Let's face it - the last 18 months have been tough for loan officers. Interest rates have risen, home sales have fallen and cost-conscious consumers, fighting for lower rates, are turning to the Internet. All of this means many loan officers are making less money. And yet there are some loan officers whose businesses have flourished in these "bad" times. Your career as a loan officer is the sum total of the decisions and choices you make. Your choices result in habits or patterns of behavior. Some patterns of behavior result in success, others result in failure. The patterns are quite clear if you look for them. Let me share some patterns of behavior that are leading loan officers to success in this difficult market. I will also suggest several tasks to help you improve your productivity and income.
It can be depressing to read all of the negative news on the housing market, interest rates and mortgage applications, but only if you let it be. Top loan officers see the weaker housing market as an opportunity to grow market share as competition declines. In addition, some loan officers let the events drive their behavior. But top loan officers let their behavior drive their attitudes. So instead of sitting around and complaining about the weak market, they are visiting their real estate agents, Certified Public Accountants, attorneys and other referral sources - and getting results. Remember, if you believe you can or believe you cannot, you are right!
Task: Start seeing the glass as half full.
Unfortunately, the mortgage business is very transient. In good markets, people join, only to leave when the going gets tough. The loan officers who maintain and grow their businesses in difficult times are committed to the mortgage business and focus on the activities that have helped them in the past. In addition, top producers commit to building their knowledge base by learning about new products, services and ways of helping their clients.
Task: Take the time to create a business plan for your long-term success in the mortgage industry, and identify and learn the areas where your knowledge is deficient.
Relationships are the lifeblood of the mortgage business. Top loan officers cultivate and strengthen their relationships in all markets, especially difficult ones. This relationship focus allows them to quickly springboard to another income level when the market expands. A weak housing market means referral sources and clients become more critical. By maintaining contact and strong relations with clients and referral sources, top performers do more business. After all, you never know when another purchase, refi or referral can be in the offing.
Task: Establish a system for staying in touch with both referral sources and past clients.
In a down market, most loan officers market less at the precise time that they should market more aggressively. This is because the results of their efforts are less than they are accustomed to and they tire of hearing that the market is slow and devoid of deals. In contrast, top loan officers seize the opportunity to grow their businesses. There has never been a better time for a loan officer to build his business.
Task: Identify 10 potentially rewarding referral sources and create a plan for building a relationship with them.
I am always amazed at the difference in work habits between producers and pretenders. Nothing in life is gained without hard work. In tough markets like today's, you need to work a little harder.
Task: Create a schedule that lays out your regular activities and stick to it.
Success is simple. Look at what top producers do and how they behave, and imitate them. I hope this gets you off to a good start.
Mark Schnurman is the director of business development for New York-based GFI Mortgage Bankers. His writing draws upon his experience recruiting, training, managing and coaching thousands of salespeople. He may be contacted at (212) 837-4645 or e-mail [email protected].