Over the last year, Taylor Morrison Home Funding experienced 2% growth in loan volume and an increase of 17% in staffing. The homebuilder’s mortgage company also has increased its geographic footprint by 33% nationally, operating in nine states and 14 markets.
Taylor Morrison Home Funding grows as the homebuilder grows, becoming licensed as a lender in each market. The publicly held homebuilder has purchased three regional homebuilders in three years and is rapidly adding market share.
Tawn Kelley knows the business well. For eight years she owned and operated Mortgage Funding Direct Ventures, which partnered with production homebuilders to create in-house mortgage subsidiaries. Taylor Morrison bought the company in 2009, with Kelley at the helm.
“I started my company with a triangle in its logo,” she said. “The customer is on top, the builders are on the left, and the lenders are on the right.
“I’ve always kept the customers at the top, but that wasn’t always the perception or the case in the overall builder-lender environment. Our core values have stayed the same, we’ve just been given the opportunity to grow and do more than I could as an individual owner.”
Five years ago, Kelley created the Able Ready Own qualification improvement department to help break barriers of entry into homeownership.
So far, 397 ARO graduates have improved their credit profiles and purchased a home. Another 240 families are actively working with ARO.
She receives numerous letters and emails from customers who have been helped by ARO, thanking her for caring enough to take the time to help them secure an affordable home.
“My focus today is about every customer who wants to buy knows what their opportunity is from a finance perspective,” she said.
Employees act as consultants in the field, and aren’t afraid to tell customers “not right now.”
Prospects who come into the homebuilders’ communities who have had blemishes or challenges due to the economic meltdown benefit from ARO. Participants can stay in the free program as long as they wish, and once their credit meets the requirements will hopefully want to buy from one of Taylor’s homebuilders, Kelley said.
“When they graduate and can walk into a model and say ‘Now I’m ready to buy,’ that is so big,” she said.
While Kelley hasn’t actively sought out industry partners, through Mortgage Funding Direct Ventures (where Kelley serves on the board of advisers), Mattamy Home Funding, which has been in existence for eight years, and Mortgage Funding recently formed Neal Communities Funding.
“It’s the right opportunity to create a strong mortgage structure and allow volume to provide us leverage and give us a competitive opportunity,” she said. “Scale does matter.”
After 30 years in the industry, Kelley doesn’t get excited about economic highs and lows. She understands that she needs discipline to navigate the highly regulated and complex mortgage industry, but never forgets who the customer is and how she can make it easier for them to get in the door.
Part of that process is making sure they understand and appreciate that the due diligence process benefits both them and the lender.
Another big challenge is maintaining and cultivating a culture as the company expands and grows. The key is finding the right alignment to ensure the company can grow for the long term, shift with the landscape and maintain quality, she said.
“We create the best platform we can to earn the business and give our customers the best we possibly can from a mortgage perspective,” Kelley said.