From slinging hash to serving up the dream of homeownership


Stepping into the mortgage industry

So at 30 years of age, he would begin a new chapter. “I went to a small boutique mortgage bank out of Nevada that was very tech-forward at the time in what it was doing – it wound up blowing up. It was called Meridius Capital. It was an interesting time, but really, I cut my teeth in mortgage when I came back to LA after about a year. And I worked for a company called CS Financial and I worked with some of the top originators in the country at the time.”

He quickly found the benefits of having attended business school in his new line of work, he recalled. “One of the things that was very beneficial was that I was pretty analytical. So when the guidelines started changing to a more traditional way of looking at loans again – you know, cash flow analysis and all that – I had a pretty good understanding of it. So I became the person who figured out the harder loans.”

He’d partner up with his friend, Chris Furie, by 2010, to hang his own shingle. Together, they would launch Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Insignia Mortgage Inc. “We found our niche,” he said.

Great Recession aftermath was still felt

That niche involves primarily jumbo and non-QM loans, he said. After all, the base is in Beverly Hills, one of the nation’s most expensive ZIP codes. As such, Insignia deals in more complicated loans with less of a focus on volume compared to many of their counterparts, he explained. Such dynamics have been advantageous in keeping the company in check from growing too fast, he noted, particularly in its nascent period on the heels of the Great Recession.

“We’ve always been small – a lean-and-mean model,” he said. “When you go through something like 2008 and get your clock cleaned like everyone did, you tend to be more risk averse. One of the limitations of our model was we work with smaller banks, credit unions and privately owned banks that aren’t designed to take on massive amounts of volume. We were one of the few brokers approved to deliver loans to these places, but the caveat was that there were limits to how many loans they would want.”

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