Barry Habib is an American entrepreneur born in New York to immigrant parents who is the founder and CEO of mortgage analytics firm MBS Highway as well as the successful producer of the iconic Broadway musical Rock of Ages and Las Vegas’ Criss Angel show. Barry attributes his success to an innate sense of optimism, hard work, and a knack for being authentic in all that he does.
Barry’s story begins in New York where he claims that his family was so poor, he could hardly “afford to pay attention sometimes,” but they all tried to make the best of it. “I didn’t think of myself as poor as I was,” Habib adds. Even after losing his dad at a young age, Barry maintains that he was a happy kid. He was exceedingly optimistic and a dreamer — traits that he stills believes contributed to his success.
Barry got his start selling stereo equipment from the trunk of his car. He enjoyed this first taste of business and still reflects fondly on some of the challenges that fundamentally shaped him. When something would go wrong, he believed that “there’s an opportunity here to make something really special that couldn’t have shown character…or built trust” any other way. If people had trouble with his electronics, he’d always return the phone call. “People were so shocked” when he called them back to make things right that they “felt obligated to either buy more or tell everyone they knew,” Habib recollects.
By the time he was 25, Barry was doing well in the stereo business and he graduated to buying real estate in New York. Once he saw better values in New Jersey, he began flipping, renting and selling properties there. On a whim, Barry decided to ask the man writing up one of his mortgages how it was done — and then how to do them himself.
Mortgages were a tough business to get into without any prior experience and no referrals to speak of. To get his first mortgage customer, Milton, to buy a house from him, Barry remembers leveling with him, saying, “I haven’t done any mortgages yet, so I’m gonna be a little green here.” Milt agreed, and the rest is history. “People want to help,” Habib maintains. “If you make yourself authentic and vulnerable, people want to come in there and do the right thing for you.”
At the beginning, Habib pounded on doors to drum up business, but he has since graduated to being named the top mortgage professional in the US on two separate occasions during the 1990’s. Apart from his tenacity, Barry believes strongly in building relationships and understanding what motivates your customer. Magnetism, he explains, is simple and fundamental to any transaction. “Make them feel better and smarter and they will want more of that.” To project that magnetism, though, you must educate yourself on what your customer he needs.
Of his approach to mortgages, Habib states, “It’s the largest transaction people make,” and therefore not something that he takes lightly. He has always been a student of his clients, trying to understand the implications of the transaction from their side, and that has made all of the difference. “What can I offer this person? How can I help this person?” Discover that, and he’s certain “they will be rooting for you.”
Finally, Barry says that he begins each day with prayer and gratitude. “Life is about giving,” he says. “I spoil my employees and I spoil my customers. Everyone gets more than they bargained for,” he explains. “Then the law of reciprocity kicks in and…they’ll want to be in a position to make magic happen for you.”
Barry continues to shed light on the trends and analysis of the mortgage industry with MBS Highway. He’s also in the final stages of writing his forthcoming autobiography — Money in the Streets — which should be hitting shelves soon. He says the title was inspired by the stories that his parents heard about America before immigrating. “There’s money in the streets. They thought all you’ve got to do is pick it up…and they were right.”
To learn more about Barry:
Website: MBS Highway
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