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More than a mortgage lender: 4 radical ways we care for our borrowers

Bethany Ramos About Cornerstone, First-Time Homebuyer, Holiday, Home Buying, Industry Professionals, Loan Officers

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Forget about the golden rule. To connect deeply with our borrowers, the platinum rule serves us better.

This simply means that in every loan we write, we treat borrowers like friends. We put ourselves in their shoes so we can treat them the way they want to be treated.

Here’s more on how that’s done.

4 Cornerstone Commitments that set us apart

Transforming individual lives through lending? That’s been our mission for over 30 years.

Each day, we’re still putting it into practice:

  1. Commitment #1. Mortgage is about the people.
  2. Commitment #2. We craft a culture of caring.
  3. Commitment #3. Our convictions guide us every day.
  4. Commitment #4. We have a passion for excellence.

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Commitment #1. Mortgage is about the people.

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Getting our borrowers exactly what they want – like getting into a new home quickly and easily — hinges on our ability to work with numbers and figures. But these numbers aren’t what makes us successful as a lender.

A little backstory:

  • Co-CEOs Marc Laird and Judy Belanger started Cornerstone Home Lending, Inc., in 1988 and, after serving more than 300,000 borrowers in over three decades, still retain ownership.
  • For 32 years, we’ve stayed true to our founding mission: We exist to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Now, Cornerstone is among the top mortgage companies. We’re a top 50 National Lender, earning the highest ratings for customer service and team member satisfaction among all home lenders.

People-first lending at Cornerstone looks like walking a borrower through each step of the mortgage process, breaking down and explaining the pros and cons of different loans. Our loan product innovation ensures clients always have access to new products for renovation, condos, disaster relief, and much more.

As Marc explained in a recent email, we’re continually adapting, growing, and innovating, not to replace our team members, but to make their jobs easier and more fulfilling. This has a direct, positive impact on our borrowers.

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Commitment #2. We craft a culture of caring.

Not only do we put our people first — our borrowers, our partners, and our team members. We do this without losing sight of our families and our local communities.

Home lending is our platform to enrich our clients’ lives:

  • Each mortgage helps one of our borrowers to achieve their biggest goals through responsible, long-term homeownership.
  • We change the perception of getting a mortgage from a scary, overwhelming ordeal into an amazing, achievable milestone worth celebrating.
  • Having this heart for service helped us successfully navigate five previous industry downturns and our current COVID crisis.

In 2013, a devastating tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma. It was just one part of a three-day outbreak of severe weather in the state. Once Marc learned that several team members in our marketing department were from Oklahoma, he handed them $10,000 in cash and told them to go bless people in their home state.

Click here to join the work-family that cares.

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Commitment #3. Our convictions guide us every day.

“Here’s the thing,” Marc says. “We will lose money to do the right thing.”

This informs how we serve our borrowers:

  • Our loan officers take the time to listen to our clients and offer guidance and loan products that meet a borrower’s individual financial needs — and not our bottom line.
  • We have a 100-percent on-time closing commitment. Our well-oiled in-house operations and stellar loan officer support ratios (6.1 team-member-to-LO) enable us to close loans quickly.
  • This approach of combining best-in-class remote mortgage technology with personalized, high-trust service empowers our clients. They have control over their mortgage process and can connect with their loan officer instantly.

The way we view mortgage is not transactional. It’s about creating relationships that last beyond the closing table.

Our Core Convictions make us one of the top mortgage companies, laying the foundation for a strong work-family:

  • Cornerstone creates a supportive, happy workplace – evidenced by our consistent Top Workplace winnings based on our team members’ positive feedback.
  • There are no “employees” at Cornerstone. Marc made this declaration several years ago and continues to use the term “team member” to signify the importance of our work-family to this day.
  • We recognize accomplishments, while also taking care to extend a hand to team members in times of crisis. Prayer requests are frequently circulated, and support is given for loss, illness, and the effects of natural disasters.

Celebrating our team is an everyday thing. Work anniversary and birthday cards, monthly gift card drawings with rewards based on tenure, appreciation events, and our Caught in the Act campaign, where team members can “tell on” each other’s good deeds, are just a few examples.

And, following the 2009 mortgage crash, what sticks out most is that Cornerstone grew and didn’t lay off a single person.

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Commitment #4. We have a passion for excellence.

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“It’s not about volume. It’s about excellence,” Marc says. 

As a result:

  • Our work-family is growing steadily because of the care we take in only hiring the best people.
  • To support success, we invest in not only the latest technology but also in the talent. Our loan officers benefit from the fact that we have the highest support ratios in the industry, helping to free up time for exceptional client care.
  • Each loan officer also benefits from free in-house marketing support and is assigned their own marketing coordinator. Our 30-person marketing team pumps out everything from emails to flyers to social graphics to gifts so an LO doesn’t have to go to another vendor, ever.

Just some of our innovative technology includes:

  • 15-minute prequalifications – A borrower-friendly process that can be done from anywhere online; there’s also PQ On Demand, used by borrowers to generate their own prequalification letter and strengthen their offer on the fly.
  • LO Portal – A transparent tool that keeps everyone on the same page, anywhere on any device, eliminating duplicate tasks for loan officers and allowing us to close over 97 percent of loans on time.
  • Borrower Portal – Another transparent tool offering clients more control via 24/7 access to instant document upload, real-time status updates, and easy communication with their loan officer.
  • Express Closing – A state-of-the-art process that enables clients to pre-sign docs at home and then spend only 15 minutes at the title office or close at home using a notary.

It’s not about the volume, but production is a nice side effect of prioritizing people. Cornerstone loan officers lead the industry, outproducing those at other top mortgage companies. No other competitor even comes within $10 million dollars of our loan originators’ average volume. In 144 of the last 146 months (totaling over 12 years), we’ve generated a monthly profit.

Matt and Angel are two of many Cornerstone success stories: Both loan officers, Matt’s a top producer who’s seen a 71.5-percent volume increase, while Angel met his YTD volume goal six months faster than expected.

On a daily basis, we see excellence in every department:

  • Will a manager stay late to help get docs prepped? Yes.
  • Will the helpdesk troubleshoot an issue until it’s resolved? Yes.
  • Will the marketing team tweak a design until a loan officer loves it? Absolutely.

No wonder our people won’t leave. The average tenure of salaried workers in professional occupations is only 5.5 years. At Cornerstone, our average tenure is over 12 years.

It’s not just about the numbers

It’s about spreading joy and helping others achieve their lifelong goals — whether it’s by providing a dream home loan, offering a position on our team, or lending a helping hand to those in need. Take a look at our latest job openings.

For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.

Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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