With interest rates getting higher, the competition for real estate agent referrals continues to grow. I’m currently coaching a group of mortgage bankers transitioning from working non exclusive refinance leads into the purchase market and they are realizing that just being able to close a loan in 2 weeks isn’t necessarily enough to entice agents to give them a chance at a long term relationship. It’s not that they aren’t amazing at what they do, they just don’t yet know how to sell how amazing they are.As a mortgage lender, you hold a giant key to the lives of many. Anytime you are working a referral from an agent, you are holding that agents commission, the buyers home and the sellers home for ransom. You can make or break a deal just by being timely in your execution of the various lending practices needed to close the deal, or not. To release your ransom, you require documents and statements at the request of underwriting that without those things, a deal isn’t possible. The fact is, an agent doesn’t want to send a referral to a lender that they feel would put them in a bad situation. By bad, I mean, they want to feel safe on all fronts, not only with you getting the deal closed, but closed on time while communicating professionally and intelligently with them and their clients. That agent is putting you in the drivers seat of their overall transaction and an agent wants to know that all parties are in great hands from start to finish. This comes from establishing trust and friendship.
Agents want truth over hope. In other words, if an agent sends you a referral and you don’t think you can get it done, stop right there and tell them. Don’t tell them you think there is a chance and push forward, even if there is a slight chance. Why? Because while you are trying like hell to get this deal done that likely shouldn’t be closed to begin with, that agent is driving the buyer all over the place expending gas, time and money on the hope you instilled in them that they have a deal that will close. If a week before the purchase contract date you come to the agent and blame everyone and their uncle for the deal not being able to close, that agent only knows they just wasted all of that time, money and energy on your word, not the word of everyone you are trying to blame. Not to mention the tension placed on the agents relationship with their client and the now slim chance that buyer would refer anyone to that agent who now seems not in control of their relationships. It’s better to be up front and save yourself and the agent time wasted and damaged reputations. You want to be the loan officer your referral partners can count on no-matter what and know that what you say, they can be confident that it is so.
Help Them Get Business and They Will Send You More
There are nearly countless agents in any given market and in the same way you are competing with other loan officers for a realtors referrals, realtors are always trying to keep busy themselves. I know some Big Box Banks that are notorious for horrid service, never returning calls, closing loans late at every turn but they are able to keep agents using them because they are fueled by the customers they have in house, already in tow with checking and savings accounts and no real direction. These banks refer these customers to agents to get more referrals themselves. It’s hard for an agent to turn business away like this even when they know every deal has the potential for nightmarish results in the end.
This isn’t to say that you can’t do the same thing, just differently AND with top tier service ta-boot. Many agents hate the way real estate websites like Zillow operate, yet they continue pumping cash into their system because its generates leads. Having a single zip code is rarely enough to generate anything significant, however, if an agent had a Loan Officer or two splitting 80% of the cost of those zip codes, now, the agent is paying a tiny fraction of the overall account and they are generating more business which they can refer to you. You aren’t really sharing in the marketing expenses of Zillow just for those leads though, you’re doing this to show the agent that you want to be an active part of their team and in hopes that agent refers deals to you that didn’t come from Zillow, Realtor.com or other such sites.
As a business development consultant that works with both real estate agents and mortgage lenders on everything from web design, SEO, online marketing, sales and sales coaching, I understand and appreciate the pains of both sides of the fence. For Loan Officers that can’t afford to hire me directly as a consultant I offer a popular online video course that teaches them how I helped build a new branch office from 0 to up to 60 closed units a month from agent referrals.
Remember to always be more valuable than the other 5 loan officers calling your agents trying to drum up business and you’ll have a referral partner for life.
If you are in need of my services directly, you can find me at Upstager Consulting, Inc.