s, but I always was running the business behind the desk. In 2018, when margin compression was a real thing, I was asked to speak somewhere and once that happened, that’s where say, yes. Now I realized that social media and the speaking and all of that, it’s positively affecting other people. It’s because of that that I continue to do it because I believe that anytime you can share positivity with others, you should continue to share.

No question, because it becomes contagious and we know that even from the advertisement. About the person who opens the door and then the next person who picks up a paper. I want to say, thank you for joining us. It’s been an absolute pleasure getting to know you. I’m sure we’re going to be on more stages together if not virtual, we’ll be on actual stages. I look forward to it and I want to thank you for all your positivity that you’re doing. If you’re reading this and you now have this gumption to be positive, then keep it going, keep the wheel going. Don’t let anything stop you. Make sure that you’re looking at her blog every day. I’ve enjoyed it and I purposely have gone on, because we were going to have this interview. I wanted to make sure that I was reading it and understanding it.

Thank you, Jen. It’s been a pleasure.

MLM 256 | Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic

Navigating The COVID-19 Pandemic: Make anyone that ever speaks to you or comes in contact with you feel better than they did before.

You’re welcome. Thank you again for reading and I want to remind you, please go and write a review and give us a great rating. We need more reviews. I always need more reviews, but the more you can do the better we go. If you’re reading on your phone, you simply scroll down and you can write the review right there. If you’d like to become a member of our elite group, our private membership group, please make sure that you go to MortgageLendingMastery.com and get the information there about being part of our elite special group. We will catch you next time.

 

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About Laura Brandao

Laura Brandao is the President and the only woman partner of AFR. Armed with a decade of experience, determination and belief in herself Laura Brandao started AFR Wholesale in 2007 and she had her high heel in the door and never turned back.

Laura was named one of the 20 Businesswomen to Watch in 2020 by Inside Success Magazine and a 2020 Top Women in Finance, also one of the Best 50 Women in Business by NJBIZ in 2019, a HousingWire Women of Influence every year since 2018, as well as one of Mortgage Banking’s Most Powerful Women by National Mortgage Professional in consecutive years, and is a Women with Vision award winner. Laura currently serves as Chair of both the AIME Women’s Mortgage Network and NAMMBA’s Visionary program.

In April 2018 Laura underwent a transformation when she started to write a book. As she detailed out her story, she realized that most of her success both personally and professionally was due to a “say yes everyday” mindset. So, she started to test the theory as each day began, she would open her mind and say YES.

Since that day Laura has become the President of AFR she has started her own pod cast and she moderated 14 panels, been an expert panelist 13 times and been a pod cast guest 19 times and she was a key note speaker at the Bellagio in Vegas speaking to an audience of almost 2000 attendees, all in less than 12 months.

The biggest thing that Laura has learned is that if you go into every situation with no preconceived notions or expectations you can do ANYTHING. Laura feels that as humans we cause our own fears or let downs because if things don’t turn out the way we expected them to but, by realizing that you are doing it to experience something new there is no possible let down because as long as we did something for the first time we WON!

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