If you can see it, you can be it.
Nuria Rivera, Founder and CEO of Novation Title Insurance Agency, tells the story of starting her own business — in the time of TRID, in the face of numerous critics who outright advised her against starting a title company — and which high profile female mortgage Latina offered the support that ultimately led to Novation Title.
Join two friends, both successful mortgage entrepreneurs, as they confront real issues like gender competition and recount moments that celebrate leaps of faith, friendship, support, courage and other “female” leadership characteristics.
An excerpt from the interview:
Kristin Messerli: You were easily one of the first people I thought of when I was thinking about people that have made a shift in their lives or had pivotal moments, because we’ve had many conversations about this. So I wanted you to just share, and again, if others don’t know, you are the founder/owner of Novation Title and have done so much with your career, but would love for you to share a little bit about your career history and then get into, we can talk about some of the pivotal moments.
Nuria Rivera: Sure. So I’ve been in the real estate industry for 15 years now. I got into title and escrow when I was 22, so I was very young, and I loved the real estate industry and I did that type of work for a nine year period. I went through the crash, I got into it right before the crash, and I went through the crash and then here we are, crash and a pandemic.
But about six plus, well, almost six years ago, I decided to launch my own title company. And so I was a technician in it, and I was really good at what I did as far as the everyday work and being a really great closer and escrow officer. And then, so I did that for nine years and then I decided to do my own thing. It was kind of a moment where it was a very defining moment for me, where I wanted to really disrupt my industry in a positive way and change that closing experience. So we’ll be six years old open in August, which is crazy to think about.
Kristin Messerli: That is so amazing. Congratulations on the six year mark. So you have shared with me lots of moments when you have had kind of a pivotal moment, but I want you to share a little bit about how, because your family came over from Mexico and Spain, is that right?
Nuria Rivera: Yeah.
Kristin Messerli: Yeah. And you’ve always been very driven, and I would love for you to share what was it that you were thinking when you were really young? Were you always planning to start your own business, or were you just thinking, I want to achieve the American dream, or what was your thought process?
Nuria Rivera: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I arrived to the United States when I was 11 years old from Mexico. My dad’s side of the family is Mexican and my mom’s the Spanish side. And so growing up and coming to the United States at such a young age, and obviously my parents had to sacrifice a whole life to come to the United States for a better one. And I had an idea of what the United States of America would look like and would be like, and it was that plus so much more. And so culture shock, but also, there were a lot of things I wanted to do as a child, go and buy school clothes like my friends did, or go do extracurricular activities. And there were limited funds for those types of things.
And so I just had a moment where I was really upset about it and I declared to the universe that I would never live my life that way. And it was a choice that I made at a very young age, where I knew it was going to be up to me to make something of myself. And so that’s when that kind of big vision and ambition was born within me. I feel like I’ve always had a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit, even as a younger child. I would get on the bus with the kids and I would sell them colored pencils and shirts or whatever to make extra money. So I feel that spirit’s always been within me, but the moment that my ambition was born was when I knew this was a land of opportunity and I need to take full advantage of it.
Kristin Messerli: Amazing. And you were, I mean, a young woman starting your company, were there any challenges around that or was there a moment that you had to make a decision, you know, I can own my own company? Was that a mental shift that you had to make, or what was your thought process?
Nuria Rivera: Yeah, I had all of these ideas of how I could really redefine that closing experience for the consumer and the clients, because I felt like people were coming in to a title company or escrow company and feeling like another number. So it was very important for me to apply all these ideas and get very creative on what the experience could actually look like. And so I played with a lot of thoughts around that for about a four year period, but when I actually made the decision and I started talking about it, of course there were a lot of challenges. I would say that most people in my industry were betting on me to not succeed. And I had a lot of people who tried to talk me out of launching my own business.
This was during TRID time. Remember that, when TRID came out and regulations were really a big part of everything. And so everyone was just like, this is the worst time for you to do this. Don’t do it. And a lot of the people in my industry, other title company owners, it is a very male dominant industry. And so they’re middle plus aged, and they’re male. And so here’s that 31 year old girl coming in and saying, I want to disrupt this. I want to change this up. So I definitely had more people that didn’t want me to do it and wanted me to talk out of it, but an inner circle that was amazing, who really helped empower me to do so.
And I know you just had Patty Arvielo on. She was actually a huge influence in that decision making process, because I went to a NAHREP event. I’m sure you were probably there. And I saw her speak on a panel, and I just saw this other Latina who was this huge powerhouse, owns one of the largest private mortgage companies in the United States. And I was just like, wow, someone with my similar background is doing such huge things. And so as soon as she was done with that, I went up to her and said, “Hey, I loved everything you shared. You’re amazing. I’m thinking of starting my own title company.” And she just looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Absolutely go for it. You can totally do this.” And it was kind of like the last little piece that I needed to feel like I can. Yes, I believe I can.
Kristin Messerli: Oh, I love that so much. Yeah, it’s funny. I think I started my business maybe right before you did. We didn’t know each other yet. But it was, I remember when TRID was coming out and I just had so much self doubt, but yet so much ambition, so it was like, oh, I don’t care, the more that you think I can’t do this, I’m going to do it anyway. But watching people that looked like me, it really is crazy how powerful that is. And that’s something that I just, I’m so passionate about because if you see someone that’s successful that you can at least see yourself in, in some way, then it allows you to feel like, okay, no, I can imagine myself there.
And that’s why I think her voice and now your voice is so powerful and important to our industry and continuing to allow others to feel that. But having those people also then say you can do this is extremely meaningful. So I love Patty and love that story.
Nuria Rivera: Thank you. It’s really important.