The topic regarding lender/real estate agent gridlock that I hear from mortgage colleagues across the nation has been lingering on for years and I cannot help but write about it this month. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but worth discussing. In prior years and primarily during the housing boom, I feel that the mortgage industry painted a bad picture regarding who we are and what it is we do. During that time, there were unqualified, and at times, unethical people, in the industry which most are aware of from the sub-prime meltdown, etc. Unfortunately these individuals commoditized the mortgage process in the eyes of others and shielded them from realizing the significance and importance of our role during the home purchase and sale process. Times have changed and it is important that we all adapt and work together for the sake of our clients as housing professionals. Real estate agents provide a great service to consumers when buying or selling a home. There has never been a more important time to have a quality real estate professional supporting the goals of the consumer, especially after the changes in the housing and mortgage markets. With so many changes in the mortgage climate over the last few years, the primary concern we tend to hear is how many real estate agents are actually informed and have adapted? The mortgage process is the most important and most misunderstood process of the transaction. Financing is vital for both the buyer and seller when dealing with a non-cash purchase or sale. How the real estate community has adjusted will determine the expectations they set with their clients, resulting in a positive or negative outcome to consumers. To improve the future of our new industry, lenders and real estate professionals must successfully work together. They must be able to do so without special interests and with the ability to adapt to any situation or personality for a successful closing. Adaptation allows everyone to avoid delays and better prepare for “blanket” requirements on agency-backed loans which all carry similar underwriting criteria. This is a fast-paced and high demand industry, but we can improve the experience our clients have and find more enjoyment in working together through communication and education. Both sides need to be accountable, but the following traits are what seem to be common in superstar mortgage originators and real estate professionals in today’s housing market. Superstar habits ►They have mentally adapted to accepting the changes we all face in the mortgage process. ►They tend to have more volume or more recent transactions that allow them to adapt to these changes more quickly, or they have self-education in place of recent activity to help adapt. ►They conduct themselves professionally, putting their client’s interests before their own. ►They set realistic and accurate expectations for their clients. ►They set and only accept/suggest realistic closing dates on purchase agreements to match current averages and regulations facing the residential mortgage climate. ►They are only influenced by accurate data and strive for information and continued education. ►They understand that the financing process is the most important part of any non-cash transaction for both the buyers and sellers for a successful closing. ►They know and communicate the benefits of homeownership, but also realize that a home is a liability and not an asset on a balance sheet. ►They understand the basics of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs): Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, in addition to Ginnie Mae, and that lender’s are controlled by these guidelines. ►They are not “sold” into thinking one thing over another and do their research and use their experiences to uncover the facts. ►They never sacrifice quality for revenue or alter focus with commission as priority. ►Communication is timely and relevant to the process and not unrealistic when asking for updates or expecting something “should” be completed without following procedures. ►As much as everyone works to avoid, extensions on closings are common nationally due to the current state of the market. Get the facts to avoid assumptions and communicate accurate information with clients to avoid confusion or frustration. ►They (and the company they work with) respect and do not violate Section 8 of RESPA. ►They tend to be confident, not arrogant. Egos do not affect others. ►In favor to their clients, they avoid steering and allow their clients to make informed decisions by understanding and comparing different options when referring others products or services. ►They hold themselves accountable for their actions when necessary and hold others accountable when necessary, without finger-pointing. ►They are strong and passionate, but easy to work with productively and understanding of the details. ►They are not happy with their performance unless their client is happy. ►They never forget that their employer is the consumer. The year 2013 is fresh and we need to change our habits immediately if not already. Don’t settle for average and work toward perfection. Be passionate and work together with your local agents, but know that your clients are the most important party in the transaction. No one should be a push-over on either side or allow hopes of referrals to blind them away from their duties. Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and 2010-2011 president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 496-0431 or e-mail aha[email protected] or visit AndyHarrisMortgage.com.