What will you do with your mortgage education this year that will give you an edge over your competition? If you’re like most mortgage loan originators, your answer is likely, “Nothing.” I’d like suggest that this may not be the best answer! Keep reading and you’ll learn a simple way you can leverage your education to help you win new clients and new relationships.
We’re about to enter the last quarter of the year, which is continuing education (CE) season for most MLOs. You’ll have the opportunity to learn some fascinating topics like, the “Red Flag Rules” or the “Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act.” Not so fascinating? Okay, I admit I agree with you there. The sad truth is … with all due respect to the course producers, the topics aren’t so exciting. And more than that, unfortunately the way many of the courses are written make much of the information irrelevant to what you do on a daily basis as an MLO. But here’s another truth: You are putting in the time and expense of educating yourself, so why not make this fact known when meeting with a new client or a potential referral source?
Building your business is all about creating strong relationships: Strong relationships with both past/existing clients, and with potential new clients; strong relationships with existing and potential referral sources. Before transitioning to the educational side of the industry, I spent 15 years originating loans. I was a referral-based purchase originator from day one, and I always viewed referral relationships as clients. With the mindset that every referral partner is a client, you will continually be thinking of ways you can nurture and fortify that relationship. Thus, throughout the rest of this article, every reference to “client” includes referral relationships.
Communicating the fact that you continue to educate yourself about your profession and its products will engender trust in the mind of potential clients. In the current rate environment, consumers are taking the opportunity to seek out the services of mortgage professionals like yourself, but just because a consumer uses you for their mortgage transaction does not mean they will refer business to you. Your service can be viewed as a commodity in the eyes of the consumer, so it is your job to present information to your clients that conveys very clearly:
►That you have what they need;
►That they have good reason to feel confident about selecting you from all the other MLOs; and
►That they wouldn’t want their family, friends, or co-workers to use anybody but you for their mortgage transactions.
Tell your clients about the educational requirements that you must honor, perhaps even list a few of the specific courses you have taken. By doing so, you help to instill the confidence they need to feel committed to using you again, as well as to refer others to you.
Now let’s take a look at some specific situations in which you can take the opportunity to talk about your mortgage education with your clients.
Before taking the actual application from a mortgage client, it is a prudent practice to make an introductory presentation so s/he can get to know you and what you stand for. The time you spend with your client at application is a form of marketing, and too many MLOs just use the time to be an order-taker. That is, all they do is complete the application and collect documentation.
Don’t waste this opportunity to initiate a relationship that is based on knowledge, confidence and trust! Did you ever wonder why a real estate agent enjoys a stronger client bond than does an MLO? The most important reason this is so is due to the fact that an agent may spend about 17-20 face-to-face hours with a buyer. Every time they meet to view a home, the agent imparts knowledge to the buyer which strengthens the trust and confidence in the agent. As an MLO, you’ll only have about one hour for the application, and brief phone conversations throughout the process, followed by about an hour for the closing … assuming you actually attend your closings! This makes it all the more critical to capitalize on the time that you do have with your client at the time of application. Make the most of the application hour to leave a lasting impression. Finding a way to make them aware of your level of education is an important factor in achieving this.
Real estate agents
In the same way you present your educational background with clients, it’s important to do so with real estate agents you are meeting for the first time. Agents want to have trust in you just as mortgage clients do. If you want them to refer you client of theirs, they will want to do so with the utmost confidence that they are referring to a true professional.
Real estate brokers
If you like to be an information resource for real estate agents, then meeting with brokers or managers and showing them ways that you can help educate their agents is an excellent way to gain referral partners. Explain to the broker that you are constantly educating yourself, and that you can provide information that is important for agents to know. By providing short educational classes, you can help agents become more knowledgeable professionals. This offering is nearly always appreciated, as one of the biggest challenges for a real estate brokers and/or managers is providing quality education for their agents.
As the new housing sector continues to lift itself up, builders will have a greater need for MLOs that they can trust, and who understand the new construction process. At the height of the housing market, it seemed like every builder owned their own mortgage company! But now that it is more difficult to own a mortgage company, more and more builders will need the help of top MLOs. Builders are generally very loyal referral sources and once you are “in” they will refer you their clients without hesitation as long as you continue to earn their trust and do well by their buyers. Your level of education and focus on compliance within the educational topics will be something builders will want to hear when you make your presentation to them.
CPAs and attorneys
Of all the groups mentioned, this group is the most educated, and they like to refer to those in other professions that have acumen and knowledge. Both of these fields are the study and application of law, and the mortgage industry is the same in that you need to study the law relevant to your mortgage practice, and then apply it. When you meet with these professionals, it is paramount that you convey the message that you are an educated professional and that the clients they refer are in very good hands.
Over the next two days, sit down and review the presentation you currently give to your clients at application. Include a list of some of some of the courses you have taken, and how they keep you informed on the latest changes affecting your business—enabling you to provide a higher level of service to your clients. Next, practice your presentation so you feel comfortable speaking about the new topics and language you’ve added. Finally, begin using this enhanced presentation with your new clients (remember, this includes your referral sources!) Increasing your mortgage education may make you smarter, but now you have to leverage this education to help you win more clients.
Jeff Mifsud is founder of Michigan-based Mortgage Seminars LLC, a former FHA underwriter with 15-plus years of experience originating FHA loans, an FHA expert for LoanToolbox.com and creator of The FHA Originator, a monthly FHA newsletter. Jeff may be reached by phone at (248) 403-8181 or visit www.MortgageSeminars.com.