I took my son to a championship high school baseball game a few weeks ago, as the coach, Matt, was a friend of mine. Actually, he was the son of a real estate agent I have worked with for years, and consequently, I helped Matt and Patti buy their homes. I have also had the honor of watching his career blossom as a high school baseball coach. From making mediocre teams good, to turning good teams into championship teams, I couldn’t help but be impressed with his leadership as a teacher of young men.
Matt has spent his career refusing to be idle, preferring instead to constantly strive towards greatness with the boys he coaches. In an effort to do so, he has had to change his lineup, change his game plan, and roll with challenges that have arisen, such as in injured players, yet he never seemed comfortable merely surviving as a coach. He has always been determined to succeed. The parallel to the career of a mortgage professional was immediately clear to me.
With massive changes to the industry in late June, there is no better time to discuss the fact that no matter how good we feel we are doing; we are not immune from an unexpected curveball. In this case, I’m talking about the interest rate rising. It’s obvious that the need to change up our game plan to focus on purchase transactions as refinance business slows down is vital to our continuing success.
No curveball should keep you from striving to improve, even in a rate-changing environment. To illustrate, consider yourself the coach of your team. As the leader of your team, are you reaching out to your real estate partners, reviewing your strategic partnerships and looking for ways to help them improve their business? I have found that seasoned mortgage professionals tend to communicate regularly and very effectively to help clients buy and refinance their homes to reach their financial goals. Consider reaching out to your real estate agent partners and offer to help them with co-marketing or co-branding efforts using your database to generate more business. Or, show them how to effectively market to their databases to drive their referrals. That is, help them to become better at reaching out to others. This will elevate you from being a good loan officer to being a great strategic partner.
On the other hand, if you are the coach of a team who relies heavily on refinances, you are going to have to change your lineup significantly. It is time to re-tool your efforts to capture more purchase business. Even if you’re a mortgage professional who rarely works with real estate agents, you are likely going to find that this needs to change. In short, you need a new game plan.
That does not mean that you have to immediately bombard every real estate office in a 50-mile radius with your fliers. Instead, start by going deep with your existing clients, CPA partners and financial advisor partners. At least 20 percent of them know someone who is looking to buy a home. When you’ve gotten leads and prequalified them, select five real estate agents in your markets and contact them. Offer to send your purchasing clients their way, as long as they agree not to actively send them to another mortgage professional for their loan.
There is nothing wrong with saying something to the effect of: “If I send you these buyers, will you be loyal to me, and not refer them to someone else unless they ask for additional referrals?” Most real estate agents will be happy to honor that request. Naturally, it will be up to you to provide spectacular service, thereby ensuring that they will refer you others as well.
Determining whether you want to merely survive or succeed, no matter what the market brings will mandate that you take some time to re-tool your game plan. If you’re doing great, look to help your real estate agent partners and become a true champion in their eyes. If you’re not doing as well as you could be, switch up some of your efforts, try out a new strategy and practice, practice, practice. The only way any of us become winners is through nurturing our talents, and a sheer dedication to strengthening our skills.
Fred Arnold, CMC is past president of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals , current Treasurer of NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals, and a mortgage professional at American Family Funding, a division of American Pacific Mortgage. Fred hosts the radio show SCV Chamber and Business Spotlight on AM 1220 KHTS, as well as the televised program “Out of the Rough” on SCVTV.com, channel 20. He may be reached by phone at (661) 284-1150, ext. 109 or e-mail [email protected]