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California industry appointments update - 06/28/2006

National Mortgage Professional
Jun 27, 2006

Correctly marketing to real estate agentsJoe CornoReal estate agents,mortgage brokers Real estate agents are popular targets when marketing for purchase business. Everyone wants to be part of their transactions, including home inspectors, appraisers, title companies, construction workers, insurance agents, carpet cleaners and many more. As loan originators, our goal is to have real estate agents to team up with us, and we develop skills and tools that benefit and assist them. We can help them print flyers, hold training seminars and advertise. These are good ideas, but have you actually asked a real estate agent what he wants from an originator? In the real world, real estate agents want service for their clients and support for their net bottom lines. They want an aggressive facilitator to have a positive impact on their profits and their client's needs. Real estate agents want an originator to exceed expectations. Instead of leaving cute gizmos and promotional assistance, we must find new ways to show them that we out-serve any and all competition. We need to prove that they need us because of the exceptional service we provide. In order to get a real estate agent's attention, you need to create a strategic plan to get a loan from him. For example, you could bring him a lead or referral that you have. A good way of marketing for a real estate agent's business leads and referrals is to bring him some business—bring him value that will benefit him. You can obtain leads through the atypical marketing process (see "Market atypically for extraordinary results," The Mortgage Press, December 2005). This system generates leads that the real estate agent is prohibited from performing himself because of real estate laws and regulations. In most states, however, real estate laws do not pertain to originators; thus, you have value to offer the agents. There is a better way to market to agents for business than going in with trinkets. It works when you have a buyer and agents who are part of the transaction, or, if you're part of the transaction. In either scenario, it is not necessary to call, visit or meet the agent. In fact, you want to be at his office when he is not there. Do not waste his time by marketing to him personally. Leave items on his desk and chair when he is away. Show him with service that you are the best originator that he can find. The following is a schedule for leaving useful items for real estate agents that will produce more results than you can get from just leaving gizmos and rate sheets: Day 1: Deliver an introductory letter. Let the agent know of your logistics, duties, what you expect of him and by when. Reference the property address for listing agents and the borrower's name for sales agents. Inform him that he will be the contact with their clients, and it is not your role to replace him in this task. Read the real estate purchase agreement early on to be ahead of any deadlines referenced. This first delivery to the transaction will get immediate attention. If the agent calls and wants to meet, by all means do so. It is the agent requesting the meeting and deciding on using his time to do so. He is initiating the contact, and you should welcome the invitation. Day 3: Provide a document that you can present that legally cites the borrower's credit worthiness. I am not referring to a pre-qualifying letter. Provide the actual credit history of the borrower to the real estate agent. The credit history can be given out and does not represent a credit report. Most credit bureaus now have a borrower copy, which is legal for the originator to distribute. It lets the real estate agent know if the buyer's credit is acceptable. Of course, it is necessary to secure authorization from the borrower to release their data to a third party. Modify your origination authorization form to authorize releasing such data to third parties involved in the transaction. The real estate agent will then have more than just your word on the borrower's creditworthiness. He will have an actual document, and you will have satisfied his concerns on the matter. Day 9: Deliver a copy of the appraisal to the real estate agents. Remember to always deliver all items when the agent is away from his office. While hand delivering the various items, you can observe the lifestyle and interests of each individual agent. What he has in his office will let you know about his family, hobbies and other interests. With the appraisal in hand, the real estate agent knows whether the property qualifies or not. Be sure to review the appraisal prior to delivering it, attaching any corrections and comments. The real estate agent has never experienced such service from any past originators, and you are now becoming known to him for exceptional service. He will tell the story about the faceless originator in his weekly office meetings. Your name is getting spread around as a trustworthy and dependable person. The other agents are thinking, "My originator has never given me a credit record or appraisal," and you are creating a reputation for superior service. Days 15-20: Hand deliver a thank you letter Hand deliver a thank you letter, expressing in words how professional the real estate agent was and that you enjoyed working with him. Attach a token, a gift of something that the real estate agent likes. You know what this is because it is the fourth time that you have been in his office while he has been away. Inform him that the loan documents for the buyer/seller are in title, at escrow or delivered to the attorney. The documents are ready for him to contact his respective clients and to schedule a time for them to sign. You have just out-served anyone that the real estate agent has ever encountered. The real estate agent will want to do future business with you. He will call and request a meeting. Service is a major marketing tool. Knowing how to correctly market to real estate agents will make your phone ring. Once this relationship is established, you can mail or courier the items to the real estate agents. However, I highly recommend that you deliver the token and thank you letter personally and when he is in the office. Pitfalls to avoid Here are three mistakes that are common in our industry that you need to be aware of and avoid: 1. Do not take the glory away from the agents. Let agents inform their respective clients of credit approval, appraised value, loan documents, etc. As the originator, you are not the buyer's agent, so why are you performing the agent's role? 2. Do not use automated underwriting approvals as approval notices. Automated underwriting systems are preliminary status notices and are based on data entered and nothing more. You need supporting documentation to make the preliminary entry become a real approval. Otherwise, you will not be able to respond to the agent's question, "Now that we have approval, when will the loan documents be delivered?" 3. Do not waste the real estate agent's time. By delivering items required in any sales transaction, you can observe other real estate agents in the office. The delivery of items reduces the need for the agent to call and inquire on how the loan is progressing. You have been communicating with him from day one. Joe Corno is president of Utah-based We Be Consulting and Seminars. He can be reached at (801) 836-2077 or e-mail at [email protected]
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