This is a follow up story for Stratton Equities. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Michael Mikhail, and I’m the Founder and CEO of Stratton Equities, the nation’s leading private money and NON-QM (non-qualified mortgage) lender with the largest variety of niche mortgage programs nationwide.
We specialize in unique private money mortgage loan programs and work directly with entrepreneurs, real estate professionals, and Mortgage Brokers. Our target is $1.2 BIL annually in closed loan volume or $100 MIL monthly.
Investing in yourself and your business to achieve success and not letting others distract you from that is important.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
Yes, the business has been growing. Stratton Equities has significantly increased volume and productivity. We are continuously hiring to keep up with the influx of business as the company offers Direct Organic Leads and the widest range of programs nationwide so loan officers can say "Yes" more often. Our focus has been enhancing our technology and training so that loan officers can close their first loan within four to six weeks after initial training.
Why are we growing while others are closing? Well, number one: The QM (qualified mortgage) market has decreased by 94% compared to last year, largely because refinancing is mostly about rates and terms in a standard qualified mortgage environment. Given that much of the country already refinanced at 2-3% last year, it's likely that many people would only refinance at 7-8% if they had a pressing need to do so.
Number two: Due to inflation and high levels of credit card debt, people's credit scores have been negatively impacted. This makes it harder for them to refinance in a traditional conforming world, as their debt-to-income ratio and creditworthiness have decreased. With trillions of dollars in outstanding credit card debt, the situation has been the worst recently, affecting the regular QM refinance market.
Inventory is low, which has led to fewer sales. Additionally, many potential buyers are waiting on the sidelines for rates to go down, although it's uncertain whether that will happen in the near future. Furthermore, as people's debt-to-income ratios have increased due to inflation and credit card debt, their credit scores have decreased, meaning fewer people qualify for traditional loans.
Despite these challenges, our market remains strong because we don't just focus on rates; we have various wide range of niche mortgage loan programs, allowing us to help qualify more borrowers and find the right solution for their unique circumstances.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
One of our biggest challenges is having enough quality loan officers on hand as we have many direct organic leads and so much business; however, when I say we need to hire more people, we're not talking about hiring just anyone, it must be the right fit.
So, when discussing hiring difficulties, there is a concern that others may assume a company is not doing well because they are not hiring easily. It is important to clarify that Stratton Equities is focused on finding the right candidates who align with the company's core work ethic, philosophy, and model.
Our model is unique and not widely known, so we need to spread the word that we offer more than just competitive rates - we focus on providing needs-based mortgage solutions. This sets us apart from other mortgage companies and creates a niche for us in the market.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
I have developed a deeper understanding of myself in the past year due to my experiences. Through these experiences, our efforts align with a greater purpose, as we have helped thousands of individuals who could not obtain approval from other mortgage lenders.
This includes self-employed individuals, those who have not been employed for two years, those who cannot provide tax returns, or those who have lost a spouse who was the primary breadwinner.
We recently had the opportunity to assist a woman who had just lost her husband. He had left her with a nearly debt-free investment property worth a million dollars. Despite her lack of income or job history, she had been tirelessly applying for loans with no success.
We provided her with a NO DOC mortgage program, saving her from foreclosure and providing her with some retirement funds to live on. This is where Stratton Equities stands out.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
In the upcoming year, I will strive for operational efficiency and precision as I actively search for ways to improve things, whether identifying problems or enhancing software.
This is evident in how I meticulously update all our devices and software, not only for myself but also for my sales and backend teams. My incessant drive to improve systems and processes results in smoother procedures and more profits. So, we’re constantly improving and updating our systems and technology.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their businesses?
To become successful, one needs to have a strong mindset and work ethic, but many people have too much going on in their lives.
When I was dead broke, I had no credit cards, a bank account, money, or anything. Stratton Equities was just an idea in my head.
One day, I was at the park and watched these squirrels running around, and as I watched them, I noticed that they had three things to accomplish within 24 hours: food, water, and shelter. They focused only on those three things without outside help; no humans fed them or made their nests.
They did it themselves 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While watching them, I realized I could accomplish my goal faster with hard work, determination, and focusing on one thing, 18 hours a day, seven days a week, and doing it well. And I did as I made $1.3 million in six months.
If you can concentrate on the one thing that will make you successful, you will exponentially speed up the success process, and the ratio and odds of you making it are greater and faster. It's essential to prioritize and focus on one thing and do it well. Investing in yourself and your business to achieve success and not letting others distract you from that is important.
One of my recently acquired passions is identifying and mentoring entrepreneurs one-on-one, helping them in their journey to success.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, we are hiring mortgage loan officers, processors, loan officer assistants, and mortgage underwriters.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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