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It's easy to make a list of the activities, foods or beverages that we've been warned to not overindulge in, because there can be “Too much of a good thing.” But can the same be applicable to productivity … or can it? Just about every mortgage loan officer has fallen into the Catch 22 of working hard to generate new business, followed by getting caught up on servicing that business, and thus, allowing the balance of activities to be disrupted, making it necessary to start practically from scratch to refill their pipeline after a flurry of closings—the old “see-saw” effect between prospecting and closing. The 2016 housing market is showing signs that many loan officers will find themselves in this exact predicament well past the typically busy summer season.
Recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Zillow add up to a perfect storm of low supply and high demand, with a dash of urgency due to uncertainty surrounding the future of interest rates. The following year-over-year data from the late spring sets the stage for activity that may last well into the fall:
►Existing home sales are up six percent
►Median existing home price increased 6.3 percent
NAR Existing Home Sales Report, April 2016
►Housing inventory is down 3.4 percent overall and eight percent in entry-level price ranges
Zillow Real Estate Market Reports, April 2016
NAR also reported in April that pending home sales reached their highest level since February 2006. Zillow's Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell believes the market will be brisk outside of traditional timeframes, saying, "This summer's selling season's borders will most likely be blurred as many buyers are left without homes and will need to keep searching."
This information is making its way into the mainstream media as well, motivating potential buyers to browse online and piquing homeowner curiosity about activity in their own neighborhoods. More consumers will be surfing, searching, clicking and hopefully calling—leads will likely be flying in.
While heated consumer interest in the housing market is a great problem to have, mortgage loan officers and their companies need to evaluate their marketing, workflow, time management and other systems to get in the best position to handle increased activity without having other aspects of their performance and business suffer. When it comes to leads currently, how do you …
►Keep track of them?
If there's room for improvement in how you manage your leads now, the gap will widen with increased activity. An overwhelming influx of leads without proper management sends production and money seeping right through the cracks. It's always a triumph to move a lead from inquiry to close. But to succeed, or even keep up in the industry requires superior organization and consistency. Whether you're buying leads, generating them through your sphere of influence, database of past clients or Web sites, a customer relationship management system is an absolute must. You must have a CRM and it must serve your needs. To keep up with a fast-paced market, you need to be able to easily:
►Manage your daily schedules, tasks, events and sales activities
►Organize and prioritize your leads and contacts
►Automate and archive your marketing
►Make it easy to track and follow-up with leads, prospects and clients
►Track your conversion rates
►Uphold your brand
►Integrate with your LOS
Do you have systems to manage all these critical business elements? Are they in one place–or all over the place? Is your workflow manageable? It's a good idea to ponder these questions and consider solutions to maximize your readiness for what is shaping up to be an opportune time to develop and expand your business. Converting leads is a gratifying thrill ride, but the rules surrounding consumer contacts, disclosure and archiving can be a buzzkill (along with the risk of audits and fines). The good news is, technology can help by marrying organization, marketing, compliance elements and your LOS system and it can help you sustain momentum and minimize compliance risk when things get busy.
So with positive market activity and indicators spelling the probability of a "lead storm" on the forecast, smart lenders will ensure that their MLOs have the right tools to manage, convert, comply and sustain production. And most importantly, keep prospecting and transacting activities–and pipelines–in balance.
Sue Woodard is president and chief executive officer of Vantage Production, a provider of technology and services supporting the sales and marketing of mortgage products, as well as the professional development of mortgage loan officers. She can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the July 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.