Loren Howard is a hugely successful entrepreneur, athlete, family man and benefactor, currently Founder and President of Prime Plus Mortgages.
Prime Plus Mortgages is Loren’s most recent venture and offers mortgages specifically aimed at the real estate investor, which are known as hard money loans and private mortgage note investing. Prime Plus Mortgages is based in Arizona.
Loren’s early career
Loren’s parents divorced when he was young, and initially, his Mum moved all over the country during his childhood. But they settled back in Arizona, where her family was. They were entrepreneurs and athletes on his Mum’s side of the family. He learned early about entrepreneurship, especially from his uncle’s mentorship.
Loren focussed on sports, football in particular. He initially studied communications and sociology at Northwestern University, till because of his football prowess, he transferred to ASU for his last year to enter the draft. At this point, he was the best in the country in the position he played in. In addition to his football, Loren also holds several world records for indoor rowing.
Then, he was injured. Loren describes it as the low point of his career, hitting him really hard. His sense of self-value had come from his football career, which was suddenly taken away from him. Loren started wondering who he was.
He overcame that struggle and said that the single-minded focus and discipline he had learned as an athlete helped him rebuild himself and a new life, but it was a tough time. He put his energies instead into business.
From Athlete to Prime Mortgages
Loren is refreshingly honest about all his challenges. His first business didn’t last long but taught him a lot. Like many entrepreneurs, he overfocussed on what they were doing and under-focussed on how they would sell. So he learned the hard way that you need a well-reported sales funnel and detailed sales and marketing plan to succeed.
He wanted to see what he was capable of and was determined to find success. When that business failed, Loren again rebuilt and applied himself. He read “The 7 Habits of Successful People,” which helped him re-align and find a new path despite the setbacks.
His first big success was with Alternative Web Media, which started in 2007, and at long last, he got the traction he wanted. Initially, they did design and SEO and then found real success in the lead generation arm, Alternative Web Leads. Loren says it is all too easy to burn through the margins with SEO, but they are good in lead generation. So good that by 27, he was still working out of a tiny apartment but made his first million dollars.
Loren says that he hasn’t got the same attitude to business now as he had back then. However, Loren’s people skills have helped him. He is naturally curious about people and has spent time and learned from others who are smarter than he is. He is a great believer in the power of networking, alongside learning from your mistakes and staying positive, building trust, and working with good people. And, of course, exercise.
A few years into Alternative Web Leads, Loren’s old school football coach reached out and asked him if he knew anything about pharma, compound pharma in particular. He didn’t but quickly became interested and co-founded Alpha Direct Pharmacy. This highly specialized pharma company created customized medications to order for physicians. It was a highly lucrative business, especially with pain creams which were covered by insurance and had massive margins.
Despite the returns, the stress told, and Loren’s life was changing along with his priorities. He married and had two children, and wanted a different lifestyle. Real estate seemed ideal. He already was involved with a couple of real estate investment companies, one in Arizona (LLH Development) and one in Tennessee, so he already knew how the market worked and its pain points.
Prime Plus Mortgages
Loren exited the pharma world for the opportunities in hard money lending and mortgages for real estate investment, taking out a banking license so they could process loans in 2012.
From the start, he had the advantage of having been a real estate investor himself and understanding what customers wanted from personal experience. That means first-rate service above and beyond what they could get somewhere else, along with speed and flexibility in obtaining the mortgages. So, they pride themselves on being the fastest hard money lender in Arizona, with some money coming through in as little as an hour and usually in 24.
They offer various types of mortgages, including hard money lending for investment property. Clients typically borrow above $150k for between six and twelve months.
Speed is crucial. Regular lenders absorb vast amounts of clients’ time with high upfront fees and long waiting times for approvals. Not only are they the fastest, but they also have the lowest down payments in Arizona. Unlike regular mortgages, funding is fast because no credit checks are involved. Hard money loans are based on the property value once they have been done up for sale, so there is no need to consider credit histories. Everyone wins.
The company plays to Loren’s strengths and experiences. He understands leverage and equity. His marketing background is ideal, enabling them to be strong on SEO and lead gen. And of course, he is good with clients. They buy a lot of data and get lots of repeat business because people love the speed.
Initially, Loren self-funded the mortgages from his two property investment companies. But as the company expanded, he added bank funding. But the appetite for the mortgages was such that Loren started to sell notes to friends and family. He offers a ten percent return and currently has an astounding $30m in funding notes through this. Everyone wins.
Arizona has a robust real estate market with a lot of speculation. Warm winters attract many people to migrate from California, Washington, and the Mid-West, continually growing the population. Loren believes the market still has life in it, and while they may sell out at some stage, Prime Mortgages is going strong for the foreseeable future. People have been able to use free money for a long while now. Still, they will be careful on underwriting, positioning themselves, and leveraging themselves well, so they should continue to thrive as they certainly have done in recent years.
Loren says that the company will never become super-wealthy, but they get good cash yields, and he has the lifestyle he wanted. He can spend time with his wife and take his boys to school for the next ten years. His relationship with his family is super-healthy with lots of cohesion and, Loren says, just gets better and better. He feels lucky to have it all.
He also gives back in various ways, including coaching other entrepreneurs via the Entrepreneurs Organization but most of all through the Valley Guardians children’s charity he co-founded. Originally, Braden Hudye became involved in a charity fundraiser in a small town in Canada for a child with cancer. He organized an event called The Big Buck Run and raised $12,000. They decided to formalize it and run it every year, and Loren went up to visit and was blown away by what was being achieved.
Braden and Loren co-founded The Valley Guardians back in Arizona. Initially, they sat down, made some plans, and held their first event, which raised £110,000. The Valley Guardians have been running for a few years now. Their last event raised an incredible $1.5m. Every dollar goes to the kids, helping those from low-income families find their potential and helping them succeed with education, mentorship, and financial and medical assistance.
Loren has been president for the last few years, but they have just brought in a new one though he remains on the board. He lights up talking of this work, which he hopes will be his legacy, and talks of how it has taught him how to give. He says he is continually blown away by people’s generosity and looks forward to how much can be achieved in the following decades.
You may also be interested in another entrepreneur working in Arizona real estate, Cody Sperber who I interviewed a little while ago.