After the housing market crash of 2008, mortgage brokers’ market share dropped to less than 10 percent. Today, their market share is back up to 17 percent — the highest it’s been in almost a decade. A lot of hard work has gone into this upward climb, and mortgage brokers continue to show their commitment to homebuyers and communities by taking great care of clients. This is their Cinderella story.

Everyone loves an underdog story. There’s something about seeing an individual or a group of people do something that no one thought they could do. It reminds us that a dream doesn’t have to stay just a dream. It makes the impossible seem possible.

We know exactly where to look for these stories every year when the calendar turns to March. For many sports fans, underdogs are what make the NCAA basketball tournament so magical.

There are small schools that are just happy to be there. Then there are the schools that want to prove they are champions. This has always been a compelling sub-plot to the tournament, and we’ve seen our fair share of Cinderella teams over the years: Just last year, Loyola of Chicago made it all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

To many college basketball fans, the original Cinderella story was Gonzaga. The Bulldogs made it to the Elite Eight as a 10 seed in 1999. They made it to the Sweet Sixteen as a double-digit seed in 2000 and again in 2001. Ever since, Gonzaga has gone from Cinderella to belle of the ball — a perennial tournament contender and a household name. Everyone knows who they are.

In the real estate business, independent mortgage brokers are traveling a similar path as Gonzaga. Just as the Bulldogs did by making several more NCAA tournament runs, mortgage brokers are proving they’re no fluke.

The big difference is that mortgage brokers once had a huge stake in the game. In 2006, more than half of borrowers went through brokers for a mortgage. But following the housing crash of 2008, big banks unfairly blamed mortgage brokers for the crisis, and their reputation took a major hit. Mortgage brokers’ market share dropped to less than 10 percent post-crisis.

Even as mortgage brokers started to make a comeback in recent years, they had their doubters.

Why mortgage brokers are coming back

Today, mortgage broker market share is back up to 17 percent, the highest it’s been in almost a decade. A lot of hard work has gone into this upward climb. Mortgage brokers have shown their commitment to homebuyers and communities by taking great care of clients.

More and more buyers are choosing brokers because they are the best option when it comes to shopping for a mortgage. Mortgage brokers offer the best service, the lowest monthly payments, and they close loans fast.

Mortgage brokers know they have a “shot clock” when it comes to closing a loan for a homebuyer. They have contract dates to hit. When buyers use a mortgage broker, they have the advantage because the mortgage broker can choose a lender that closes loans fast. They aren’t stuck in line behind other loans like mega-banks and online lenders would be.

Realtors can be confident that when they write a 30-day purchase agreement, their loan will close on time — and that means they get paid faster.

We all know that getting a mortgage is a time-sensitive process. If a lender doesn’t hit certain dates, a buyer could lose their dream home. Mortgage brokers hit their contract dates because they have greater accountability. They know if they don’t get a loan closed on time, the buyer and Realtor can take their business elsewhere the next time they need a loan — and the broker has thrown away their chances of getting a referral.

What to expect from a mortgage broker

Much like each opponent on the basketball court requires a different game plan, getting a mortgage is not a one-size-fits-all process. Every team has its own style of play, and every buyer has their own set of financial circumstances.

Because of all the different loan options they have access to, mortgage brokers can match buyers with the best mortgage for their individual situation. Mortgage brokers are the experts buyers should go to for their mortgage needs.

Mortgage brokers deliver the personalized service that so many homebuyers want and deserve. Buyers want someone who will put on the “full-court press” to make sure they have a fast and smooth loan process.

Mortgage brokers provide that because their livelihood depends on it. A mortgage broker’s reputation is on the line with every loan — they rely on referrals, so they have to deliver a quick, seamless experience for their clients, or they won’t get more business.

When buyers go through a broker, they can expect a fast and easy process, the best service and a lower monthly payment.

This March, we’ll find out who the next Cinderella story will be on the basketball court. In the mortgage business, we already know that the glass slipper fits for independent mortgage brokers.

They are true underdogs, competing with big banks and online lenders for business every day. They’re winning more and more of that business because consumers realize that mortgage brokers are the best option to get a mortgage.

Mortgage brokers are writing their own comeback story one loan at a time, helping homebuyers achieve the dream of homeownership. That’s a Cinderella story everyone can believe in.

Mat Ishbia is president and CEO at United Wholesale Mortgage in Pontiac, Michigan. Like him on Facebook and Twitter.

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