As a young man growing up in Tucson, Tim Brigham knew if he worked hard enough, someone would take notice and offer him a good job. And that is exactly what happened — and how the former retail computer salesman went to work in the mortgage industry. “I knew that I had to give this every ounce of everything I had, or I was going to fail, and failure was not an option,” he said, looking back on his career.
After four months on the job, Brigham became the top loan officer at the branch, bypassing other top producers. “It was the subprime days, refi-boom,” Brigham notes. “Everyone said, ‘Kid, hang on tight — this isn’t going to last.’” Fast-forward 20 years and Brigham is now a branch manager with Union Home Mortgage, and he hasn’t forgotten his roots. He’s maintained a strong connection to the Arizona real estate market throughout his career and still considers the state his home.
“I have a Chicago branch address, but I’m from Arizona and I am seasoned veteran in the Arizona market as I have closed hundreds of deals there in my career,” he said, adding that, most importantly, clients will never have to wait for him to call them back. “You’re not going to have to reach out to us; we’re going to reach out to you.” In today’s hot market, a delayed return call could mean clients losing out on the home of their dreams, he said in a recent interview. “Sometimes waiting until tomorrow results in clients moving on to somebody else,” he said. “If a client calls me 11 o’clock at night, I’m going to pick up. All that matters is the client.”
Brigham said Arizona is becoming one of the hottest residential real estate markets in the country because more people are seeing value in the lifestyle the state provides. “You have to be a pro to survive in that market; otherwise, you’re going to lose out on the deal,” he explained. Brigham has been serving clients in Arizona since that start of his career in mortgage lending, but the unprecedented growth he’s seen in the last few years is completely new.
“Tucson has grown so much that it’s almost unrecognizable — in a good way,” according to Brigham. “We’re also seeing record growth in places like Gilbert, Chandler and Scottsdale. It’s really exciting.” And the mortgage industry boom goes far beyond the wave of refis lenders saw in 2020 and 2021. Part of that shift is connected to the pandemic, though, because of the trend of people working from home, Brigham explained. “Many workers can live their life and support their family and look at a scenic mountain range rather than driving to an office park every day,” he said.
In addition to providing excellence to his clients, Brigham has sought out ways to give back to his community. It all started about five years ago, when his young son Dominick was hospitalized with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), an illness that can be fatal if not treated quickly. He spent three days in the hospital, receiving treatment every hour on the hour.
It happened to be superhero week, and patients were participating in a game of seek and find. “In the end, they all got together and picked out a toy and acted like normal kids for five minutes,” Brigham recalls. Moved by the experience, he launched The Superhero Collective, a not-for-profit organization that sends volunteers dressed in superhero costumes — his alter ego is the caped crusader Batman — to visit children undergoing treatment at hospitals, to distract them from their illnesses and bring them toys.
“When Batman is visiting with his fellow superhero friends, kids forget the reason they are even in the hospital,” says Dora Castro-Ahillen, child services program manager at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital. “The superheroes are always gracious, letting them know that they are the real superheroes, bravely facing their healthcare challenges.”
While the experience brings a lot of smiles for the kids, parents tend to become emotional. “You expect tests and blood draws to be done,” Ahillen says. “You are not expecting to meet Wonder Woman, Spiderman or Batman. It creates a very positive, memorable image in their minds about that hospital visit.”
Expanding its reach, The Superhero Collective renovated a 1,200 square-foot house and donated the property to a local oncology nurse who survived a rare form of cancer in 2019. Phoenix Agent magazine spoke to Brigham about the joys and challenges of running a non-profit organization that’s dedicated to making children who are suffering from life-threatening illnesses happier.
Phoenix Agent: What would people be surprised to know about The Superhero Collective?
Tim Brigham: It looks fun, but it’s gut wrenching. I’m the last cool thing that happens for a child fighting a terminal disease they didn’t deserve. I don’t care how much pressure you have in your job — try that.
PA: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from volunteering?
TB: All of my problems are solvable. I thank the Lord for never giving me anything I cannot handle.
PA: What do you like most about volunteering?
TB: We’re actually making a difference. Also, I love the fact that it’s now tied to my industry. We have tangible real estate that is going to change someone’s life.
PA: What should mortgage professionals look for in a non-profit before making a commitment to volunteer?
TB: Find something you would be honored to be a part of — something you feel like you are meant to do — and make sure you are dedicated to it. If you are going to commit, it’s all or nothing.
PA: Why do you recommend volunteering to others?
TB: One day, I’m going to punch out of this place and all that’s going to be left is what I did when I was here. If you can truly help people — not just throw $10 in a cup — that is more exciting than anything.