Recognizing opportunities during times of uncertainty is a key element in growing a business. Join Jen Du Plessis and The Queen Latina, Melissa Barba, as they delve into adapting in the marketplace during the pandemic and what we should do when challenges come. Melissa is a mortgage expert and the author of Awaken the Queen Within: Creating Your Life by Design. In this episode, she will discuss mortgage practices, inventory, appraisals, listings, sales, realtors, and much more. In addition, she elaborates on how being highly organized made her succeed in her professional journey and how she took the pandemic as an opportunity to build her business.
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Recognizing Opportunities In The Mortgage Market During The Pandemic With Melissa Barba
In this episode, I have the wonderful luxury of interviewing Ms. Melissa Barba who is a mortgage expert. She is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Master Practitioner, Transformational Coach, Founder of Awaken The Queen Within Movement, Amazon number one bestselling author, and an international keynote speaker. I am excited to have you here with us, Melissa. How are you?
I am wonderful. Thank you so much, Jen. It’s an honor and pleasure to be here in your show, knowing that you’ve had the longest-running show in this industry. It’s great and awesome. I love your show. I was taking it in when you talk about the millennium. It’s great.
Thank you so much. Melissa is also known as Queen Latina and you do Latin dancing on the weekends. I’m a ballroom Latin and swing dancer. I do competitions and it’s fun.
It had been my dream to dance forever. I always taught myself because I didn’t have a partner. I’m like, “I need a partner.” I didn’t want to just dance with anyone until finally, I was like, “I’m going to dance by myself.” I joined a team and it’s been the best.
It’s good to dance with other partners and not have an exact partner because you learn how to not lead because so many women lead. It is good for you to learn the different styles that everybody has. In addition to that, you’re also reaching the top 6% of income earners in the United States as a minority single mother. That speaks volumes about you. I want to dig in and talk about some of the things that you’re working on. I want to talk about your mortgage practice as well and what you’re seeing in the marketplace now, how things have changed for you, and what you’re doing right now as things are starting to calm down. Everybody is maskless, which is nice. We’re starting to get back to some sense of normalcy. How are you changing your business as well? Dissect us a little bit about your business and what you’re doing moving forward.
We’ve all had to adapt ever since COVID. Honestly, I saw it as a big opportunity because when COVID hit, immediately within the first week, I was excited. I said to myself, “A lot of people are going to freak out. This is my time to push harder.” When everybody was in panic mode, I was working harder, talking to my realtors, and telling them this is all about mindset. This is opportunity time and 2020 was my best year. That was great. I was also able to shift my business to remote. That was a huge advantage for me. Now, I have more time for myself, for my kids and my clients are as happy.One of the things that are a must right now, whether you like it or not, is staying active in social media. Click To Tweet
That was a huge advantage for everyone. As far as how everything is moving along right now with the market, we know that there’s a shortage of inventory. It’s a matter of setting realistic expectations with our clients and borrowers, and letting them know that this is not going to be a sprint. This might be a little bit of a marathon. What I would have advised you in the past doesn’t apply right now. I would have never been okay with a borrower removing appraisal contingencies in the past. Right now, if you want to house, you pretty much have to overbid $10,00, $20,000. Before, they would have been, “You have a bad realtor,” if you do that. Now, it’s like, “Do you want a house or not?” That’s pretty much it. Are you willing to do what it takes? If you’re not, it’s okay. Sit tight, wait, be prepared and pre-qualify yourself. I do have my analytical clients doing the numbers. I’m like, “The numbers are not going to add up right now.” If that’s what you’re looking for, don’t look. However, if you are, get ready, be prepared and pre-qualify. When an opportunity comes in, you’re ready. That’s it, simple.
I like that you have the confidence to say that because many people don’t. They’re concerned about their clients and they might go someplace else, which they’re going to go and sit on the backburner anyway. I love that you have the confidence to be able to do that. When you think about the gifts that have that for others are not gifts, what are those? Someone else is struggling and you’re saying, “I don’t understand it. It’s so easy for me.” What are some of the gifts that you have in the mortgage space?
I do make miracles happen. I know it sounds like a weird gift that I could say I have in the mortgage business but it’s not in the mortgage business. It’s everywhere because I have that mindset. I don’t have a college education. I have a high school diploma. I come from working and that’s my experience. My experience from working with my dad for ten years, since I was fourteen years old was solving problems. That was my job. I was a firefighter. As a loan officer, honestly, that’s what we do. Some people think, “It’s just pushing paper.” Yes but when the challenge comes, what do you do?
I never take no for an answer. If somebody tells me no, I go ask the other person. If this person didn’t help me, then I go ask the other person. I ask the other person until I get it. I could become a pain in the ass for some of the underwriters or processors or whatever, but I get it done. That’s been one of the biggest gifts that allowed me to build my business. Our realtor partners or the clients that I work with saw that I never gave up. In my whole history as a loan officer, I had maybe 1 or 2 deals that didn’t go through. It was because of things that were beyond me like we can never get the transcripts and it was a self-employed borrower. There was no way and I couldn’t do anything, or they lost their job during the transaction. I’ve had some difficult cases. Because of that, they stick with me and they never leave me.
That’s pretty impressive that you’ve only had a couple of deals that haven’t gone through, given that many people do have conversion issues or fall out that happens for whatever reason. What do you contribute that to other than the resilience that you have, and the pushing and wearing people down? Underwriters go, “Okay, fine.” Where do you think that comes from? Is it that your message is very clear about what you want in your practice so that you only get the type of business that you want? Do you think it’s the niche that you’re in with that messaging? Where do you think that stems from? Is it the guidelines? You know your guidelines inside out and backward. You don’t bring anything in. You stop it at the door. Many loan officers bring stuff in and say, “We’ll give it a shot,” but no one heard that. They think you took it and issue closed. Give us some insight into how you have that type of a low fallout ratio.
I pretty much underwrite the file myself from the get-go. I have an absolutely complete file. I’m extremely organized and all of my PDFs are numbered. I always tell my processors, underwriters and everyone that I work with, “I want to be your favorite person to work with.” That’s my motto. I want them to see a file from me and want to work my file versus somebody else’s because they know it’s going to be clean. Even if it’s a complex file, it’s still organized and I have notes and everything. One of the biggest things is that I am very thorough from the beginning. I go above and beyond, and I ask questions until I have a satisfying answer. Even then, if it’s a little bit risky, I do let the borrower, the client or the realtor know, “This is a 50/50 chance. We are going to do everything we can. These are the risks and I am going to do this with you. It’s not going to be the easiest but we are going to give it our all.” I am extremely honest to a fault sometimes. I turned down many refinances because I don’t get business for business. It’s because it’s going to be beneficial for the client.
It’s so funny that you say that because I remember years ago when everybody was doing short sales, there was a blip in the market and all of a sudden, everybody was doing short sales. Every real estate agent has all these listings. I used to say to them, ”Do you want to be a listing agent or do you want to be a selling agent?” There’s a difference. You could have 70 listings at that time. That’s what they had, “Another listing,” but they weren’t selling anything. It’s the same thing in our industry when someone says, “I have a $15 million pipeline, but I’m only closing $2 million a month.” There’s a problem there. Do you want to have a big pipeline or do you want to close loans? What I’m hearing from you is, “I want to close loans. I don’t want to have a big pipeline for the sake of having a big pipeline. I want to close loans.”
I’ve had clients that are like, “I want to refinance because my friend refinanced.” I’m like, “You’re only going to save $100 a month and you’re going to pay $10,000 in closing costs. It’s going to take you eight years to recuperate that. If you were my mom, my aunt, my sister, I would advise you not to.” I’m like, “I don’t think this is good for you, but if somebody else is willing to do something that is not good for you, I’d rather them be the ones to do it, not me.”
That’s the accordion loan. I always said that 30-year fixed and you squished it in for a couple of years, then you pull it back out, then you push it in, then you pull it back out. You rob yourself of equity every time you do that. We have been in our house for seventeen years. We got a 5/1 ARM seventeen years ago and we have never refinanced because my rate is always better.
Do you keep refinancing into 5/1 ARM?
No, we have never refinanced ever. We did the five years and now it’s been a one-year ever since. That’s not to say that’s what we do on our investment properties. We refinance them to get better cashflow and stuff, but for our own home, we did a 5/1 ARM and we had a one-year ARM for seventeen years. We never had a need to. Our rate is perfect. We’re a low three. We’re now close to the margin. It’s pretty interesting. What are some of the tools that you’re using in your practice, some apps, tools, software? What’s your CRM? How do you keep in touch with people? What are some of the things that you’re using so we can share with everyone some of the things that are out there in the market?It's not about the amount; it's the quality of the relationship. Click To Tweet
One of the things that is a must, whether you like it or not, is staying active in social media. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I think we all do. As a professional in real estate, you have to. Now it’s not having a website. It’s having a social media presence. That’s where people go and look for you. That’s the one thing that I could always do better. At the same time, one of the things I do is always keep sharpening myself by taking courses, training or being part of a community and environment that’s keeping me sharp in my mind and my attitude.
The mortgage industry is not going to provide that for you or the real estate industry. Maybe the real estate, a little bit more than the mortgage industry. I’ve seen it with the big offices. They have their team meetings and all that, but you don’t see that much in the mortgage industry. You’ve got to take control of that into your own hands and make sure that you’re doing that. As far as social media, it’s a must. For CRMs, I love LionDesk. It’s the one I’ve been using pretty much ever since I started. They have video clips. They have everything, and lead generation.
I’ve attempted and I’ve done some Facebook ads and it’s been a trial-and-error learning curve. It’s like everything else. You keep trying new things until you find the one that works. It looks like I find one that’s way better. I’m excited for that one. At the end of the day, what always ends up being the best return of investment is the relationships. There’s no substitute for that. One of the other things that I would say and I had to apply to myself when I first started was that I only work with people that I like. Remember, I was at the beginning of my mortgage career and I was networking or trying to get business from as many realtors that I could and I met one realtor for lunch.
I was in the car park and he calls me while he was already in there. I declined the call because I couldn’t stand him. I’m like, “What am I doing?” I can’t even stand picking up the call. I’m about to go to lunch with him. I’m like, “I can’t do this.” I must do business with people that I would enjoy a meal regardless of whether do we do business together or not. When you have those types of relationships and they grow and flourish, people never leave you because they’re happy with you. That to me is the biggest key. It’s relationship building. It’s not about the amount. It’s the quality of the relationship.
How many people do you think your work with versus the peppering in or the sprinkling in of someone who sends you something once every six months or once a year, once every couple of years? How many people do you think you work with on a regular basis?
I have my good ten that are solid, and they’re not the big producers. I don’t focus on the big producers. I like the people who appreciate my service because those are the ones that are a little bit underserved and they appreciate that I call them back. They appreciate that I pick up the phone every time they call me. They appreciate that I call their clients right away. I like to work with people who appreciate my service. I tend to see that the top producers, everybody’s after them. Everybody’s offering the moon and the stars, and you end up working way more for no appreciation.
Those that have been following the show for years know exactly what I’m going to say about working with people that you like. That is we work with people that compliment us, not complicate us. That was my strategy for being in the business as long as I was and being a top producer. I only worked with people that compliment me. If they cause trouble and make my processor or someone on my team cry, or don’t have their act together and want to throw their monkeys on my back, move on to the next. Life is too short. I love that you’re saying that as well. That’s powerful for people to know. We don’t have to be everyone’s beck and call girl or guy. We don’t have to.
On that note, not just in our business but with any business, I did have some top producers and we had a long relationship that was very good. However, when I got to the point where the majority of my business was coming from this one partner at once, I was like, “This is not healthy,” because they start feeling that they have power or control over you. I made a bold move. Not that I cut it off but I stopped pursuing it and took that leap of faith and said, “My business doesn’t come from this person. My business comes from the universe. It comes from God and it comes from my certainty and my alignment.” When I made that decision, I started getting other people out of the blue contacting me from Facebook, from Instagram, wanting to do business with me.
Sometimes that’s something that a lot of people don’t consider. Your association with the top producer, if someone has a bad taste in their mouth about them, it could be that it’s hurting your relationships with others. They’re like, “If she got any business, she would give it to that top producer and not to me. I don’t think I’m going to work with her.” I’ve heard real estate agents say that on stage on panels. It is something to consider. It doesn’t mean you don’t. It’s just a consideration. I’m not telling you all what to do. Thank you so much for sharing all that. We were talking about this in the green room and I know a couple of loan officers that are doing this right now.
I’m already many years in this business. It’s exciting to see others taking the path that I had taken and others have taken where we have worked so hard in the business and said, “There’s got to be more out there. There’s a pull or passion that’s pulling you. For me, that was coaching, mentoring, speaking and sharing my lifestyle business mastery that you can’t have it all in this business, and I want to share that. I know you’re making that transition or starting to play in both sandboxes a little bit more. One of the questions that I want to talk about in that space is that you can shift your emotional state in 68 seconds or less. I want to know how you’re sharing that with people that you work with. I know you work with a lot of women, but this is for men too. We need to be able to shift our state in 68 seconds or less.
I cannot credit that technique to myself. I have not reinvented the wheel. I’ve studied a lot of people. One of my favorite mentors is Abraham Hicks. I don’t know if you’ve heard of her before. Abraham Hicks is actually a woman. She’s Esther Hicks but she goes by Abraham Hicks. She wrote the book The Law of Attraction. It was in the book, The Secret. She has infinite YouTube videos. I literally became obsessed with listening to her material for about two years straight. She teaches you how to bridge the gap from when you’re in a negative state to a positive state. The answer is number one, forget about the subject.
Let’s say someone is stressed out about money and they’re in a negative state because they’re struggling with money or whatever. You would not even attempt to feel better about money. First of all, you forget about the subject and start being grateful for neutral things that you can be sincere about and feel genuinely grateful like, “I’m grateful for the food I had this morning. I’m grateful for my breakfast. I’m grateful for the air that I breathe and that I’m alive. I’m grateful for my children.” You keep going on that rampage of gratitude until you get to a place that you’re grateful for it and you start bridging it.
The issue is not as big as it seems.
She says, “Esther, what you’re saying is that you have your head on the sand?” Pretty much. She’s amazing, adorable, funny and brutally honest. Anytime I will have a negative state or thought, instead of calling my sister, calling a friend to vent about it, I would call my best friend, Abraham Hicks, and play a video of her and go into one of her rampages and realize that it’s a choice. Start doing that attitude on something completely unrelated that you can feel gratitude about.
I’m doing a retreat with all my clients and one of the things that I’m going to be talking about is something very similar. I’m calling it Going From Crappy to Happy. Changing your state of mind, going from crappy to happy and understanding how to do that. I love that you’re talking about this and I appreciate you sharing a new person. I’m an avid reader. I have tons of books and I can’t wait to get your book. I read a lot of books, but I don’t always know the author’s names. A lot of times, I do but not always, so thank you for sharing that because I’m reminded that it is The Secret.
She does fifteen-minute rampages. Her videos are so short and quick and it will boost you.
What are your top five daily essential habits?
I love habits. I’m a creature of habit, we all are. It’s just a matter of if they’re good or not. Number one is I wake up in gratitude. I don’t get out on the bed without saying, “I’m so grateful for my bed,” to psych myself. I learned that from Abraham Hicks too. As soon as I do that, I get up, get ready and go straight for a walk, do yoga, or go to my dance class. My workout has to be in the morning, as soon as I wake up. I do my gratitude journal, which is a part of another program that I’m part of. I write five things I’m grateful for. I workout and I stick to my diet and it gives you points. What did I focus on today? It helps me see, did I use my time wisely or not? Did I have any wins today? What were those? What was the lesson that I learned?
It’s on a daily basis. I do it in the morning, so I can get my points, but then at night, I redo it because to me it’s so important to go at night doing an inventory of all those things. My other habit is to do at least 10 to 15 minutes of yoga before I go to sleep with my app in meditation. I’m sure you know that the last thing we do at night and the first thing we do in the morning are the most important. They’re going to determine the rest of the day. They’re all connected. My night and my morning, they have to be in that state and a prayer of things as well. I also drink a gallon of alkaline ionized water a day.The last thing we do at night and the first thing we do in the morning are the most important. Click To Tweet
I know you’re into the alkaline. It’s interesting because my husband’s into that too. He’s always giving me that. I love that. Beautiful habits, beautiful way to live your life. It’s been an absolute pleasure having this opportunity to speak with you and get some insight. I hope that things go well for you. I wish you all the best in the future as you’re exploring, doing this transformation, and moving things along. I know you’re not moving out of lending. You’re just transforming into something else, a little more for yourself to feel that you’re giving back.
That’s part of why I chose the name that I chose because it wasn’t given to me. It was claimed by me. That’s what I teach in the book. Nobody’s going to come and give it to you. You have to claim it. I feel there’s so much to life and lending is one aspect. There are also all the other aspects of life and I want to share all of that with everyone as well. Thank you so much. The pleasure was mine. I love connecting with you and knowing what I know even more about you now. We will have to connect outside of the show because I love to follow in your footsteps as well. You’re doing everything that I aspire to continue to do.
I’m a little further downstream from you. We’re going down the same path.
We follow successful people, so I’m going to be calling you for that.
Thank you. I do the same for others. I have people that are further downstream for me that we need as well. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you. I appreciate it and I wish you all the best in the world. I want to tell everybody, thank you so much for reading. As usual, I love that you take time from your daily routine to be on the show. Thank you so much for always supporting me and continuing to support us. I look forward to catching you on the next episode.
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