For the ninth year in a row, we compiled the industry’s most comprehensive list of the nation’s top mortgage
originators. The rankings include
not only the originators who are
closing the most dollar volume and
the most loans, but also the leaders
in niche areas, like Federal Housing
Administration, U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department
of Agriculture loans as well as home
equity lines of credit.
View Scotsman Guide’s
Top Originators 2017 at
By Victor Whitman
Some 23 years ago, Seattle-based originator Julie
Johnson was a young single mom with three small
children. She needed to get to school every day to
pick up her kids. A family member, who was in the
mortgage business, described a typical day in the
office. Johnson was sold on the flexible hours.
“So, I jumped right in and never left,” she said.
Johnson said her competitive spirit kept her going.
She also could handle those grinding hours that
drive many to quit after a few months.
A few years ago, Johnson sought out a professional
coach and ultimately joined a group where successful people in various fields coach each other.
Johnson credits that program for turning her on to
the power of never wasting her time.
Today her weekly schedule rarely changes. Johnson said she calls her network of Realtors every
Monday. On Tuesday, she devotes most of the day
to updating her clients on the progress of their
mortgages in the pipeline. Wednesday is about
touching base with people who are still working
on their loan applications. Thursday is devoted to
reaching out to past clients. Friday is reserved for a
special group of people whom she calls her VIP list.
Johnson said she couldn’t stick to this routine so
religiously without an underlying passion for
“I still get excited today when I see my clients,”
Johnson said. “I get joy from knowing that I am
Victor Whitman is chief reporter for Scotsman Guide Media.
Reach him at (800) 297-6061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
part of one of the big wows in their life. We are in
the wow business, so it is an exciting thing to do for
our clients. If you don’t have that passion and that
joy, it is going to be hard to get up in the morning.”
It was an especially hot year for Seattle’s home-purchase market in 2017, and a good year for Johnson.
She closed 329 loans, with a balance exceeding $134
million. Her dollar volume increased by $56 million
in 2017 over the 2016 number. Although Seattle’s
market slowed in the latter half of 2018, Johnson
said she closed the same numbers of loans in 2018
as in 2017.
“You can’t really control what happens with the market, but you can tell clients why it is still great to buy:
Building wealth, savings, all that good stuff,” Johnson said. “But, honestly, it is about … having that
grit to make it through these challenging times.”
After several years of persistence, Johnson said she
worked herself into a position where she can spend
a more reasonable 40-45 hours a week at the office,
giving her more time to spend with her husband
and six children.
“It is going to be tough the next couple of years, but
the advice that I would give [an originator starting out]
is, don’t give up, persevere,” Johnson said. “The beauty about this business is that the sky is the limit. It is not
easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Julie Johnson, Guild Mortgage Co.
No. 4 Top Dollar Volume Gain (2017)