Create Your Own Strategy for Strong Realtor Relationships: Benefitting From Well-Planned PartnershipsDaryl WizelmanRealtor, Relationships, Strategic Partnerships, United Pacific Mortgage, Daryl Wizelman
With the largest percentage of mortgage lending referrals still
coming from real estate agents, it is more important than ever for
loan originators to establish and maintain strong, ongoing
relationships. It is imperative that each agent is viewed as a
partner, especially if you are an originator who plans to tap into
this market as a referral source for loans. Now is the time to step
back and assess how you conduct your relationships. I strongly
believe that, in building any kind of relationship, there first has
to be a foundation of trust. This should comprise the philosophy of
any company. Therefore, when approaching a real estate agent
relationship, the experience will be more worthwhile if you view it
as a mutually-beneficial partnership, rather than a simple sales
To work successfully with real estate agents, you need to create
your own strategy for establishing and maintaining your
relationships. Instead of contacting agents en masse and hoping
someone will call you with a referral, create a definite plan. Whom
will you contact? What can you contribute? What do you hope to
Establishing a Productive Relationship
Show your real estate agent that you care about your relationship.
Keep apprised of what they value and what is important to them.
Stick to the following guidelines, and your prospects will get the
message that you are different and worth doing business with:
1. Under-promise and over-deliver. Too many mortgage originators
break this rule, and too many real estate agents have experienced
their broken promises. By exceeding expectations, you'll stay well
ahead of your competitors.
2. Keep your sales calls and visits short and sweet.
3. Return phone calls as quickly as possible. It will show just how
much you really value the relationship.
4. Be a resource. For example, my company, United Pacific
Mortgage, offers marketing support, such as full-color flyers
or brochures showcasing properties, finance sheets, postcards and
open-house presentation materials.
5. Return the favor. Offer reverse referrals of qualified or
pre-approved home buyers.
Developing real estate relationships is definitely a proactive
endeavor. You cannot plant the seeds and simply wait for them to
grow. However, I have found that when you follow these
recommendations and cultivate each partnership, your loan referrals
will flourish. Here are specific ways to plan before you even speak
with an agent:
1. Choose your partner(s) wisely. How many real estate agents
should you have in your client base? It depends upon your
production goals and their performance level. One rough guideline
is to plan on approximately one-half to one referral, per agent,
per month. For example, if you want three or four referrals per
month, you may want to partner with at least six to eight real
estate agents. However, don't try to work with too many agents.
This could result in shallow, unproductive relationships. Choose
only those whom you feel will be especially worthwhile to partner
with, and concentrate on maintaining close ties with them.
2. Know your prospect. Before you arrange a visit, learn as much as
you can about each prospect. What is their highest core value? If
they focus on one particular market, learn more about it. You'll
make a better first impression, which often seals or kills the deal
in sales situations, if you've made an effort to know your agent
beforehand. If you truly care about creating a relationship, this
is how you will gain trust and begin building a quality
3. Prepare for each visit. Before you meet with a prospect, plan
your visit in detail. Based upon your reasons for pursuing the
relationship in question, ask yourself:
a. What can I offer that other lenders cannot?
b. What can I contribute to this relationship?
c. What is the real estate agent bringing to the table?
Be sure to include this information in your presentation
materials. Prepare a list of questions to ask about the agent's
business, needs and goals, along with friendly, personal questions
about their family and hobbies. By keeping all lines of
communication paved and open, you will continue to pile trust on
top of your foundation.
4. Sell yourself. As part of every new relationship, introduce
yourself with a brief but compelling description-who you are and
what you represent. It is important to set yourself apart from
other lenders and establish your credibility, while providing a
brief overview of your company, products, services and pricing.
Make your profile interesting, and resist the temptation to simply
deliver a stack of numbers. Otherwise, your words will go in one
ear and out the other.
Conducting Successful Realtor Meetings
Two important goals to set before any meeting are: (1) make the
meeting productive; and (2) build your image as a reliable lending
source. Here are some tips for ensuring productive meetings that
will, in turn, help build strong relationships:
1. Listen! While you may want to set the stage with a brief
introduction, ask the real estate agent as many relevant questions
as time allows. You will make a far better impression and learn
much more about their needs by asking relevant, open-ended
questions, rather than spending most of the time talking
2. Leave behind literature. Even if it's as simple as a folder
with a few sheets of key information, have your capabilities, major
benefits and rate sheets ready to present in a simple, hard-copy
format that the agent can easily refer to.
3. Create a concrete service plan. In the mortgage industry,
everyone promises outstanding service, but most originators deliver
mediocrity, at best. Write down and explain, in concrete terms, the
type of services you promise to provide, from returning phone calls
with same-day service, to providing referrals from pre-approved
home buyers. Then deliver on those promises consistently!
4. Be specific. Make sure you explain exactly what you would like
to establish in the relationship, rather than a vague request of
"earning your business." Let the real estate agent know that you
are seeking both quality loan referrals and a partnership, based on
integrity and mutual respect.
Maintaining Successful Relationships
After establishing rapport, you must remain actively involved, or
you will risk losing the relationship and referrals you may have
gained. You simply need to plan ahead, stay in contact and track
A post-meeting thank-you letter may be an obvious way to stay in
touch, but it's critical to stay on top of correspondence. To keep
the relationship lively, vary the types of contact you have with
the agent, adding value whenever possible. Some potential ideas
1. Arrange weekly visits to exchange useful ideas;
2. Set up quarterly lunch or dinner meetings;
3. Suggest an after-work social hour to talk on a more informal
4. Send birthday, anniversary and holiday cards;
5. Send helpful bulletins, newsletters or news clips via e-mail and
6. Periodically call, e-mail or send a personal note just to
express your appreciation and say thanks;
7. Attend your closings together;
8. Attend or sponsor real estate events; and/or
9. Follow-up with thank you cards in addition to verbal thanks.
Take a more strategic approach to nurturing your real estate
agent relationships, and with a healthy dose of integrity, you will
soon see a definitive return on your investment, in terms of repeat
and referral business.
Daryl Wizelman is president of United Pacific
Mortgage. He may be reached by phone at (800) 400-7166, ext.
226, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.