- Universal Lending hires Reggie Rivers.
- Rivers is Denver’s Renaissance Man.
- The former Bronco will ULC’s Director of Business and Community Partnerships.
Maybe his full name should be Reggie “Renaissance Man” Rivers.
Rivers, as any diehard Broncos fan knows, was a running back for the Denver Broncos from 1991 to 1996.
Even before his football career drew to a close, he was penning a column for the Rocky Mountain News, at the time the largest daily newspaper in Denver.
Rivers: The antithesis of a dumb jock
During this post NFL career, he shattered the stereotype of a dumb jock.
Rivers, 46, reads books like other people switch the remote on their TVs.
He currently is devouring:
- Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis.
- 21 Things I Wish My Broker Had Told Me, by Frank Cook (advice for Realtors)
- The Enemy by Lee Child, a Jack Reacher novel. He’s read the entire series.
In addition to being a voracious reader, Rivers has written five books himself — one a told-to autobiography of former Broncos wide receiver Vance Johnson and four novels. Rivers also has worked in radio and TV and is a motivational speaker.
“The “well-I mean-it’s like-you know” dumb jock stereotype that has been placed upon so many athletes past and present definitely does not apply to Reggie,” said Sam Adams, a TV sports commentator at Channel 9 KUSA and a well-known Denver-based comedian and a former newspaper sportswriter and columnist.
“He’s well-spoken, incredibly smart and extremely talented,” Adams said about Rivers.
“It’s no surprise that he’s been successful in so many of his post-NFL career ventures.”
Rivers will work with ULC’s retail division
In his latest venture, Rivers has joined Denver-based Universal Lending Corp., as Director of Business and Community Partnerships. (Universal Lending is a sponsor of InsideRealEstateNews.com.)
In this role, Rivers will work primarily with the company’s retail division to help develop partnerships that will help serve more people.
Universal Lending was founded more than 30 years ago and is still headed by Pete Lansing, who has during the past 31 years grown Universal Lending into one of the largest, if not the largest, locally based mortgage companies in the metro area.
Lansing is thrilled the Rivers has joined the Universal team.
“Reggie’s dynamic personality, along with the passion that he has always shown for people, makes him a perfect fit as we seek to reach out to serve more members of our community,” Lansing said.
Rivers earned a Master’s Degree in Global Studies from the University of Denver and he recently completed the course work and testing to become a licensed Mortgage Loan Originator.
“We know that his knowledge of the mortgage business, his understanding of who we are as a company, and his engaging personality will help us better inform our industry partners and borrowers about Universal Lending and the great customer service that we deliver,” Lansing said.
Rivers brings passion to the field
While some people may be surprised by the latest turn in Rivers’ career, it is a job he is tackling with enthusiasm.
“I have a passion for the mortgage industry that is surprising even to me,” Rivers said.
Most people require a mortgage to fulfill the American Dream of owning a home.
“Purchasing a home is one of the most important and impactful commitments a family will ever make,“ Rivers said. “Owning a home doesn’t just transform the family; it changes the entire community for the better,” Rivers continued.
But Rivers is well aware there are risks, as well as rewards to owning a home, which for many people is their single largest asset.
Watching the crisis from the sidelines
“We saw that risk realized in the mortgage collapse in 2008,” Rivers said.
“People losing their homes, their lives being devastated and the mortgage industry as a whole was gutted,” he said.
“As I watched that from the sidelines, questions just started bubbling up. How in the world could this happen? What were the economic and structural forces that allowed it to happen or caused it to happen? Was this mortgage collapse a threat that had been looming on the horizon since the day the mortgage was invented, or was this a new consequence caused by new financial and/or regulatory practices?”
On one level, it is easy to understand, he said.
“People were buying homes they couldn’t afford, and banks were loaning money to people who couldn’t afford to repay the loans. That’s simple enough,” Rivers said.
“But I couldn’t understand how Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, etc. all got surprised by the toxic assets on their books. How did all of these big banks full of smart people not see the huge risk looming on their books? (or if they did see it, how did they ignore it?)”
Always the bookworm
As is his want, he became a student of the crisis, immersing himself in books such as:
- The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
- The End of Wall Street by Roger Lowenstein.
- The High Beta Rich by Robert Frank.
- Richistan by Robert Frank.
- The Madoff Chronicles by Brian Ross.
- Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis.
- Boomerang by Michael Lewis.
- Conspiracy of Fools (about Enron) by Kurt Eichenwald.
“These books and countless articles gave me a rudimentary understanding of how the mortgage bond market with its mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, inaccurately rated bonds (therefore inaccurately rated risk), credit default swap insurance policies, bond tranches, etc. all created an environment in which home values all over the country were suddenly linked together in a way they never had been before,” Rivers said.
The Great Recession led to the first national housing collapse since the Great Depression that started in 1929.
Rivers put that into perspective.
“Real Estate has always been very local,” Rivers said. “A hurricane in Florida doesn’t impact home prices in Nebraska. But in 2007-2008, it was possible for home prices to plummet in California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Las Vegas and everywhere else, all at the same time and all for the same reasons. That reality fascinated me.”
Those events sparked his intellectual curiosity, but as he said, he was on the sidelines.
Lansing and Rivers hit it off
Then on Dec. 5, 2013, he had a fortuitous and life-changing meeting with Lansing.
Rivers was the master of ceremony for an annual fundraising breakfast for Escuela de Guadlupe, a dual-language elementary school in West Highland.
It turned out, Lansing’s daughter was a teacher in the northwest Denver school.
“Pete approached me afterward and complimented me on my sense of humor and the way that I had handled the event,” Rivers recalled.
Lansing asked if he did corporate events and on Feb. 12, 2014, he was the MC for Universal Lending’s annual meeting.
Prepping for the annual meeting, his role grew.
“Initially, I was just going to be the Master of Ceremonies and inject a little bit of humor into the proceedings,” Rivers said.
“Then we decided that I should give a motivational talk about teamwork. Then we decided that I should go out with a camera crew and interview Realtors to learn exactly what they’re looking for in a loan officer.”
“He was obviously a very successful and driven person, but it was just as obvious that he’s a generous and respectful person who doesn’t take himself too seriously,” Rivers said.
“Everything from the way that he talked about his employees to the effort that he put into inspiring, entertaining and rewarding them at the annual meeting to the respect that he showed the opinions of other people told me that Universal Lending must be a great place to work.”
Universal Lending: A champion mortgage lender
Asked if he sees parallels between being on the Broncos team, and Universal Lending’s team, he didn’t hesitate in answering.
“Yes, of course, I see parallels,” Rivers said.
“I’ve been on teams my entire life, and whether it’s a good team or a bad team, a team that people love to be part of or hate to be part of, the team exists, and teammates have to learn how to work together to get the best out of themselves, and to collectively achieve much more than any of them could do on their own.
“I am a life-long learner, and for me, a team is the best classroom you’ll ever find. As teammates work together knowledge is shared, ideas are incubated and new solutions are developed that make the entire team more energized, more engaged and more effective.”
Rivers said at Universal Lending he will learn the mortgage business from some of the best people in in the industry.
“I’ve already learned a tremendous amount from Pete and his leadership team,” Rivers said.
“I’ve started learning from Universal Lending’s loan officers. I plan to learn from the processors, the underwriters, the secondary market folks, the compliance officers, etc. The more I learned about the mortgage industry, the more I wanted to learn,” Rivers continued.
“By the time I met Pete, I had learned about all that I could on my own, and I was ready for more structured education about the mortgage industry.”
So what does he think he can bring to the table initially at Universal Lending?
“Energy, enthusiasm, intellect, expertise in marketing, expertise in relationship building, creativity, a strong reputation in the community, a heartfelt desire to make a difference in people’s lives and a true belief that my best purpose is to serve others,” Rivers answered.
The full scope of his contributions will unfold with time, he said.
“In an ideal world, I am starting out as nothing but potential, and that potential will manifest itself in the months and years to come in ways that we can’t imagine right now,” Rivers said.
Adams, the sports commentator and ever the comedian, however, does have a bone to pick with Rivers.
“Great guy, but I still haven’t forgiven him for blocking a punt against my Cleveland Browns in 1993,” said Adams, who like Rivers is an Ohio native.
Adams quip, is a view, of course, that would not be shared by many in Denver.
Denver’s Renaissance Man
But what drives Rivers to be everything from a gridiron star to a novelist to a mortgage expert…a Renaissance man of sorts?
“The simple answer is that I love learning,” Rivers said. “I have a great curiosity about life, people, processes, etc. and the flickering flame of that curiosity keeps illuminating the area just in front of me, and I feel compelled to take the step forward to see what’s just beyond the light.
He sums of his litany of accomplishments this way.
“During my career, I’ve been blessed to be an NFL football player, newspaper sports columnist, op/ed columnist, radio talk show host, public affairs TV talk show host (KBDI Channel 12), TV sports anchor, TV football analyst, author of five books, motivational speaker, benefit auctioneer, business analyst and now a mortgage professional.”
About Universal Lending
For more than three decades, Universal Lending Corporation has helped thousands of families achieve their dream of home ownership. ULC has always focused on responsible lending practices and understands the impact that every loan has on the community. In Colorado, Universal Lending operates branches in Denver, Fort Collins and Lakewood. Outside of Colorado, there are offices in Iowa, Texas, Illinois, Montana and New Mexico.
Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. InsideRealEstateNews.com is sponsored by Universal Lending, Land Title Guarantee and 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.