Jason Sharon (pictured) joined the Navy at age 17. Growing up in a small Alabama town dreaming of something bigger, he saw military service as the only route to a college education and a better life compared to working on-site peanut mill. Interviewing all four services, he saw the greatest challenge facing him in the Navy as an opportunity to work as an engineer on nuclear reactors that power some of the most important ships. He served 20 years, including aboard the USS Nimitz and the USS Enterprise, before retiring to be closer to his growing family. Now he’s a mortgage broker.
Sharon, broker / owner of Home Loans Inc. in Charleston, SC, told MPA how he made this transition from managing nuclear fission reactors aboard an aircraft carrier to managing mortgage loans for borrowers. He shared how his experience as a veteran led to a specialization in become Loan programs and highlighted some of the most important lessons he has learned in the Navy that have served him well as a service provider Mortgage professional.
“The first thing I learned in my particular program was integrity,” said Sharon. “I’ve learned to do the right thing when no one is watching, and never to lie. If you screw it up that’s fine, just don’t lie about it. This lesson was very helpful with mortgages because you’re inevitably going to screw something up somewhere. There are too many moving parts, too many hands in the pot, someone is going to screw something up along the way, but as long as you understand this and have integrity in face of it, there won’t be any problems. “
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In his final years of service, Sharon obtained his real estate license and began selling houses on the side to generate a little extra income. Even when he let it slip by when the Navy relocated him, he felt the housing market might be the place for him as he retired in 2013 to be closer to his Charleston family.
Sharon decided he didn’t want to be an agent again, he wasn’t particularly interested in driving people to demonstrations for his day job on the weekends. So instead he got in touch with his old mortgage broker and asked for advice on how to get into the mortgage or insurance business. His former partner knew an opportunity when he saw it and offered Sharon a job. He worked as a loan officer until he had the experience needed to start his own brokerage business. In 2018 he opened Home Loans Inc. and now has 20 employees.
“I have been blessed beyond measure,” said Sharon.
He stated that he chose to be a broker because it gave more control. Despite some beliefs to the contrary, Sharon believes that as a real estate agent, he has far more control over the way he conducts his business and life than if he had worked in a net branch or retail lender. Sharon started his company from his laundry room and applied the regimental discipline learned in the Navy to work. The intensive procedural, detail-oriented work on nuclear reactors proved useful for mortgages. He devised a procedure for all he could that kept his job accurate and allowed him to quickly train new employees as the operation began to grow.
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This military experience has become the core of Sharon’s business. Early on in his first mortgage job, his sales manager Todd Sevier told him to find a niche quickly, and the perfect niche for a veteran is working on VA loans. Now VA loans make up 65% of Sharon’s pipeline, and he said he would be happy if they were 100%. In his view, these loans are easy to close, and he finds his fellow veterans more comfortable speaking and working with him and sharing a level of trust associated with the service.
However, looking at his own growth, Sharon believes the mortgage industry is a great career for people from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences – just as his experience in the Navy made him a great broker, so too could a range of different experiences will be for the next generation of brokers if they play their cards right.
“To me, the mortgage lender is the best kept secret in the professional world,” said Sharon. “You can make such good money when you work hard and smart. I had friends with no mortgage experience on board because I told them about my experience. New creators just need to start, find the place where they’re taught, and give pointers. You should pick a niche and become the best at it because if you can build that reputation, you will get customers without trying. “