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Mortgage

NewRez, Shelter Mortgage on the rise of joint ventures

This week, HousingWire’s Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler interviews Michael Iorio, senior division manager of joint venture at NewRez, and Randy VandenHouten, executive vice president and chief financial officer at Shelter Mortgage.

In this episode, Iorio and VandenHouten examine the popularity of joint ventures in the housing space and discuss what makes a good partner from their perspective.

Here is a small preview of the interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:

Sarah Wheeler: Let’s talk about those partners and how you choose them. From your perspective, what makes a good partner?

Michael Iorio: I’d say, first and foremost, it’s partner engagement. Why is that partner interested in the joint venture? Today, there are many companies that are interested in the JV space because of the additional revenue that can bring into their organization, and that’s extremely important and we can’t forget about the revenue or the income stream that comes in, which allows a lot of our partners to pay for a lot of other things that are more core to selling homes or listing homes. But going back to the partner engagement, truly, why are they there? If they’re just there for the dollar, that falls apart over time. But if they truly have a vested interest in the hiring and the leadership, and an interest in building a culture of the joint venture by spreading the word within their agent community about why a referral to the mortgage partner is important and how it will better their business for customers or clients overall experience, that’s when you have a good partner. And that’s where our most successful joint ventures are. I mean, we have some partners that have been with us for 25 years plus, and those that are the most successful, and the longest-tenured are those that are at that level of engagement.

The Housing News podcast explores the most important topics happening in mortgage, real estate, and fintech. Each week a new mortgage or real estate executive joins the show to add perspective to the top stories crossing HousingWire’s news desk. Hosted by Sarah Wheeler and produced by Alcynna Lloyd.

Below is the transcription of the interview. These transcriptions, powered by Speechpad, have been lightly edited and may contain small errors from reproduction:

Sarah Wheeler: Randy and Mike, so excited to have you on the podcast today.

Mike Iorio: Thank you, nice to be here.

Sarah Wheeler: Nice to have you. So the first question we always want to ask people is how did you get in the business? When you were eight, were you like, “Yes, this is what I want to do. I want to do joint ventures some day.” What’s your story?

Randy VandenHouten: Well, certainly that not my career goal when I was eight. But I really came into the joint venture business or the mortgage business, for that matter, backdoor. So I was really a accountant by background and I worked for a large bank, regional bank, and I became a controller for a smaller institution to do joint ventures. So I eventually grew through that.

Alternately, became…with, at that time, Shelter Mortgage, but ultimately, rose through the ranks. And Shelter was sold through private equity, and I went with Shelter, and lo and behold, I’m in the sales area now, looking for new relationships, managing current relationships. And so it just kind of evolved over the last 23 years or so.

Sarah Wheeler: That does seem like, you know, the relationship part of that is what stands out to me. You know, you think that’s the key to this whole thing and what you’re doing now.

Randy VandenHouten: It absolutely is. Really, joint ventures is all about relationships. And that’s the part, frankly, that I enjoy is getting to know our partners, our real estate partners, and really having a relationship with them and getting to know them on a business, on a personal and professional level. That’s really what it’s about. When I take everything away, that’s so much different than what I grew up in through the accounting or finance world. That’s the part that I enjoy the most.

Sarah Wheeler: Interesting. Mike, what about you?

Mike Iorio: Not nearly as exciting as Randy. I was in the commercial banking space in Chicago. We moved to California after my oldest one was born, that’s where my wife is from, and I needed a job. And my sister-in-law was working for World Savings, got me a job, you know, an interview at World Savings, and that’s how I ended up in the mortgage space, and then, navigated through World Savings and Wachovia and Wells through that time, you may remember back in 2004 to 2009, and ultimately ended up in the joint venture space when an opportunity came up with Wells Fargo was they were the largest player in the joint venture space at the time. They had a JV that needed a president, they had a change in leadership, and I was…I happened to know a few people inside the organization who thought that it would be a good fit. And then that’s ultimately how I got into the joint venture space was by running one of the larger JVs that they had in the San Francisco Bay area.

Sarah Wheeler: Well, you know, that’s the topic of our conversation. We’re really excited to, kind of, dive into why now we’re seeing so many joint ventures, why they make sense right now. So maybe you can give us, because of that background, give us a sense of, like, what’s changed and why joint ventures or how joint ventures are different right now than when you started.

Mike Iorio: I think joint ventures are different today. There’s much more scrutiny about how they’re structured organizationally, compliantly, wanting to ensure that we are separate, we’re establishing separate independent mortgage companies, separately licensed, that are responsible for the origination of the loans, the quality of the loans, having everything set up, that it truly is an independent mortgage bank.

I think years ago, there was a little bit more latitude with the structure of these joint ventures. And therefore, there were more people involved. There were more players in the industry that were part of the JV space. And what you’re seeing today is there’s fewer and fewer and those that are in it, like Newrez, that are doing things the right way, that are spending an incredible amount of time and resources structuring the joint ventures so that they’re compliant. And ultimately, by doing all that, you know, we’re ensuring that they’re going to be successful for the long term. I don’t know, Randy, anything?

Randy VandenHouten: I would totally agree. Totally agree with that. You know, I think it’s so important is when you look for a partner or look to go into a joint venture space, that you set up…that structure is complete, is compliant. And really, once you’ve got that phase in place, you go through the hurdles of getting this joint venture, this mortgage origination company approved and running, from that point, then it’s really about the relationship that we spoke about earlier, about, you know, fitting the culture of the office and working with the partner, working together as a board to say, “Who’s going to be our leaders and how we staff it, that we’re gonna match the culture and we’re going to meet expectations.” That’s the part that really gets fun, right, when you start turning the corner from startup to really getting a successful mortgage company operating.

Sarah Wheeler: Well, let’s talk about those partners and how you choose them. And from your perspective, what makes a good partner, right? I mean, you’re, on your side, trying to be a good partner. What are you looking for in someone who, you know, is going to be a good fit for this?

Mike Iorio: I’d say, first and foremost, it’s partner engagement. Why is that partner interested in a joint venture? Today, there’s many companies that are interested in the JV space because of the additional revenue that can bring into their organization. And that’s extremely important. And we can’t forget about the revenue or the income, that stream that comes in, and that allows a lot of our partners to pay for a lot of other things that are more core to, you know, selling homes, right, or listing homes.

But going back to the partner engagement, it is, you know, truly why are they there? If they’re just there for the dollar, that falls apart over time. If they truly have a vested interest in the hiring, the leadership of the joint venture, they truly have a vested interest in building a culture of the joint venture, spreading the word within their agent community why a referral to the joint venture, to the mortgage partner is important and how it will better their business and their customers’ or clients’ overall experience, if they’re really invested at that level, that’s when you have good partner. And that’s where our most successful joint ventures are. I mean, we have some partners that have been with us for 25 years plus, and those are the most successful, and the longest-tenured are those that are at that level of engagement.

Randy VandenHouten: You stole the word, engagement is key, right? And it’s really about the relationships and building those relationships, not only from our level down to the real estate partner, but then, to the agents and to the loan officers, and really, that trust and depending, that when you come to us with a hard deal, we’re going to be able to meet those timelines and get that transaction closed and, you know, really help the end borrower, that consumer buying that home, and really, that we’re relying on each other, and it’s that relationship and that trust that we build over time. And exactly, we have joint venture relationships that are 25 years plus, you know, which again, strong relationships. And we understand the importance of meeting a closing. We absolutely do.

Sarah Wheeler: Great point on that. So, you know, you mentioned the money, you know, profitability is part of why these things make sense and why they make sense right now. So, you know, speak to that a little bit about how your partners see this, how this helps them be more profitable.

Mike Iorio: I’ll let you speak to the accounting part of it, Randy.

Randy VandenHouten: The accounting part.

Sarah Wheeler: The funnest part.

Randy VandenHouten: Obviously, you know, there’s an investment and that’s, you know… There’s an investment and we, both sides, invest money and get an entity approved. And there’s a timeline lag from when that investment is made till the entity’s approved and licensed and we’re right to originate. But once, you know, we staff up and we create that hurdle and cross that border, we start paying quarterly distributions based on ownership, which basically varies by market, you know, product mix and loan officer compensation and so forth. But I can say that we drive meaningful quarterly distributions to our realtor partners. And, you know, we have regular board meetings.

I think the thing that sets us apart is that…or we try to set us apart is that we are talking to our partners on a regular basis. We have regular meetings and it’s very transparent, you know, are very transparent in the income and costs. We talk about where we’re setting our margins, what our profit expectations are. and our partners can realize, in advance, you know, what they can expect for as far as their profit distributions. And again, it’s all based on ownership and it’s very structured and, you know, the board, ultimately, we work together to set all those parameters.

Mike Iorio: And we’ve also seen, with our most successful partners, that a successful joint venture, not only is the joint venture itself profitable, but it makes the real estate company a better company. Because those agents that are working with our loan officers, they have greater control over the transaction. There’s a greater sense of transparency. If something were to require intervention or escalation, it’s a big difference between knowing who that president of that joint venture partner is, and going to a branch manager at some national chain, and it’s a name but there’s no relationship that’s there.

So by having more control over the file or the transaction from start to finish, it’s a better experience for the client. More, excuse me, repeat clients that come back to you for future transactions and future home purchases. And then, it’s also used, frankly, as a recruiting tool to retain or attract top realtor talent, to come into to the brokerage. So it goes beyond just the profit and loss of the joint venture, and a really engaged partner can bring…can extrapolate additional value for their brokerage with a successful mortgage joint venture.

Sarah Wheeler: Well, I think it’s really interesting. You know, you talked about, at one point, the yes, we know we can do this loan, we can do it fast. And so, you know, I think about the pain points that your partners have right now, one of them has to be low inventory and, you know, how do you help in that? Or how does the partnership help in something…in the kind of environment we’re in right now?

Mike Iorio: Well, I think it’s important to know that the joint venture is the lender. It’s not a third party. It’s not getting brokered out. The joint venture is the lender. So the name on those documents is the name of the JV. So they’re the lender. They have the control points for escalations, for prioritization. And one of the things that we value is all of our joint ventures have access to fully underwritten pre-approvals, fully underwritten TBDs, depending on the market that you’re in and what they’re called. And that’s a whole heck of a lot different and a lot more reassuring than just going in there with having, you know, an automated, you know, AUS fire that they’re pre-approved, or that they’re approved, right.

So now you can come in, if you’re working closely with your partner, the realtor can go in and present an offer where really the only two outstanding conditions are a contract and an appraisal. And when you’re in a tight inventory market, where everything is…the timelines are compressed, if you can get to that point, where you just need to get to contract and have an appraisal, you’re going to win more than you’re going to lose. And it’s a much better experience for both the agent and the borrower, and quite frankly, the lender.

Sarah Wheeler: Yeah. And I was going to ask, you know, further on that, about the customer experience, how does this… You know, in this age, you talked about retaining those customers long-term, so how does the experience that they have… They don’t know it’s a joint venture, right? It’s just, here’s their lender or whatever. How does that retain them?

Randy VandenHouten: Well, they do know it’s a joint venture early on. Very early on in the transaction, we’re disclosing…the realtor, in fact, they’re disclosing that, you know, this is…that we’re affiliate lender. So know there’s the a relationship. Our loan officers are often in the same offices as our realtors. That puts additional pressure on us to perform, frankly. I mean, we’re in the office down the hall. And so they understand. The pressure’s on us to perform, and frankly, we do.

And, you know, I think our customer service surveys are very positive. And I think we do an incredible job measuring to recapture of that customer. Our metrics are very high. From that perspective, I think our customer service is very strong. And in this market, it’s really important that when you’re recommending someone, you have to make sure that that company’s gonna perform for them, because if they don’t, like everyone knows, there’s 22 people behind them ready to take the property.

That’s our agreement. That’s the model we live with every day, because we’re in that office. We’re around the corner.

Mike Iorio: And just add to that, the best realtors have teams. The best realtor, when you’re going to put an offer in on a home and when it’s accepted, they don’t let you just go and get any inspection. They direct you. This is the inspector we’re going to use for the foundation or the chimney or the general home inspection or the furnace. The best realtors also have a team of mortgage professionals that they rely upon because, you know, ultimately, the realtor has… Their commission is dependent upon closing the transaction and their future commissions are dependent upon repeat customers and referrals, right?

So I would say that those clients do know that the mortgage company is an affiliate and is a joint venture, because it’s part of that realtor’s team. If you do business with us, this is what we’re going to do to get you into…identify homes. This is what we’re going to do to get you into contract. And this is the experience you’re going to have once we’re in contract through closing, and whether that be with inspections, whether that be with financing, whether it be with title and escrow, because a lot of our partners also have title and escrow companies. So, you know, recommendations on insurance, soccer teams, all those things. I mean, that’s all part of what a realtor brings to the table. So I very much believe that the client knows that we are a part of that realtor’s team. And when they choose to do business with the client, with the realtor, they’ve also chosen to do business with one of our JVs.

Sarah Wheeler: Thanks for that clarification. Let’s talk a little bit about compliance. Right. We are in a time of, perhaps, heightened compliance, although really, I think everyone’s been, you know… The seven and a half years I’ve been in the industry, since the financial crisis, I mean, this is an ongoing theme. So talk about the compliance that you make sure you’re meeting that compliance with these JVs.

Randy VandenHouten: You know, certainly, our operation agreements, our service agreements, all our agreements need to be compliant. We constantly monitor our channel. And we do compliance reviews, both using internal resources and external resources. We look at potential shortfalls and we address them. When, you know, certain requests, which may sound very reasonable to a partner, may cause red flags for compliance issues, so we need to have those open conversations of how…you know, of why we can’t do things a certain way, we might have to structure it a different way, and explain that.

But I think compliance is so important. Because in any administration or any environment, you’re gonna be measured and not what….you know, you’re going to be measured on what you did yesterday. So it’s important that we always make sure that, you know, compliance first. So we are incredibly compliant, and it’s something that, when we talked to our partners, frankly, it’s a selling point.

Mike Iorio: Yeah. And I’d like to add to that. I mean, there’s not many in our industry that are in the joint venture space. And those that are… The Challenge Fund one has been in the business for over 30 years, like we have. Our legacy goes back through Shelter. So, you know, you’re not in this joint venture space, which has been scrutinized for years from a compliance standpoint, through several different administrations, through several different agencies, and doing it over multiple decades, if you’re not doing it correctly, right, and having the right level of attention to it. And it’s the part of our business that no one wants to talk about because it’s not…it doesn’t bring in revenue. It’s not glitzy and glamorous. It’s not sexy. None of the salespeople want to talk about it, but ultimately, that’s what allows us, every day, you know, to originate loans, to know that when we are audited, because we all will be, that we’re doing things the right way.

And that’s also why we’ve had partners with us for as long as we have and why we continue to attract new ones, because they want the mortgage experience not only to be a good experience, but they want it to be accretive to their real estate business. They don’t want it to be a distraction. And that’s why it’s also…you know, it’s that important to be with an established player, like Newrez, who has the history of doing it through a variety of markets, and why, you know, we have the kind of following that we do.

Sarah Wheeler: So you have recent ones with realty teams in DC and Atlanta, are there particular areas of the country you’re looking at first or is it not so much geography-based when you go to look for, you know, expanded partners?

Mike Iorio: I don’t think it’s geography-based. I mean, we’re looking for partnership first and folks that are coming to us, or that we identify when we are introduced that, you know, have the same ideals and the same vision for what the joint venture could turn into, right, because there’s months of work that go into these prior to launch. And then, once they’re launched, that’s really what the real work begins.

So we have successful joint ventures in all parts of the country. We’re licensed, you know, in all 50 states. And so there’s no bias towards one area versus the other. Our bias is towards working with really great people that see…you know, that have a common vision.

Randy VandenHouten: It’s the culture fit. It’s the relationship. I keep on coming back to that, but it really, it is. So yeah. And, you know, to the extent, it’s about the right opportunity.

Sarah Wheeler: So, you know, we’re doing this podcast at the Gathering of Eagles conference, put on by RealTrends and HousingWire and, you know, our great keynote speaker talked about how he finds that perfect cultural fit. It’s, like, you know, you’re going to hire someone, take them shopping. Like, get them out of the… Like, you have to get to the real who…at the heart of who that person is or, in this case, at the heart of who that company is, who the leaders are. How do you do that?

Randy VandenHouten: Well, really, it’s through introductions and it’s really through meeting face to face, It’s getting on a plane and getting into their office and spending time together, or having them come to Newrez and meeting Mike and myself and our leadership. And really sitting down and spending days together, really talking about product, pricing, models, philosophies, and that’s really… Over time, it’s how…

Mike Iorio: Anything over time is the key. These are not…so much of our business is done in 30-day increments. It’s a transaction, right? It’s a real estate transaction. It’s a purchase transaction. Joint ventures are not… Joint venture creation is not a transaction. It’s a relationship that’s built over months and over years.

You know, we’re very fortunate to have Al Miller who runs our business development team, who’s been in this business for longer than he’d like me to say. But what that allows is you have some history there and some trust there. And you pull on that. But still, even with that history and that trust, these still take months, in some cases, years to develop. And we’ve had examples where we’ve come close to the finish line and it hasn’t been the right fit. Whether it was on the Newrez side or the partner side, and I think we’d all agree, we’d rather find that out before you launch, right, than post-launch, but… This isn’t a transaction. This is a relationship that takes months and years to build. Because you’re doing this for…you’re looking for a successful venture that will be in business for 10, 15, 20-plus years down the road.

Randy VandenHouten: It’s very much like dating. It really is. And ultimately, you know, getting married. And really when we signed that operating agreement, we get married, in essence. Some of the relationships go for very long, others move very quickly. But it’s really about finding that trust in that relationship, in one other, and agreeing to move forward.

Sarah Wheeler: You know, having that expertise, over years of doing this, are there things you do differently now than you did when you started, or things that are red flags now that you recognize faster?

Randy VandenHouten: I think, it’s the latter. I think, obviously, in experience, you know, we’ve been doing this, both of us, have been doing this a long time. I think there’s red flags that we see quicker, that, you know, is this relationship going to work? So yeah, I think, experience is a factor there.

And I guess, you know, one of the things we all learn, we get better by learning from our experiences. I’ve made a few mistakes writing the…but the best I can do is to learn from those. So that’s really what I think we try to do. So yeah, there are red flags that we see that we’ll probably move on quicker than we did in the past.

Sarah Wheeler: So what are some of those red flags?

Randy VandenHouten: You know, I think, it’s an investment, right. And there’s so much more to this relationship, long-term, than just getting immediate profit. I think that’s one of the red flags for me, personally. I don’t know, Mike?

Mike Iorio: I’d like to focus more on why we’re together. I think that tells more of the story than finding why we shouldn’t be together, if that make sense? And what you find out during that process, and I touched on this a little bit earlier, you know, what’s the real intent and the real motivation. Of course, it’s profitability. Of course, it’s control, but do you have a partner that’s trying to build the culture, that wants to build a culture with you, that’s reflective of the two companies as they come together. How invested are they in finding the right leader who will run that company and will lead that company in a way that reflects both Newrez and the partner, the way that they want to be viewed? You know, and are those values being driven down into the hiring that they do every day and into the daily routines and the practices every day?

You know, so if you’re connecting on that level and you’re working with a partner who has, you know, been in the real estate business for a while, the red flags become…there’s fewer of them, because if you’re getting to that point, they’re obviously successful in what they do. And if we’re talking at that kind of a high level about what we want to build, usually, any obstacle that you encounter after that, you can overcome with some common sense and some determination.

Randy VandenHouten: Yeah, I agree. And, you know, as Mike pointed out, in these joint ventures, the most important thing, as we know, is the hiring of the leadership, right. And coming together and finding that leader together and making sure that that’s the right person, but you don’t want to hire too quickly. You want to find the right fit because you’re going to build culture and you want to build a culture, our joint cultures together, and finding that leader is so important, and then setting the proper expectations as we build it out. So I think those are all keys.

Sarah Wheeler: You know, I know you mentioned that some go faster than others, but typically, you know, if you’ve reached out to someone, they’ve reached out to you, what does it look like? What does that kind of due diligence timeline look like before you’re ready to jump in?

Randy VandenHouten: It, literally, could be two to three months, or it could be a year. And, you know, a lot of it depends on how intent… Look, we’re always anxious to move forward, but, you know, everybody’s got different business models and, you know, connecting, and is this a priority today or not? Many people have other transactions that they want to close, and then we’ll talk joint venture.

But realistically, if both parties are at a tight timetable, we can literally have that, you know, in three months, and then, really it’s working through the agreements and moving forward on that work, you know. And then the agreements, our legal agreements, and we get lawyers on both sides that make sure that we understand, you know, why the agreements are written…structured the way they are and make sure that they work for both parties.

Sarah Wheeler: You know, you’ve talked about the fact that so many fewer companies are doing this in the JV space than used to be. Do you think that’s changing? Do you think that’s going to change in the short term or you feel like people are still not really dipping their toes in here?

Mike Iorio: You mean mortgage companies that are offering joint venture platforms? No, we see others that are coming in. Every company, and mortgage companies are no different than any other industry, you need to find ways to continue to grow, continue to expand, right, and continue to drive revenue. And this is one area that was once dominated by the large depositories. And over the last 10 years, those depositories have run off and the independent mortgage banks have come to fill the space.

So you have a lot of folks, I think, that have the intention of trying to come in, because they’re trying to figure out how can I grow the top line? But we talked earlier about compliance. Nobody likes talking about that. The other one no one wants to talk about is the investment of time to build out this platform. This is different than retail. This is not just retail by another name. I mean, it’s different leadership, different technology. You’re leveraging one LOS for the entire company, but then each JV needs their own separate…you know, you need your own carve out of that. And how many LOSs are structured that way, that have that capability, that you have to have separate sets of docs, separate underwriter, all of those things. So that investment, it sounds great, yeah, let’s get into the space, but you really need to be committed. You need to have the financial wherewithal to be committed. And then you need to have the systems around you and, you know, the commitment from the…

You know, I mentioned the finances, it’s not just building out the infrastructure. It’s then you need to seed the capital for every one of these joint ventures. And then once you’ve seeded the capital, you need to have, you know, the stomach that the first couple of months may not be instant gratification, and they may need more seeding and more watering, right, and more feeding. And do you have a board of directors, whoever the bank is, whoever they report to, whatever that ownership structure is, do they see this as a short-term expense to get the JV channel launched? Or is it a long-term investment in building out a channel where the returns are going to come years down the road?

And right now, you know, everyone in our industry has been enjoying some incredible profits, some incredible margins. So these all sound like great ideas. But if you go back to 2018 and the margin compression we had then, and the profitability that we had then, suddenly, this may not seem as appealing or as appetizing. So I think that working with Newrez, companies like us that have, you know, that first mover advantage that we’ve made that investment over decades, so now we are just… Every day, we’re trying to better ourselves and try to look for new opportunities versus trying to build out a whole platform from scratch, at the height of the market, at the high to profitability, when everything seems easy. And we all know that that’s going to turn.

Randy VandenHouten: And you just need that ongoing support, even when you’re not in business development mode, right? If you have a stable or inventory of joint ventures, you need, we need ongoing resources that are dedicated to joint venture, whether it be it IT, as Mike mentioned, marketing, secondary, underwriting, sales, we have a full… You know, you need that ongoing. And legal, compliance, we have to stay up on everything and monitor and make sure we’re doing things correctly. It’s a factor of the life we live in. So when you look at it, it’s more than just getting into the space. It’s really living that going forward.

Mike Iorio: If I could just add, we’re talking a lot about compliance and those things, and those are all very important, you know, but some of the really important parts and fun parts of our job is creating these new brands, working with the leadership team to create culture, right, to live culture, working with the marketing team to create marketing campaigns that are specific to that joint venture, specific to that marketplace. There’s some in our industry, who are in the joint venture space, who think, just by changing the colors on the flyer, changes from one joint venture to the next. There’s better ways to do that. There’s better ways to do that.

So, you know, the fun part of this job, of being in this side of the industry is how do you nurture these brands so that they can get…you get the most out of them that, you know, they have… Their webpages look different, the experience looks different, their marketing looks different, their culture is different, their hiring practice is different. All, by the way, does come back to compliance because the more different they are, the more independent they are, and therefore, the more compliant they can be perceived to be. So all that is very important, but that’s the sizzle, I guess, of why we get into this. And I think that that is the challenge that a lot of our partners like is they… You know, we see a lot of our partners want their marketing departments to be a part of this, right? Because that way, it’s the perfect blend. It’s not just Newrez from the loan side, it is also the real estate and their ideas and their vision, and how that gets incorporated into the joint venture’s marketing materials.

Sarah Wheeler: You stole my last question, which is, like, what is the fun part for you or, you know, what do you enjoy about this? What’s great? And so, Randy, I’ll ask you.

Randy VandenHouten: What I enjoy about it is that you could have 20 different joint ventures, and to Mike’s point, you have 20 different cultures. And what I enjoy is being able to pick up one of our real estate partners, give me a call, and just talking strategy or what we need today and solving that problem today. And knowing people all over the country and running successful joint ventures, that’s the fun part, the relationship part.

Sarah Wheeler: You know, it’s crazy to think about 20 different cultures or more, right, because I mean, most companies struggle with just having a good company culture that nurtures people, that keeps people, that can do go through the ups and downs of our business, and not just lose people constantly, constant turnover or whatever. So, I mean, what do you think the key is to… What’s the common strand across all of those different kinds of company cultures that work?

Randy VandenHouten: I think if you’ve looked into our… A lot of our joint ventures are like families, frankly. If you look, if you go into them, we’re part of a very large company, but our joint ventures are smaller companies and they’re like family and there’s relationships involved, like I mentioned multiple times. That’s what I would say. They work incredibly hard together, but I know they also have a lot of fun together. And that’s what makes it work, in my opinion.

Mike Iorio: And to build off of that, the family, when I was running our joint venture years ago, the goal I had, and I verbalized this, and I don’t think I made this up, I probably stole it from someone, but I don’t know who I would footnote it with, but our goal is to have loan officers that are overly competent in the mortgage space and in the delivery space have that experience. But what’s the difference is between being successful in retail and being successful in joint venture is that when you’re in the joint venture, you’re with the partners, you’re with the realtors, and playing off of the family vibe here is that if you can get invited to that realtors’ and that offices’…their baby showers and their happy hours, if you’re getting invited to baby showers and happy hours, now you know you’ve made it. And that also serves as a great retention tool for the loan officer themselves, because now, it’s… They’re not coming to work every day. They’re coming in to their family every day. And they’re a piece of the pie, right. They’re a part of the puzzle. And then, that’s…job satisfaction soars, retention soars, experience overall soars, culture’s built. And that’s the fun part about what we do.

Randy VandenHouten: Agree. Totally agree.

Sarah Wheeler: Randy, Mike, thank you so much for being on Housing News today. Really appreciate your insights on this really interesting part of what’s happening in the mortgage industry.

Mike Iorio: Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

Randy VandenHouten: It’s great to be here, thank you.

Housing News

Hosted by HousingWire Editors, the HW Weekly Newscast is a conversational look at the most important stories coming across HousingWire's news desk.

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