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Reyna Rousseau: Running a $68 Million Mortgage Business & 17 Rentals & Flips

Uncategorized Oct 12, 2020

LISTEN TO FULL EPISODE ON:  

  

 

Reyna Rousseau is a lender and branch mananger with CrossCountry Mortgage and has grown her lending business to over $68 million. She started out as an intern for Well Fargo in college and worked her way up into the lending role that she has today and has consistently grown her volume year over year by almost doubling each year she has been in business. In addition, she had found enough time to handle 17 rentals and flips in the past 3 years. 

 

In this episode, hosted by Mike Swenson, we discussed:   

  • How her career got started as an intern with Wells Fargo leading up to where is is today 17 years later
  • Has a background in closing, processing, management, jr. originator, and sales
  • Reyna is licensed in 11 different states 
  • Her current role as a loan originator and branch manager with CrossCountry Mortage 
  • How a team is important to have to best serve your clients 
  • Reyna diversifies by income by doing rental properties, flips, and her mortgage business, as she now has 17 flips and rentals
  • The importance of networking in growing her lending business as well as finding rentals & flips
  • Importance of not being afraid to reach out and ask questions 
  • Mistakes are learning opportunities 
  • Retirement goal is to have 20 rental properties 
  • A goal for her and her husband is that they want to retire or have passive income when they are 50  

  

Timestamps: If You Want To Jump Ahead To Your Favorite Part   

0:00 - Intro and overview of Reyna’s career 

3:57 – What Reyna’s future looks like 

6:15 – How her business has grown and adapted 

12:45 – How she got into rentals & flips 

24:33 – Goals moving forward 

 

 

Links Based On This Episode:   

The CrossCountry Mortgage Website: https://crosscountrymortgage.com/   

 Inquire about a mortgage with Reyna: https://crosscountrymortgage.com/Blaine-MN-4219/Reyna-Rousseau/

 

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Full transcript here:

Mike Swenson 

All right, Mike Swenson here with real freedom. And we have another wonderful guest today we have Reyna Rousseau and she is here to talk about her journey towards financial freedom. And the thing that I love about her story is she actually has not been an agent. And so something that we get to share with other people is another area of real estate where you can still build wealth and and do things in a big way. So welcome Reyna, if you want to take a few minutes and introduce yourself and talk a little bit about what led you up to where you're at today and what you're what you're doing.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yes, yes. Hello, everybody. Thanks so much for having me. It's great to be here. And I love watching your previous interviews as well. And I am happy to be on the other side of a real estate transaction, that's for sure. However, I will say that my mom was an agent, my whole life growing up. So I feel like I could be a pseudo agent at some point. But things have gotten a little bit different than me riding around in the back of the car, you know, looking at the MLS books, and then the map books several years ago trying to tell my mom the directions of how things have changed. Anyways, I will introduce myself, my name is Reyna Rousseau.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

I'm a loan originator and branch manager with cross country mortgage. I've been in the industry, well, let's see, this is my 17th year. So Been a long time and have kind of been in every position in a mortgage company. Starting in college, I took an internship with Wells Fargo home mortgage, and just kind of evolved from there. So I started in closing and then processing and then managing a team all the way up to being kind of like a junior originator on a joint venture with Wells Fargo. And then Wells Fargo kind of went away with their joint ventures. And I thought, you know, I can do this within Wells Fargo, I note every single aspect of a back end process.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Now I just need to find those people that actually want to buy a house or want to refinance. So I'm starting my journey had a nice little savings, because the agent mother that I had always told me Be sure that you have at least six months of savings in this business, because you never know what's going to happen to the market. So I did. And I use that money to start my adventure on the sales side and opened up my own branch. And then from there just kind of built my business into what it is today.

 

Mike Swenson 

So what was it for you then obviously growing up in real estate, you know, you would have had opportunity to be an agent. So what is it that you like about being on the lending side versus being on the agents?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yeah, that's a great question. So I went to the College of St. Catherine. And I always had an interest in finance. And so I was going to their business school and checking out maybe some medical sales or business to business sales, they also had a financial sales major, and that all of that really interested me. And I knew that I could work the numbers and make an impact there. And really just kind of math and numbers came, like second nature to me.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

I also had no interest in hope, hosting open houses on Saturdays. So, so really lending was kind of a natural fit for me, even though, you know, I had seen the ups and downs of the market from the agent side, I knew that I had that business background as well. And I could take the two put them together and just kind of build my own business within a business, which was important to me.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. So talk a little bit about then your future. What does it look like to when we talk about, you know, financial freedom and, and building wealth. For some people, it's a number for some people, it's a certain amount of income coming in every month, to where they really have the ability to choose what they want to do and how they want to spend their time. When you think about the future? What goals are, what intentions Do you have of what that's going to look like?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Mm hmm. So that's a great question. So I've always felt like diversity in your income is important, because as we know, in this industry, and lots of other industries follow so we have insurance. We have title companies as well that are impacted on how the real estate market is doing. I feel like we have to have some diversity, and that's what we're trying to work on for our family. So not only I mean mortgage is my first passion, of course, I'm always gonna have my business. I'm always going to work at that full time.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

But my husband and I have said okay, we need to kind of diversify where our income Thomas coming from because we have a strong retirement goal. We work hard when we're young, our kids are quickly growing up our youngest is a freshman in high school. So we are trying to figure out a way to, and I feel like we're doing a pretty good job to kind of have that income source coming from different places. So we know, in the future, if the market kind of does an up and down, which it typically does, we know that we have the resources coming in.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

And we've diversified herself enough to where we have our retirement goal. And we want to retire or have lots of passive income when we're 50. So no age jokes, but I still have 12 years left to get there. So we're working hard, we're working hard to get there. So that's ultimately our goal. And we kind of diversify through rental properties, through our own businesses that we run now. And then through maybe some, you know, fix and flip properties along the way, things like that. So we kind of have that income in the future.

 

Mike Swenson 

Okay, so let's dig in a little bit to each of those different streams that you have going. So talking about the mortgage side? How has your business grown? And how has has that adapted from when you first started to where you're at today? And then you know, what are you looking to do? moving forward?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yes. So when he started, I had no connections. You know, I was always on the back end, I was in processing and such, so I didn't know any agents. And I had friends and family and section, my mom was an agent as well. But when I started, I found this coaching program, as do most successful realtors follow, or people even just getting into the business, they start with a coach. But I first started by asking my mom and saying, you know, well, how did you?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

How did you do this for 30 plus years, and raise kids and have a family and have, you know, make everything work. And she said, You know what, we're gonna just stick to the basics, be yourself and have clear communication, and everything else will fall in place. And so really, I thought, okay, my job now is to network when I first started 40 hours a week, that's my job, at nights and on the weekends, early mornings, I can work on loans, when they come in, I can work on paperwork and things like that. But if I'm not networking, and I'm not talking to people, people don't know about me.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So I spent my whole first year kind of following the system and networking for 40 hours a week, my first year in business, I did 7 million. And that was seven years ago, really on my own. And then year over year, business started picking up and I never strayed from that coaching program and from my daily activities. So year over year, I have almost double double my business seven to 14, to 28, and so on and so forth.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So even now, I mean, this year is kind of kind of an off year, we have lots of refinances happening, too. But purchase is still my main focus as it should be, I feel like for people in our industry. So you know, we will do about 75% purchase and 25% refinance and a heavy refinance market too. And we just don't stray from that those specific activities.

 

Mike Swenson 

So what are those activities look like? And then too, as we talk about leverage, obviously, where you're at today, you can't do it all by yourself. And so you need to have people working along with us to talk about that journey, too.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Sure, sure. So for example, I have daily tasks that I have to do. So Monday is my day to connect with all my referral partners. So I have a list of all my referral partners. And maybe the list is growing. So you can't really get to it all in one day. So I split them up every other Monday, I'm connecting with somebody on the list, and I have to get through that list.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Otherwise, my tasks aren't done. So for example, then Monday, I'll have a time book. And I'll call my set list of referral partners, or shoot a text or a check in or however, however they best like to connect, and just be sure that we're present and that we're offering something of value, because the biggest thing in lending I feel and the same with the other side as agents is you don't want to just say, Okay, I'm here, give me a client, give me a lead.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

I'll sell your house, no problem, but I'm not going to give you anything in return. So we truly believe in partnership, and that's where we kind of stick to the basics, so to speak. And then Tuesday's would be something like a lead follow up day. So maybe last week, I got 20 leads. I have them all tracked. So this week, I will call them and follow up and see if they still want to apply if they have any follow up questions. But this is where my team really comes into play. Because week over week, if you have lead, you know, 20, leads, 20 leads 20 leads, sometimes it's hard to make 100 calls in a day. And you have to keep track of what those people's needs are.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So this is we're kind of building a team for the front end of the process was important. So we're sure that we're servicing those people. And leads don't really do you any good. If you don't follow up, you know, we have to make sure that we just don't lose sight of those people that maybe need some service, but just don't know exactly what they need. And that's what we're there to do is to help them. And then Wednesday's would be like a pre approval follow up day, if somebody has a pre approval, and they've been house hunting for three weeks.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

And they're just not getting offers accepted or whatever it happens to be, then we follow up and say, What can we help you with? What are you seeing? Have you met any frustrations, and I'm just kind of keep that relationship together. So five days a week, we have a reset process. And that's where, like I said, the team kind of come comes into play. But then also, after we have the loan in place, we have a team to kind of help with that as well, because you have 300 plus steps to take care of during a mortgage process.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So you know, from the time you get your purchase agreement accepted till the time you go through underwriting into closing, there's lots that happens on the back end. And that gets to be too much for one person. So for example, I have Sean and Paula and my team. And if you've worked with us before you know who they are. So you have the three of us that just work directly with you and your client. Or if you're a client, then you know exactly who is doing what on your loan to.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. And to it's good, because you're out running around, meeting with people attending closings, different things like that, it's nice to know you've already got you already always have somebody behind you to be able to take care of stuff when people are sending in documents and doing all that. So it's it's having that person that's consistently there consistently accessible to help when you're out running around to

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Exactly, because our underwriters are working, you know, during business hours, and you're out house hunting during business hours, because you will still have to work. So we always have somebody kind of working through the process and working on things at the appropriate time.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, okay, great. So let's dig in then to the flip and the kind of the buy and hold stuff that's happened for you talk about what that looks like and how you got into that and how it's grown.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So, yes, we kind of got into it on accident a little bit. I mean, it always was a goal, to maybe have several properties that were rental. So when we let's say we bought our first house when we were 23. And so then, of course, as it happens to sometimes newly married couples or family started expanding, and we were quickly out of space. So I think we had our first house for four years, it was a townhome. And the market we bought in 2005. So you know, great time to purchase your first house.

 

Mike Swenson 

Same with us here. 2006.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yeah. So we held on to that, while we bought our new place. And we still have it today. And then we were easily cash flowing a few $100 every month at first I thought if we can break even, that's fine. And we did probably for the first year or two. But again, we had our savings, we had our nest egg. And so we still have that property. And then along the way, somebody would approach us and say, Hey, for example, our first flip that we did, somebody approached us and said, Do you know anybody that would purchase this house, my friend's parents, you know, they went into a nursing home, it's in serious disrepair.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

They don't have time to deal with it. Do you know anybody that would buy it? And we thought, well, maybe we should check into that. We did. And so that was our first flip opportunity. So now we're two properties in and I thought, okay, we have a rental. And now it's cash flowing very nicely. You know, we've had that property for 16 years. And that property is gonna stay with us for quite some time. And then we quickly did our first flip and that was really easy. And we made money. Lots of paper like it's your first one. Don't expect to make a lot of money. We didn't make a lot of money.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

But we made enough to make us feel comfortable like, Hey, we should, we should check into this. And so really just through word of mouth, and talking to everyone, we know friends, family agents, saying, hey, if you by chance, see a property that comes on the market, where we could fix it, and sell it a few months later, maybe depending on the scope of work, that would be something we're interested in. Or if it's coming on the market, or it's a family that's in need of maybe getting rid of a property for whatever reason, and it only needs a little bit of work than we would buy it, and hold it and rent it.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

And essentially just kind of create that passive income or that rental income. And so we have six properties. Now, it's by no means a huge real estate portfolio, but I feel like it's a lot for a family, a young family. And then we also have done a fix and flip probe program through a local lender, or after a while we have some cash available to to kind of, you know, work on those repairs that we're making, I suppose. And so now we're up to a total of 17, between rentals and flips that we've completed.

 

Mike Swenson 

And then outside of the first one that you did when you when you bought your first townhouse, all of this has happened within just the last three years, right?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yeah, yeah, it's been three years. So three years of the craziest real estate market, and then three years of us kind of diving in headfirst on the fix and flip process to.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, that's awesome. And then to think, too, you know, that's the power of being in the real estate industry. And the thing that I want people to really latch on to is, all your homes came either through you finding them or referrals, which are people that you're already working with. And because you're in the industry, you understand the market a little bit, you kind of know, you know, where it's a good area where it's not a good area to work, you know, the numbers, obviously, and how what that looks like to fix it or to decide to hold on to it.

 

Mike Swenson 

And so it's not like you're having to tap into some other part of your brain that you've never had to use before. Because it's a completely different industry, or completely different concept. You're just leveraging all the tools, the resources and the relationships you already have doing your your day job. And now all it's opened up all these doors in the last three years just by doing a good job on the lending side.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Right. And it really is just through networking and conversation, May my kind of goal is to never be pushy. If you need a service and you need help, please ask me. And I will do the same. Because I find myself I mean, I don't know all I need to know, obviously about the real estate side, that's why have you guys know, that's very important. There's lots of things that I still come across every day, even from being in the business for 17 years, I always have to ask questions.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

And I love just kind of having those partners and friends that I can rely on to say, I need help here. I don't know what any of this means, please help me. And everybody is usually so willing to help. And that's why when you started this group, I was like, Yay, more information. It's gonna be great. And everybody's interaction so far on the Facebook group has been just so kind and well welcoming. And I love to see that I love it.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, cuz what we really want to have happen is people who, you know, I would venture to guess that a lot of people have a lot of ideas. You know, we're entrepreneurial by nature, that's probably why a lot of us have got into the real estate industry, whichever side it is. And so you're always looking for different ways to leverage your time and leverage your resources. And what I really want to help people with is just to see, you know, how do I put one foot in front of the other. And if you do that, just like you said, you have a coaching program, and you do the system, and now your business has doubled basically every single year.

 

Mike Swenson 

So when it comes to building another area of within the real estate industry, whether it's another business, whether it's you know, your own personal investments, it's just figuring out how to take one foot and put it in front of the other. And then all sudden, you do that 50 times now you're 50 steps down the road, right? And so it's just been able to help people but you can't get to 17 properties until you do one property.

 

Mike Swenson 

And so at some point, we have to leap in with one and because you had a good opportunity because you understood the market well and you had the financial resources, you're able to do that. And then Okay, now I can do two now I can do three, and then fast forward three years in here at 17. That's how that happens is one after another we always talk about you know, what's the best way to eat an elephant one bite at a time.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Right. I like it. And I would say, you know, for the younger investors, because lots of kids kind of have these big dreams, and I say kids, but let's be honest, and the age. So if you feel like, you know, Hey, I just don't know where to go. There's so many financing options out there, maybe not through me specifically, because we typically do more, you know, your regular residential lending, so to speak. But there's so many financing options out there, and people that just want to help you.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So don't be afraid. If it's something you're thinking, maybe I want to check this out, what should I do, or if you have a trade or a skill, and you know, you even build your own sweat equity. For example, I've heard of so many kids, kids, again, I say, but people buying their house, their first house, yeah. And you know, using their skill to update the house, make it their own, and maybe they only stay there a year or two, but they make some good profit, while it takes a little bit more time. But still, you are creating that wealth for yourself. And then they do it again, and again and again. And it just works out so nicely for that extra cash so to speak.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, and I think what you said to in terms of lender partners, every lender is going to have a different niche, and every lender is going to have a different spots that they you know, are are knowledgeable in and want to work in just like a real estate agent. You know, you might want to work on a you know, as an agent on a certain part of the metro area, or maybe downtown or, you know, people focus on certain types of properties, whether it's duplexes are different things like that. And the same is true on your end.

 

Mike Swenson 

If you're not the right person to help that person looking to invest, you're going to refer to somebody else. And just like an agent would refer a business, you're going to do the same. So if you are an agent, don't be afraid to reach out to your lender, just ask Who do you know, that does these types of this type of financing that could help me out and you know, and that eight, or that lender is going to want to connect you with the right person, because now they're still being a resource for you, right?

 

Mike Swenson 

Just like you as an agent, if you're not the right person to take that listing, or work on the buy side, you're going to refer to somebody else, just because you want to be a resource and help them and so don't be afraid to reach out to your lender partners and ask, you know, who do you know, if it's not you that could help me with the financing here, if I'm looking to do a flip, or if I'm looking to do a buy and hold? What's that look like? That's why your lenders are there to be a resource.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

I agree. And you know, I guess another great resource, and I will totally share this is your title company. And I'm sure I know, we have some title people in our group as well. But they know so many people, if they've been in the business for a long time. They know investors, they know contractors, and lots of different lenders. So they're kind of my go to, you know, if I'm wondering who I should work with, as far as I'm going to whatever side of the transaction, I'll say, you know, who do you know, that I should know?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Or, for example, do you know any buddy that's struggling in the business right now that could maybe just use like a lending an ear for somebody to just say, Hey, I'm struggling with this right now. But that's why I feel like people that have been in the business for so long, we should have the responsibility of saying, I've been there before. Because yes, we all have been through ups and downs left and right. So if somebody is struggling to or they need to know who to talk to, that's where this group would come into play. And also, I feel like, like I said, my title partners, I feel like they know everybody in this area, and I rely on them kind of heavily to say, I need an introduction, because this is what I'm looking for.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, yeah. And people are willing to help if you ask, and yet they can't read your mind. So if you don't ask, it's probably not gonna happen. But once you start asking, it does open up a lot of doors. So yeah, if you just start asking the right questions of a few people pretty quickly, you can probably get connected with the people that you need to.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

That is true. I agree. 100%.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah. Okay, so anything else? So as you think about where you're at today, and by the time you hit 50, what is going to be your, your goal here moving forward, continuing to add more properties continuing to grow your business, anything else that you want to share of what you're working on or what you're looking to do in the future?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yeah, yeah. So I would say the biggest thing for us is creating lit Diversity. So one thing that we have done to kind of help with our rental properties, so to speak in some sort of tax flow, because I have a great CPA that said, this is something that will definitely help all of your different income sources. Because as a lender, I'm w two, my husband works also as a W two, but as a government employee.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So we have two very different ways of making our income and permission, he's salary, we have our rental properties, he also has created an LLC for a lawn care business. So we also have that to kind of help, you know, with the expenses of our rental properties to our goal is to expand that a little bit, ideally, by the time we retire. And we and the goal is to have somewhere around 20 ish properties. We'll see what our energy level is by that time, but we're hoping that's where we wouldn't be. And then, you know, still obviously, continuing in the lending business, 17 years, in the business, I've had a great time, but still expanding our team.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So we have actually 17 people that work on our team at cross country mortgage, and that comes in the form of originators, assistance processors, hopefully looking to hire our own underwriter as well. So continuing to expand in a time of being busy. So we can be sure to support all of our clients that we have now. And then also continuing our core activities. So if the business does slow down, at some point, we still are as busy as we want to be, because we've been doing all of those activities.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

So I guess I would say to for those of you that want to potentially, you know, work on your investing work on whatever part of your, in whatever part of the industry is your specialty, I'm always willing to answer questions or just have a coffee talk or a conversation to say, Hey, here's what I know, here's all the mistakes, I mean, cuz we've all made plenty, but I think mistakes are good, because you really learn from that I never think that they're you know, somebody has an experience where they consider it negative or something went wrong, so to speak, is just a learning opportunity, because the best thing you can do is fix it.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

And I think that's the greatest attitude to have in this business too. Because no one transaction is the same. And we are learning that as guidelines keep changing, interest rates go up and then immediately fall to the floor. properties are different, you know, prices are different appraisals are different. So I think it's important to kind of have as many conversations as you can with like minded people in in the industry.

 

Mike Swenson 

And to just to remind folks, you are you guys can also help with mortgages in other states too. Right?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Well, yeah, absolutely. I'm licensed in 11 states myself. And we have several partners within the company that are licensed in states that we are not. So of course, we always have somebody that can lend in every state.

 

Mike Swenson 

Yeah, cuz I think sometimes we may think of lenders like we may think of agents and so some agents, depending on where you live, you know, you might have two licenses of you know, here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, or something like that, but, but lenders have lots of licenses and lots of states.

 

Mike Swenson 

So just if you have clients that are moving, you know, you'd be more than happy to help in all those different states as well. And once again, just like the referrals we talked about, if not you you can find somebody that can help them out. So you don't have to be like if I'm moving to Florida, as lots of people in Minnesota like to do that. I have to go find somebody down there in Florida, you can help us with helping the Florida

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yes, of course, it makes sense in Minnesota for all of our snowbirds to have Florida and Arizona for example. Lots of our clients eventually end up either downsizing in Minnesota and buying their primary home in that warmer state. And we're always available for those sorts of things. Lots of stuff is virtual, you know, lots of stuff is online. I totally get it but we have several locations in Minnesota as well as across country. If you want that face to face, there's always somebody available.

 

Mike Swenson 

Great. Okay, so as we wrap up, then anything that you want to plug for us, how do folks get ahold of you? Or if maybe there's people that have real estate opportunities for you as well. How do they reach out to you?

 

Reyna Rousseau 

Yeah, I appreciate that. So you can always call me my direct cell phone is my only number. I do have an office number too. But if you want to get ahold of me, please give me a call on my direct cell at 651-226-4863. And then you can always email me, and we will put that below. We'll have it ready for you. But I always appreciate a coffee talk, or just to get to know like minded people in the industry. That's most important to me.

 

Mike Swenson 

Wonderful. So thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and thanks so much for being on.

 

Reyna Rousseau 

I appreciate it, Mike. Good to see you. We'll see you soon.

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