Owner and President of Carolina Ventures Mortgage Attributes Success to Connection, Candor and Dedication

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Whitney Bulbrook, who fell into the business by chance, is the No. 1 mortgage broker in North Carolina

Whitney Bulbrook, President, Carolina Ventures Mortgage

By Anna Wesley Dubach | Photography by John Michael Simpson

Upon graduating from UNC in 2005 with a major in romance languages, Whitney Bulbrook was unsure about her career path. However, her aunt, Diane Davis, had an idea for her niece who had studied abroad in Seville, Spain. “[Diane] plucked me right out of college and said, ‘You’re fluent in a second language, you’re getting into the mortgage industry,’” Whitney recalls. Her uncle, Kearny Davis, hired her as a mortgage loan originator at his Chapel Hill company, Carolina Home Mortgage, where Diane, his wife, is a business manager. In this position, Whitney worked with the Latino community, originating mortgage loans for borrowers utilizing a tax ID number instead of a Social Security number. “I really enjoyed the people and the communication and the puzzle of it all, so I stuck with it,” she says.

Understanding the industry was no small feat, and Whitney spent hours studying and training with Kearny. “I dove headfirst into the mortgage business having really no idea what a ‘mortgage’ was or what the term ‘underwriting’ could possibly mean,” she says.

“I’m not always going to find the perfect time to do something, right? Had I gotten to pick it would I have started it at that moment? No, but I’m glad that I did.”

Whitney Bulbrook

After eight years with Carolina Home Mortgage, Whitney was encouraged by her husband, Jim Bulbrook, to open a firm of her own. At the time, she was pregnant with her first child but had a clear vision for her own business and took the leap of opening Carolina Ventures Mortgage in 2013. “I focused on streamlining the process, moving 100% digital and creating an incredibly easy closing path for clients with … same-day pre-approvals, 10-business-day closings coupled with low rates and fees,” Whitney says. And she’s got a solid team behind her in Lora Smith, Lindsey Gillespie and Stacy Guillemet, along with Jim, who handles IT and website maintenance.

Whitney’s first tool in her entrepreneurial toolbox, as she calls it, is setting expectations with clients. She explains that overpromising and underdelivering is a recipe for failure, so she is always candid with those she helps. The second principle is one she learned from Kearny: ’fess up when you mess up. Though making that call is hard, she says it is the right thing to do in order to move forward and find solutions.

Sticking to her principles has paid off. In 2021, she was honored to be one of a handful of brokers invited by UWM Holdings Corporation, the top mortgage lender in the nation, to ring the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. She was also named one of the top 50 mortgage brokers in the nation in the 2022 Scotsman Guide’s rankings, as well as the No. 1 mortgage broker in North Carolina for the past six years.

Brett Bushnell, managing broker and sales manager at Compass Real Estate, often refers clients to Whitney. “[Her] dedication, expertise, problem-solving skills and customer service are exemplary,” Brett says. “How she runs her mortgage company at such a high level while balancing her family life with her four young children with her husband, Jim, is amazing.”

During family time, Whitney loves to cook, kayak and dress up in creative and coordinated Halloween costumes alongside her husband and kids, Simone, 9, Heather, 7, Weston, 4, and Vanessa, 2. (Last year, the family dressed as characters from “101 Dalmatians.”)

Her passion for the mortgage industry is fueled by the community and connections she fosters through her work. Whitney says she often crosses paths with her clients, whether in the grocery store or on bike rides.

“I love meeting people in that regard and running into people who I’ve helped with financing because … it makes me feel even more connected to Chapel Hill,” she says.

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