Becoming a Top Producer with a Niche Mortgage Product – (With Sal Ali) – Episode 103

Posted February 15, 2022

Sal Ali, Director at InstaMortgage, has been working in the mortgage industry since he was 23 years old. Upon being offered a job at his brother’s brokerage, he entered the wholesale world. 

Today, Sal is a top-three originator for VA loans and VA IRRRL products in the country. Formally known as Arcus Lending, InstaMortgage recently ranked as one of Inc. 500’s Brokers of the Year and Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America, number 110 on the 2021 North America Technology Fast 500, and the fastest-growing private company in 2021 by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. It was started by Shashank Shekhar during the ‘dark times’ of the mortgage industry – 2008 – and presently provides services to over twenty-five states.

What is Sal’s secret to success? “Time, patience, and risk. You have to take the risk,” Sal says. Investing in yourself and your capabilities, along with well-planned processes and strategies, are the keys. Initially, Sal used direct mail to build his client base, and then he kept scaling what worked. In lieu of selling, he demonstrates his abilities and discusses the borrower’s central plan.

Three referrals should result from every closed deal. “You gotta be timely.” Always remain upfront and transparent with a borrower if a problem arises, such as an underwriting issue. “If they don’t qualify, you have to pick up the phone and call them. Don’t take it on yourself; reach out to your resources and be upfront with who you’re working with.” Sal also reaches out to real estate agents to offer his expertise on a specific product. “Send me your VA business, and I will show you what I can do for you.” 

Establishing quarterly benchmarks, and having the right technology in place, including lead generation systems and LOS, is paramount. Choosing the right technology stack can have a significant ROI, but it’s best to start small and grow it over time. In each quarter, Sal has improved one efficiency, mostly technology. “It’s important when you invest in the technology that you build it out to what you want.” With Shashank, he has developed a new AI assistant, Rachel, to help answer mortgage questions and locate client files. She is the first AI assistant in the mortgage industry.

What are Sal’s predictions for the mortgage market in 2022? “The same wave that happened in 2017 is happening now – the refi boom is gone, and it’s now a purchase market. There’s always going to be a niche product no matter what the market.” When Sal isn’t closing loans, he serves as the Education Chair for the Dallas Chapter of the VA Real Estate Professionals, educating real estate agents and borrowers on the VA product. 

This episode is sponsored by AFR Wholesale.


  • 1:25: Intro
  • 4:00: Generating Mortgage Referrals
  • 8:00: Taking Risks and Setting Benchmarks
  • 25:20: Meet Rachel, the First AI Assistant in Mortgage
  • 27:25: Solving Mortgage Problems
  • 31:30: Questions from the Broker Community
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