You might have heard. The mortgage industry has had a few problems lately.
In one giant economic cringe, subprime loans, widespread defaults and federal finger-pointing have ruled the day.
But things aren’t all bailouts and bundled securities.
Right across Southeast Sixth Street, a group of members are not surviving the economic crisis—they’re thriving.
Part lending niché, part guts, all relationships—the Legacy Group has built, well, a legacy, on doing business the old-fashioned way.
“We always get face-to-face time with clients,” Legacy CEO Scott Rerucha says. “Our entire business is built off referrals.”
And it’s working. While thousands of banks and lending institutions have joined the FDIC graveyard, Legacy has stayed firmly in the black. In fact, the employee-owned company did more than $1 billion in loans this past year.
Not that it has been easy. Scott founded the Legacy Group right on the cusp of the economic recession in 2007.
“There were definitely some sleepless nights,” says Scott. “It’s been the toughest three years in the business.” He attributes much of the company’s success to a full in-house process, from underwriting to funding, which allows Legacy to handle construction loans and other loans that have become increasingly rare.
“We’re kind of sitting out here by ourselves,” he says. “We are a true real estate lending company that provides mortgage loans, construction loans, commercial loans and private portfolio lending. I have not been able to find another company in the country that has a lending platform like ours, especially in today’s lending environment. ”
Growing up, Scott was the kid with the paper route. In college, he was the guy who had already started his own business—a painting company with multiple crews operating all summer.
When he graduated from college in 1988, he had the opportunity to work with one of the region’s top mortgage producers. True to nature, he quickly became a top producer himself. He then went on to lead the Enterprise Bank’s residential lending department before serving as president and CEO of Bay Mortgage’s mortgage division, which was one of the largest mortgage bankers in the state.
But it hasn’t all been work: Sports have always played a huge role in Scott’s life.
As a longtime Bellevue Club member, Scott remembers playing in a tennis exhibition at the Club as a 16-year-old on the day it opened. He also played in the Club’s first men’s basketball league.
He played point guard at Newport High School and later was the No. 1 singles player at Seattle University. He even had a few memorable collegiate matches with current Bellevue Club Tennis Director Brian Nash, who was a tennis standout at Whitman College.
“I’ll let you ask him about it,” he says, laughing.
His love of playing sports has translated to coaching. From kindergarten to AAU teams, Scott has been coaching local youth teams for the past 25 years.
“Coaching has been a big part of my life,” he says. “It’s all about watching young people grow.”
Scott has brought a similar mentoring philosophy to Legacy.
“My favorite thing is watching young professionals learn the business,” he says. “Legacy has a formal sales mentorship program, and we’ve trained hundreds of young people in our industry.”
Although Legacy is only four years old, Scott has worked with many of his colleagues for the past 15 years, many of whom are active Bellevue Club members.
“People would be surprised to learn how many members work here,” he says. “We have a lot of good athletes.”
Besides his colleagues, Scott’s wife of 23 years, Mary Jo, is also an active tennis player at the Bellevue Club. He also has three children—Jenna, 22, Jeffrey, 20, and Griffin, 15.
Scott points to the level of camaraderie as helping carry the company through the mortgage industry’s tough times.
“It’s an employee-owned company so we’re all in it together,” he says. The same goes for Legacy clients:
“Our model has always been to do business with you for the rest of your life.”