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Posted on Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Gold Star Mortgage seeks new headquarters as it looks to add 100 new jobs in Ann Arbor

By Ben Freed

Gold Star Mortgage founder and CEO Dan Milstein’s current problem is serious, but it’s one many other executives would love to have. Gold Star has grown so quickly that it no longer fits into its offices on Packard Street, and has even outgrown a second office in the Avis Farms office park in Pittsfield Township.


Dan Milstein founded Gold Star Mortgage 12 years ago in Ann Arbor.

“We just added 5,000 more square feet at Avis because we just don’t have room,” Milstein said.

“This summer we signed a two-year lease there, and we have already added about 85 jobs. We’re looking to add 100 additional jobs in Ann Arbor in the next 15 months or so. We’re looking at spaces right now to combine both offices and add even more seats.”

While Milstein said he has looked at numerous rental and purchase opportunities around the Ann Arbor area, he is most intrigued by the old Border’s headquarters on Pheonix Drive in Ann Arbor. The building is currently being managed by McKinley, Inc., which was appointed property and asset manager of the property after the previous owner defaulted on a loan for the property. It is now being listed by Jim Chaconas for Colliers International for $6.9 million.

Milstein toured the facilities recently and said that there was about an 80 percent chance that his company would move into the space.

“I know that at this point in time we are in desperate need of space,” he said.

“I don’t want to add a third campus in this area, it doesn’t make sense. I’d like to unite my centers into one campus. We have over 200 employees in Ann Arbor right now.”


The former Borders headquarters has been vacant since the bookseller moved out

File photo

Gold Star is a full service mortgage company that offers loans to home buyers and refinancers as well as commercial loans, financial planning services, and insurance. Brokers at Gold Star have access to 80 different banks and help customers choose financial products from those banks that fit their needs.

According to the company's website Gold Star's revenues have increased by more than 750 percent since 2005 and they are closing over $1 billion in loans every year. According to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association, both commercial and residential loans dropped sharply across the country in 2007 and 2008 but have been recovering slowly thanks to historically low benchmark interest rates set by the Federal Reserve.

Major factors in the downturn included the economic recession and the bursting of the sub-prime mortgage lending bubble that brought down major investment banks that gambled heavily on what turned out to be "toxic" mortgages that were never paid off.

In 2011, $1,262 billion was loaned to families across America, and due to low interest rates, 68 percent of those loans were refinancing older loans. The MBA forecasts that as the economy continues to recover, interest rates will rise causing a dip in refinancing but a return to new lending as families are able to afford to buy houses. The forecast calls for $1,466 billion in loans to be made in 2012, and $1,043 in 2013. However, it calls for home purchase loans to be flat between 2011 and 2012, but grow by over 50 percent to $631 billion in 2013.

In the past, Milstein has attributed his company’s success both during and after the mortgage crisis to a decision not to deal in sub-prime mortgages and a focus on making sound and realistic loans. Because they were able to grow during the downturn, Gold Star benefited from the closing of other mortgage companies both in acquiring new clients and snapping up brokers and executives from failing firms.

The company’s rapid and continued growth has led to expansion and the hiring patters involve a combination of sales jobs that are spread across the country in both new and established markets and operations jobs that are mostly in Ann Arbor. Gold Star has also opened an operations center in Dallas recruit former MetLife employees, especially those with underwriting expertise and experience. Milstein said at one point there were discussions at Gold Star about moving out of state and setting up further operations centers in other markets.

“But now that there is not a Michigan business tax anymore, Michigan has become a more appealing area for us to stay,” he said.

As of September 27, Gold Star employed 525 people at 45 branches in 23 states. However, those numbers might be inaccurate today as the company is growing at a rate of approximately 30 new employees per month.

He said he’d like to be hiring people at an even faster rate right now, but the competition for top talent in the industry is extremely fierce.

“The very few companies that are left in the business, we’re all fighting for the same people right now,” he said.

“We have little to no turnover, but we constantly need to hire because our business has been growing every year by at least twofold.”

One source of new talent for Gold Star has been college graduates. The company has hired 70 recent grads this year and put them into a training program that can last anywhere from three months to two years depending on what the employees job will be upon completion of the program.

“We train them here in Ann Arbor, and then transfer them to wherever an opening is that needs to be filled,” Milstein said.

“We found that training within in many cases is better than hiring someone with experience. Not for all jobs, but when you bring people in you still have to spend a lot of time training them in our systems. We found that college grads nowadays are willing to learn and work hard.”

Milstein does not get to broker many deals himself these days. He said most of his time is spent with employee retention, long term strategy, and “dealing with regulators.” He is also writing “book two” and “book three” as he calls them, which will be released late this year and early in 2013. His first book, The ABC of Sales, sold 10,000 copies in March and was the No. 1 sales book on earlier in the year.

Being an executive and removed from the direct sales where he started his career has been bittersweet for Milstein.

“I love what I do,” he said. “Even if I don’t have quite as much fun as I used to.”

Ben Freed covers business for Reach him at 734-623-2528 or email him at Follow him on twitter @BFreedinA2


Candice Davidson

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 10:08 a.m.

What I am hoping is that this Gold Star hires mature individuals and not only new grads. If they seriously delve into the new grads pile, I truly hope that the gender base is equal to men and that when the hire the females that sensitivity training and some life experience is taught during orientation and through out their tenure with this company. Most of your applicants for lending will tend to be older and have more credit worthiness. This is important that whomever they select comes from a more mature pool of Gold Star position applicants. In addition, this Gold Star has asked for my business as a client for a future secure government loan as they will see more VA loan applicants towards their lending goals. Gold Star is a new mortgage lender and we can only hope that they are not the type to use multiple sister mortgage companies to pass mortgages from one hand to another. There is too much of this. Again, I hope that Gold Star will be one of the better companies to offer as their clientele increases. The regulations for lending need work and the need to push for balloon mortgages would be a bad start if they believe that this is the way to take properties and make turn key profits of their own. There are too many companies like that and as consumers, we have the right and the resources of this internet age to take the time to refuse to sign for products that may be detrimental to the future of any borrower. As for the new applicants who sound to be "ambitious", I hope that these folks understand this market & climate, & shelf any high browed hopes towards greedy& careless ambition. This clientele, as w/ other financial institutions, are comprised w/ human beings who have lives, are busy & who have a lot to lose if this company is tempted to act in any way unethical. To new applicants, DO obtain REAL life experience if you have to cram for it. Many of you may come from charmed lives. This business is all about people. Don't ever forget i


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

I would have liked to have seen some sort of indication in this piece as to the sorts of positions & talent Gold Star is looking for. Are these broker positions? Financial analysis? Portfolio management? Soon-to-be and current graduates in this area are likely highly interested in learning more.

Candice Davidson

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 10:23 a.m.

I would like to see more men working again over women. The women in the business place seems to be unraveling the business sector (I am not a pro or anti gender anything) however, our society is seeing fewer men in the sector of business and it seems that men have a better grasp of working with people. Women (predominately) come off far too defensive and at times tend to being their home lives to work and flake out on how to deal with others or even in how to think creatively while helping others in this field. Too often, many of us have heard (well d you have "family" or "friends" to give you money or help with this or that? This is a retarded question folks as if potential clients have money tree relatives and friends, I seriously doubt that they'd ask for suggestions from the representative. Women also complain too reguarly about not having enough break or just complain in general as they are working in the lives of others and this is all over. It is time for men to jump back into the business world and take on a leadership role because this "Working Girl" act is not cute any more and far too many women complain about their hours and work in the middle of their work. It is rare to hear men actually spouting off like this or half arsing it. As a female, I know, however, I also knew when to can the personal gripes and the jealousy, back biting and false witnessing to set up others to lose their jobs. I haven't worked in over a decade, but I will say this, I refuse to work with a woman who acts like a child in business or who speaks as if the world is beneath her time. TOO many women act like this or they act as if their brains fell out of their ears on the way to work. Women LOVE money to shop. Many of them work in key positions that they aren't suited for. Just because some applicant has a degree, this should weigh in at most lower middle . Who ever is hired has to be trained any way. The most important thing is that they know how to

jackson west

Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

I've had a lot of issues with the area the building is in. There are a lot of stray dogs in the area and they have started running in packs. The packs seems to have their own identity and there are some serious rivalries between the many packs of wild dogs. I hope that this company, if they do move in, will do something about the packs of wild dogs.


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

How long has this dog issues been going on? Are they large dogs, small dogs, or a mixture of all types of dogs? It does seem that somebody should get this figured out and get this problem resolved. The big question that must be answered is, who let these dogs out?


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 11:59 a.m.

Welcome to Ann Arbor...Lots of grads and lots of young, bright people willing to work hard - Great opportunity.


Thu, Oct 11, 2012 : 11:12 a.m.

I wondered for a while whether Thomson Reuters might look into the old Borders campus, but I've seen no evidence of that. Good to see that there's a possible tenant sniffing around.

Candice Davidson

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

Why Borders jump the tank is STILL uncertain to me and they should have offered to merge with Amazon to stay afloat. They should have merged with other book sellers and such companies because Borders had a good thing going for nearly 15 years or slightly more. Rueters may not be a bad idea, as they are predominate in text book production and sales. You probably will not see any evidence of that because common sense seems to be "out of style" in this Justin Bieber society. We can only watch and wait if Gold Star takes on a Gold Standard of ethics and maturity and not only hire folks out of cutting a buck to take on cheap grads. The mid 30 plus+ Plus mile high should not be over looked. As I commented earlier, this country truly has to go back to hiring with discretion and not for blondes or flakes, but to get in a good crowd mixed with talent, emotional experience, and emotional maturity. The reason many businesses are tanking is due to this hiring of the same type of people. Get some well rounded folks who are able to discuss options and interact with all walks of life. grad students need work, but there are thousands out there who are willing to humble down on salary if the benefits balance out the lack of strong pay for mature folks. New companies want cheap labor & this will be a disaster if this process repeats itself in Ann Arbor. Go out side the boxing ring and hire some older folks and not those who are in it for shoe money, Coach bags any folks living above their means. Hire family men who will work with the company for the good. As for females, be very discerning and hire applicants who at least has had to raise a family alone and are mature enough in this very senstivity information business. Not every grad is bright and not every one is willing to work hard or are even consumer oriented particularly in this cell phone/text addicted environment. I know that good sense will be wasted and the same detatched, live at home girls will be hired fo