Mortgage teamwork

Modern Barn Raisers: The Power of the Mortgage Community

“The air is filled with the squalling protests of old nails being yanked out of planks as teenagers attack the piles of reclaimed lumber with reversed claw hammers. While some of the men begin to saw floor joists to length with raspy strokes, others hand the boards up to men already standing atop the foundation. … It is apparent — even to the casual observer — that these Amishmen know how to build barns!”

-Account of an Amish Barn Raising

I’ve never witnessed the incredible event of a barn raising, but stories I heard growing up in the Midwest always gave me a sense of awe. The Amish people could work together to build a barn in a day — when it would have taken a good contractor all summer — and call the whole event a “frolic.”

When I got into the mortgage industry, I saw an undeniable parallel between barn raising and the sense of community and teamwork among mortgage professionals, as they worked to build good loans for customers.

Fast forward 10-15 years, and much has changed.

The march toward compliant mortgages has brought many benefits along the way. A more streamlined process for consumers, more accurate underwriting and of course, better handling of nonprime mortgages post-crisis. But what has been lost, for some, is the companionship and trust among those working together on a mortgage loan.

Words like “vendor management,” “audits” and “risk tiers” come to mind. No longer are these people just our friends and long-trusted business partners. They are termed vendors, and regulation dictates that we manage the risk they bring to the process.

Additionally, many of those we work with on loans could be new to the process. We may have met last week, or never at all. These are the vendors that worry us; that keep us up at night. Does the subcontractor have a license? Does the fourth party have an updated cybersecurity policy?

These questions need to be answered, of course, but the uncertainty is nerve wracking, and can erode any sense of community, of teamwork, that is so vital to success in this industry. Time is money, after all, and how much of it is wasted monitoring and micromanaging those we aren’t sure we can trust?

A lot, actually. According to a recent article on, at JPMorgan “the compliance and regulatory headcount has grown to 43,000 as of just last year, compared to 23,000 five years ago in 2011.” That’s a lot of new salaries to pay for.

How can lenders maintain camaraderie and trust with partners when regulation dictates they must prove their continued compliance? How can mortgage and real estate professionals cultivate a sense of community when it is always changing, or when we don’t know those in the community?

There is a certain power in working together to help others succeed. Just watch this timelapse video of a barn raising in Ohio.

I believe that with the right tools and the participation of community, trust and camaraderie can be maintained while pursuing a shared goal of serving mortgage and financial customers.

Learn how, here.