written by: Zanne Lamb-Hunt
Dana Dudley grew up in lower Montgomery County in a suburb on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. in the Wheaton/Silver Spring area. “It was a modest neighborhood. There wasn’t a lot of extra money for things.
“At a young age, I learned that if I wanted something I was going to have to earn it. So, I had a grass-cutting business. I had my own lawn mower.” During the winters, she shoveled snow. And, she also earned cash by cleaning houses in the neighborhood on Saturday mornings.
Dana admits to being a tomboy as a kid. “I played with tools, electronics and especially cars. I liked to see how they operated…how they worked.” She spent a lot of time at Summit Point Raceway where her father was employed.
She continues, “I was a bit of an odd kid. I liked weird pets. I had snakes.” Her younger sister, Rosemary, had a pet tarantula and rats. “We definitely weren’t into the dogs and cats scene.”
Dana and her husband like to spend time at Deep Creek Lake where they purchased a foreclosed property about four years ago. It’s still undergoing renovation.
They enjoy snowmobiling, boating, target shooting and spending time with family and friends. They also enjoy going to different auctions and events to support others.
Today, Dana Dudley is one of only two female auctioneers in Frederick County and is the owner of Double D Auction Service. She’s also a Mortgage Originator/Loan Officer with Frederick’s Fitzgerald Financial Group.
The Start Of Dana’s Career In The Mortgage Field
Dana attended school in Kensington and majored in business courses. Her Business Education teacher, Mr. Mudd, approached her in 1985 to inquire about her plans following her high school graduation in 1986.
She confided that she didn’t have any. “College was not going to be an option. My parents were not going to be able to afford for me to go to college.” So, Mr. Mudd decided he was going to have to get her a job.
“He set up some interviews. I got a job at Century Mortgage Bankers down in Kensington, Md. and started right away.” Dana went to school half-day and worked half-day.
She started “right into the processing business and went from there. They offered me full-time employment as soon as I graduated. Instead of going on the Senior trip with my friends, I went to work the next day.”
Dana adds, “I had to earn a living. I had goals to meet. I wanted to move out of my parents house as quickly as possible. I was actually able to do that about six months after graduation.”
She recently returned for her 30-year high school reunion and thanked Mr. Mudd “for seeing something in me that perhaps I hadn’t seen in myself.”
What’s The Biggest Change In The Mortgage Industry Since December 1985?
“The biggest change would be the ever-changing industry as a whole. When I started in the business, we had a typewriter. We had a calculator. We had a phone.”
She recalls, “There were no computers, no fax machines — everything was done by hand. It took six months to process a loan (yes, six months!) and, believe it or not, nobody complained about it.”
Why did it take so long? “Credit reports were ordered over the phone with the credit agency. You’d provide the information for the client. The credit report would then come in the mail.”
Dana feels that such experiences have helped to mold her. “I’m able to calculate closing costs, not needing a computer. I can do it by hand and I can do it in a couple of minutes.”
The Road To Becoming An Auctioneer
Dana’s husband used to drag her to auctions — farm auctions, heavy equipment, household — and she ended up working for a few auctioneers after taking an interest in the industry. Eventually, one shared that he thought she could become an auctioneer.
He said, “You definitely have the personality for it. You have the skin for it. And, I think you could do it.” She was asked to sell at a few household sales and caught the auctioneer bug.
Dana attended the Missouri Auction School in 2007. She stayed for a week and met people from all over the country. “It was just a great, great life-changing experience.”
She was taught how to chant, the denominations and the business side of auctioneering. “You pick up your chant on your own and the speed comes with time.”
What Sort Of Auctions Does Dana Handle?
Estate? Real Estate? Livestock? Yes, yes and yes! “We’ll sell anything from heavy equipment to fine jewelry to vintage items, collectables, households — you name it.”
Dana holds a consignment auction at the Frederick Fairgrounds once a year on the first Saturday of December. She also holds auctions on-site as needed. She’s also a ‘contract Auctioneer’ and shows up to sell for other Auctioneers.
“All auctions are reserve auctions unless they’re advertised as an absolute auction. A seller always has the right to reserve a piece and put a minimum bid on it.” The Auctioneer is not allowed to do that and discourages sellers from doing it.
“I won’t take reserves on my household sales unless it’s something really, really expensive and you just can’t sell it for less than ‘x’ and then we’ll have that conversation.” A good fair price is decided by the seller and the Auctioneer.
When giving a client an estimate of what an auction might bring in, Dana tries to be on the low end. “I want my client to be pleasantly surprised when they get their check.”
The Greatest Challenge Of Being An Entrepreneur
In The Auctioneer Realm —
“The biggest challenge that I face with that is just being a female in a male-dominated industry. There’s been a big, BIG hurdle to overcome.You’ve got to have some tough skin. We call it put-your-big-girl-pants-on-and-get-to-work.”
In The Mortgage Industry —
The biggest challenge is the ever-changing industry — the rules, the regulations, the guideline changes. You think you know a guideline. You know a guideline for ten, fifteen, twenty years — BOOM! — it changes! That’s not the rule anymore. It can be a bit painful sometimes when you forget it.”
Advice Dana Would Give To Her Former Self If She Could Go Back In Time
“To go into the sales side of the mortgage industry sooner than I did. I went into Processing, went into Underwriting, moved into Operations Manager.”
She continues, “In 2005, I opened up my own Mortgage Brokerage, Frederick Mortgage Group, with two business partners. That’s when I started my sales experience with becoming a Loan Officer.
“I knew how to process a loan, how to underwrite a loan, how to close a loan — I just didn’t know how to sell myself to clients and to realtors. You’ve really got to be out there.
“I think I would have started with that sooner. I wouldn’t have stopped with the comfort zone and guaranteed paycheck back at the beginning.”
Dana Knows She Makes A Difference In Both Industries
“Mortgages is definitely just helping the client achieve the ultimate and that’s the American dream of home ownership. I’ve had people cry on the phone when you call to tell them they’re pre-approved.
“I’ve had people cry when you call to tell them they have a formal loan commitment or cry at settlement. There’s no better way to satisfy what you do than to see somebody truly break down and realize that they’ve become a home owner. That is the ultimate American dream.”
When it comes to making a difference in the Auction industry, “I assist a lot of local charities, organizations and non-profits in this area and help support their cause.” They include the Mission of Mercy, the Heartly House, the Mental Health Assoc., YMCA, Maryland School For The Deaf and so many more.
One of Dana’s favorites is Team H.O.P.E. “which raises money for breast cancer research, prevention and raises money for different things mammograms, sonograms and clinical breast exams.”
A Life With No Regrets
“I live life with no regret — ever. I don’t regret anything I’ve done. I don’t believe in that. Any life experience helps mold you as to the person that you are.
“My husband and I are very fortunate. We’ve been together twenty-nine years. That’s saying something these days. We just enjoy life and live life with no regrets — ever.”
Reach out to Dana Dudley for your mortgage and auction needs to put her expertise in either or both fields to work for you!
301 – 606 – 5818
auctionzip.com (ID# 12972)
Contents Provided by Frederick Advice Givers Podcast Episode #080: Eric Verdi Interviews Dana Dudley