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Meet Tressa Pope of Mortgage Lender in San Fernando Valley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tressa Pope.

Tressa, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I originally moved to Los Angeles after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Carnegie Mellon University. I landed a Talent Agent right away and began my career as an actor. I joined the Screen Actor’s Guild in 1998 and worked off and on in Television, Film and Theatre. To supplement my work as an actor, I started temping at local mortgage companies and joined Countrywide Home Loans full-time in the summer of 2001.

Believe it or not, I retired from Acting to pursue a mortgage career. I was good at it and excelled quickly in the Industry. I was promoted to different positions in Mortgage Lending – from Filing Clerk, Loan Processor, Underwriter and Operations Production Manager. Once I got to a point in my career, where I achieved a certain level of success, I started to question next steps.

In 2015, I felt frustrated and powerless that wasn’t doing more to help my community. When you have everything you’ve asked for in life: a nice house, a great husband, time to travel, friends, wine, fun… you start looking for other means of fulfillment. That, for me – was helping those achieve their definition of the American Dream, owning a home. I thought of my own childhood… living in the Hartwell Community of Cincinnati, Ohio. My Mother worked very hard to support my brother and me. She was an elementary school teacher, who played the organ at the local church, sold Tupperware and played the occasional wedding. She hustled. She helped us with our homework, supported our after-school activities and taught Sunday School. She would take kids in the neighborhood to the movies or to the County Fair and she mentored several women in the community that were raising kids, all on their own. And guess what? She owned her own home! She leveraged that home to help my brother and I have a good education, our own rooms and a place to feel secure and confident.

When I think of what I do every day in helping people – I think of my mother. She is my role model; she taught me how to make an impact in the community, just one person at a time. That is what I do. I help one family, one person at a time, obtain their dream of owning a home which gives them security and a future for their family.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Of course, it hasn’t been smooth. What great success story has an easy road?

I work in an industry that is dominated by a certain demographic, diversity can be hard to come by and so it can sometimes feel like you’re working on an island if you’re a minority women in this business. God bless some of my past superiors, they aren’t always the easiest to work with. They use sports analogies when they talk sales strategy. They give advice like, “Check credit scores first and hang up on anyone below a 600.” or “That’s nice you want to help the needy Tressa, but get rich first – then you can help the poor.”

In choosing to switch from a nice, six-figure salaried job to a COMMISSION-ONLY position, with no leads and no prospects…some people thought I was ill prepared to take on the challenge of becoming a Loan Officer.
But, I’d been an actor in Los Angeles – so I was ready for the ups and downs. Shaking hands, kissing babies, asking for business, I can do that. Those things weren’t the real challenge.

The real challenge came in choosing to specialize in government programs that offer down payment assistance for lower-income families. These programs are tough. They have complicated requirements, that not every Mortgage company is willing to support. In today’s market, property sellers aren’t always willing to accept an offer from a buyer getting a down payment assistance program.

But the rewards are immeasurable. When you get photos of happy buyers, who just got their keys – the struggle is worth it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mortgage Lender – what should we know?
I’m a licensed Loan Consultant with a background in Mortgage Underwriting. Some of the referral partners I work with have nicknamed me, “The Holistic Lender”. This is because I help people with whatever stumbling block is keeping them from buying a home – even if they aren’t yet ready. I work with them to put together a HOME BUYING PLAN. For some people, that means they may not be ready to buy for 2 years. Others may be ready in 1-3 months. Either way, I diagnosis and give them a prescription for success. If today is a “NO”… I give you resources and strategies that will get you a “YES” in the future.

One of my clients was not qualified for the home price that she wanted so we started to brainstorm ideas. After hearing about her work history – I asked her to send me a copy of her resume. “You’ve been on this job for awhile, and you’ve never received a raise?”, I asked. Turns out, she was too nervous to ask. So, we did a role play over the phone, she got her raise and…voila! 3 months later, she got keys to her new home.

Some of the things I coach people through maybe help with credit repair or budgeting. Perhaps, they need a side-hustle job for extra income or savings. Maybe they just need to finally go in and ask their boss for a raise!

I love what I do because I work with people who have already disqualified themselves for a mortgage before even applying for a loan. When they are referred to me, I learn about them first so I can address their individual situation. I have the honor of being a part of turning their discouragement around to help them fulfill their dream of ownership of a home.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My biggest role model, as I’ve mentioned before, is my mother, Patricia Pope.

Credit also goes to:
– Lynda Martin-Lawley my career mentor. She gave me my first permanent position at Countrywide and taught me that running a heart-centered business builds a long-lasting following.

– Ernest Tepman was another career mentor who helped me in my transition from Operations Manager to Loan Officer. When I was discouraged by ‘the suits’ thinking I wasn’t going to make it, he told me this; “The greatest revenge is just to be successful”. He taught me to be consistent and disciplined, and the business will come.

– Brent Pope, my husband. In 2014, he became a Nationally Board-Certified Teacher (only about 3% of California Teachers are). Watching him work hard to achieve this, gave me the motivation to work hard to achieve my goals. Plus, he is my biggest cheerleader and supporter.

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Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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