“When you think you have done your best, go one step further to make sure.” This is the philosophy that guides Kimber White as not only a recognized leader in the mortgage industry for over three decades and as managing partner of Florida-based RE Financial Services, but as a citizen of and passionate advocate for the diverse tapestry that is humankind. “I think it’s important that we leave a footprint of what we’re passionate about. I’ve always had a passion to help people, and in my role, I’m able to use my life experiences to help others,” he shares.
While he holds an enviable number of distinctions and awards, Kimber’s drive was not born out of a desire to secure the litany of accolades that have adorned his remarkable career. It was born out of his imperishable belief that through his service in the mortgage industry he’s able to be a voice for all. His mission for inclusion comes from his own personal challenges that marked his ascent in life and the industry—and it’s one from which he’s never wavered.
In the late eighties, as an openly gay male on the rise in his early days in the field, Kimber was told he’d never make it in the industry. “I was determined to change this. I wanted people to see me as a mortgage professional, and it’s not about I’m a white, gay man, it’s about the industry needing to be fair to all,” he says. At the same time, Kimber also witnessed the inequity of mortgage approvals across the impoverished areas of the Appalachian region in which he worked. He not only challenged the status quo of what was then a “good old boys” system but rose to shatter the obstacles that threatened his dreams, and those of so many others. And rise he did, from a child of poverty in rural North Carolina to a successful mortgage leader determined to eradicate inequality and level the playing field of homeownership.
Today, Kimber stands as the immediate past president of NAMB and the recipient of the organization’s Mortgage Professional of the Year and Industry Service Awards. He’s listed among the Top 1% of Mortgage Professionals in the United States in 2020 and 2021 by Scotsman's Guide and the Top 100 Influential Mortgage Professional Globally by MPA magazine, and he’s the mortgage chair for the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. In 2014, he was given a proclamation by the mayor of Wilton Manors for his dedicated service in the housing industry and his advocacy for fair housing for all, a fitting honor for a man who has spent his entire career championing inclusion and equity in homeownership. “Everyone deserves the American Dream of owning a home, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, and if I can be a part of making that happen, then I know I’ve made a difference,” Kimber shares. “That’s why I do what I do.”
We sat down with Kimber to learn more about his experiences, why he loves the industry, and his work toward inclusion and equity for all.
Kimber, let’s start at the beginning. Why did you choose a career in the mortgage industry?
I was working in pest control in North Carolina in 1989 when I became allergic to the chemical. My accountant suggested the mortgage industry. He set up an interview with a friend of his, and I started working in a small town in West Virginia doing subprime mortgages. Later, one of my mentors said, “You’re great, but you’ll never excel because of your lifestyle.” I had owned a restaurant and other businesses, but I loved the mortgage industry and helping people achieve the American Dream of owning a home. When the market crashed in 2008, I stayed and helped people through the rough times. Our industry is ever-changing, but what never changes is the diversity of people you’re serving, whether someone needs a $3 million loan, or a first-time buyer needs a $60,000 loan. Unfortunately, wealth inequality is a fact, but I believe that everyone deserves a home, and I’ll do everything I can to make it happen—educating them to fix their credit or finding an affordable loan or alternative loan vehicles. For me, it’s not about the next loan; its about having compassion for people and helping them.
You’re a passionate advocate for inclusion and equity in terms of both mortgage approvals and the industry as a whole. Why is this important to you?
I grew up poor, with a single mom. At times, we were plugging our trailer into our neighbors to pay our bills. Never could I have dreamed of owning a home. I grew up, learned from school of hard knocks, and entered the mortgage industry. Then I looked back and thought, “What can I do? Sure, I can make a great living, but what can I do to make a difference?” I had seen—and experienced—the inequality and discrimination that kept people from owning a home or rising in the industry and I was determined to change this. I think we take for granted that people are on the same playing field, and really, they’re not. That’s why it’s important to me to be a voice for everyone. I get such joy from helping a person get a house, but it’s something special when I’m able to help someone who thought they would never be able to buy a home. That’s why I’m in the industry. And the reason in advocate is I know how hard it is in this industry. We still need more women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientations—and we need to champion their upward trajectory in the field. I see my job as protecting both consumers and the industry. For me, it’s about what can I give back.
What do you enjoy most about your work, or what drives you?
What drives me is my passion for the industry and my love for helping people realize their dreams. If you get into this business just for the money, you’re not going to last long, because that will dry up. For me, thirty-three years later, when that first-time buyer comes to me and gets into that home, or that person who is financially strapped gets refinanced, that’s what I love about my work.
Partner — RE Financial Services