Long-Term Thinking: How To Build A Purchase-Focused, Recession-Proof Mortgage Brokerage (with Nick Utesch) – Episode 97

Posted December 21, 2021

Fresh out of high school, Oklahoma Broker/Owner Nick Utesch was only closing about two loans a month. Now, with almost three decades of experience under his belt, he closed nearly 500 deals last year and is the Scotsman Guide’s Ranked #1 Originator of VA loans in Oklahoma, three years in a row. Nick plowed right through the Great Recession, stayed above 75% purchase through 2020’s Refi-boom, and will be able to succeed with rising rates. He attributes this success to a simple but long-term mindset. “Screen well when you start off so there are no surprises, deliver what you tell them, and close on time, every time…It’s simple stuff,” Nick says, “but it will take you a long way.”

Raised in rural Iowa, Nick had to work multiple small farm jobs to afford a stereo. After working a whole summer and coming up $1,500 short, Nick moped about until spotting an ad about a Discounted Note industry starter kit, including a guidebook and some tapes. Nick invested the few hundred dollars saved over the summer, using the knowledge learned from the tapes to help close his first deal at 14 years old. By 18, he opened a Brokerage and hasn’t looked back. 

Nick’s business was barely affected when the 2008/2009 crash and recession rolled around, aside from some longer wait times for houses on the market. He focused on Fannie, Freddie, and Government loans, with a specific niche in VA. He avoided Sub-Prime deals and made sure to make his purchase clients THE top priority.

Nick says going paperless since the early 2000s and having no physical office have helped sustain a low overhead and keep profit margins high. Still, his #1 tip for longevity in the Wholesale Channel is a purchased-focused mentality. No matter the rates, people are constantly relocating to new markets and expanding their families. Nick wanted to control his destiny and not rely on the cyclical nature of the mortgage industry. Take this recent refi-boom, for example. Nick only did 25% refi’s in 2020, and they were completely passive. He could’ve been more proactive and reached out to more clients about refinancing, but his service levels and standard for purchases would have dropped.  Purchases are time-sensitive and require more work, but if you deliver, perform to your best, and get things done on time, you will create a referral funnel that will last a lifetime. “You don’t need to sell yourself if you can prove yourself,” Nick says. 

Until this year, Nick was a one-person shop with a single outsourced Contract Processor. With the recent influx of business, Nick has added on four LO’s, but that is almost exclusively to allow Nick a proper work/life balance. His team members request the initial disclosure package and pull together doc requests from clients. Not clearing conditions and hunting down docs all day long frees up Nick to focus on pre-quals and staying top-of-mind with clients. And even with the entire team, Nick still originates 95% of his brokerage’s volume and never misses a closing.  

Nick closes out the podcast with some vital but straightforward advice that all mortgage brokers should adhere to; invest in yourself and treat people right. Watch webinars, stay updated with market changes, and stay compliant. Treat every client with the same amount of respect, whether it’s a $750,000 or $150,000 purchase. Nick even mentions an AIME and Brokers Are Better favorite: answer your phone. “It’s simple stuff, but it will take you a long way.”


  • Intro to The Wholesale Channel (1:27)
  • Brokerage Breakdown (7:15)
  • Purchase Focused Longevity (19:21)
  • Parting Advice (29:28)

This episode is sponsored by REMN Wholesale.

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