Offer niche products for buyers with specialized needs
Don't just tell your buyers you have lots of loan products. Instead, provide various solutions and tools to fit special niche buyers, such as foreign nationals, co-op or condo buyers. You can offer free pre-approvals. A newer idea is to offer a free smartphone mortgage calculator app to your business partners that they can share with their clients, so that they can play around with different downpayment amounts and various rates.
Host product-specific real estate classes
Offer to train new agents on various loan products. Approach a real estate owner/broker and tell them that you understand their time is limited, and you can assist them with getting new agents up to speed by providing in-house training for various loan programs, helping them to spread the net wider to bring in more potential qualified buyers. You can then bring in breakfast and hold training sessions in their offices. If you can help an agent sell one more property because of a new program you explained to them, you will have achieved a relationship status few LOs ever attain.
Host classes for your local agent association
On a larger scale, consider teaching ongoing classes for your local real estate agent association. You may be able to partner with a local title company or attorney who is already teaching real estate continuing education classes, or you can work with your local real estate association to hire a state-certified trainer.
One Phoenix branch did this on a regular basis. They found that free seminars were under-attended, so they began to charge $20-$100 per course and every seat was filled. They sent invitations to all real estate agents using the nationwide company, www.zipyourflyer.com, which will blast e-mail a flyer to every real estate agent in the area at a cost of approximately $50 for 5,000-7,500 agents.
Consider using this service to e-mail your best offer three or four times until you're built up your own database. With these first four e-mail invites, give local agents a compelling reason to visit your Web site and have them fill out a form on your landing page. Now you've captured their e-mail addresses and can begin to build your own list for regular agent-specific e-mails.
Use social media to connect with more agents
On both Facebook and LinkedIn, it's quite possible that you'll find a group of real estate agents in your local area. Join that group and begin contributing to conversations and asking such questions as, "What are your options when your buyer only has funds for three percent down" or "Hybrid ARMs are making a comeback … what does this mean for your buyers on the fence?" But be careful to NOT be too sales-like or pushy. You want to establish yourself as someone who knows a lot about various mortgage options—not establish a reputation as a pushy LO.
You may also want to check out the option of buying Facebook or LinkedIn ads for your target group of real estate agents. You can spend about $100 per month to have your ad viewed multiple times by these agents.
Here are a few more ideas for value-added service:
►Maintain an up-to-date database of all of your company’s real estate agent-partners, title reps, attorneys and other strategic business partners and make contact with each one at least once a month.
►If you send a monthly e-newsletter to real estate brokers, keep it very short and make sure you focus on “what’s in it for them,” such as your ability to close a loan with 10 days.
►Create a Priority Service flyer for agents to give buyers that says, “Since you’re working with XYZ Real Estate Agent, you’ll receive priority service and a free appraisal with your loan from ABC Mortgage.”
►Coach your loan officers to fill every visit to a real estate agent with solutions for the agent and their buyers. Don’t make presentations a commercial about the loan officer. The goal is to show agents how you can help them sell more properties.
►Be on the lookout for new offices or agents, and send them a handwritten note congratulating them. Follow up with another mailing providing sample flyers that you can co-brand and provide to them.
►Offer to provide real estate sign riders for your agents that give a 24/7 recorded description of the property, but also captures the prospect's phone number so that both you and the agent can follow up with them.
►If you're a blogger or a pretty good writer, offer to write a few mortgage-related articles for the real estate agent’s Web site, answering basic questions like: "What size loan will I qualify for?" and "What if I don't have a big downpayment?" and "What loan options are available to me?" Of course, be sure to add your contact info at the end of every article, with a "call to action," such as "Find out how low your downpayment can be with this loan" or "Get prequalified today to begin your house hunt."
►Offer to split ad costs with agents using co-branded marketing collateral. Provide them with co-branded templates for "new listing" flyers, open house flyers and "just sold" postcards.
Jean LeBlanc is director of marketing for Guaranteed Home Mortgage Company. For more marketing tips, download the eBook, 13 Ways to Juice Up Your Marketing in 2013, by going to joinghmc.com and clicking on the eBook offer midway down the page. She may be reached by phone at (914) 696-3400.