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Foolish Things Loan Officers Do

Brian Sacks
May 20, 2019
Photo credit: Getty Images/scyther5

Every year on April 1, I have had the ritual of sitting down and reviewing my business specifically to see what opportunities I might be missing. I think it’s foolish not to have a goal and plan, but more importantly, you need to have the strategies in place to achieve them.
Even the best plans sometimes run into bumps in the road that we need to pay attention to. Unfortunately, most Originators and salespeople in general just move on to try other things when they hit a bump, while some even give up totally and throw in the towel. What I have found in my own business, and from training and coaching thousands of Originators, is that success is generally found right around the corner.
In fact, I gave all of my Top Originator Mastermind Members a copy of a classic book called Acres of Diamonds that is long out of print. The book is about a farmer who gave up way too soon. If he had only dug one inch deeper and hung in there, he would have discovered that his farm had acres of diamonds. It’s worth reading if you can get a copy, especially if you are a manager. It’s a lesson worth keeping in mind because we are all human and no one likes to struggle.
I want to point out to you some areas of your business that it’s foolish not to pay attention to. I would prefer to quote the motto I heard from Winston Churchill which is: “Never give up … never, never.” Those are much better words to live by if you want to be a successful Originator. We will all face setbacks and failures and how you handle them will determine your success.
Take agent business for granted
We are all in a very competitive business and at a very competitive in the business. You should never ever take an agent’s business for granted. You should treat each relationship as if it could be lost at any time, since it can be. Make sure you are always staying in touch with your agents and providing value. Call them just to see how they are doing. Send them notes letting them know you appreciate them and their referrals.
Don’t forget to ask for referrals
A person who is referred to you is 90 percent more likely to use you than someone who has just found you online or from some other marketing method. You need to be constantly asking both your buyers and your agents for referrals. Try asking when you first meet, and again during the application process, and once again at closing. But wait … you are not done just yet. You need to be asking for referrals after settlements, which is the time most originators rarely ask.
Assume that buyers with issues should be avoided
I have truly built my business being the expert in a niche. Buyers who have issues are rarely rate-sensitive. But they do become your biggest referral source and cheerleader after you help them.
There are buyers with income, asset and credit challenges, and each of these areas now have specific programs and investors that deal with each of these specific issues. Not every loan can or will be a slam dunk. Make sure you become the expert in a specific niche and let everyone in your market know about your area of expertise.
Only use social media for marketing
Using any one method exclusively for your marketing is an ENORMOUS mistake which you have probably seen me speak about. The rules set by Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other sites are constantly changing. What is working today could be prohibited tomorrow or simply stop working altogether. Think of all the people who lost their income when Google changed their algorithms three times in one year.
Instead, you would be much better off using various types of marketing methods and media. For example, I use television, radio, print and online tactics. But I also use direct mail extensively, as well as in-person seminars and online Webinars.
Using multiple media will make all of your marketing efforts much more effective, but it will also protect you from any major changes.
Not following up with pre-quals
This is something I have truly never understood in my 35 years in the business. We all work so hard to get a client to call us or get referred to us. The buyers contact us and we get their information. Then, we get them pre-approved and then explain various programs and answer their questions. We then wait for them to contact us and wonder why we aren’t closing as many deals as we would like. Or we wonder why they went to a different lender.
I have an entire system for dealing with pre-quals after I speak or meet with them. They are put into a database. They are sent a letter thanking them for meeting. They are sent a monthly newsletter. They are also called each and every month to check their status and see if they have any questions they want answered.
Thinking good rates and good service will get you business
I saved the best one for last, but trust me that there are many additional mistakes we all make that are not listed here.
I constantly hear Originators moaning about their rates or the service they get from their support teams. If I am being totally honest, I do as well, but rarely.
The truth is that good rates and service are just basic in this day and age. If you aren’t able to provide competitive rates and provide good service, you are simply in the wrong business.
Stop and think about all the reasons someone should use you without saying it’s about rates and service. There are so many other ways you are able to provide value to your partners and clients.
There are two big issues with thinking that service and rates will generate new business for you. For service, the buyers, only see the service AFTER the transaction closes. In terms of the rates, there will ALWAYS be someone cheaper than you in the market, so you MUST find other ways to show your value.
Now, I want you to take out a sheet of paper or pull up a new Google or Word Doc and start thinking about these mistakes. How many of them are you foolishly committing? How will you correct them?

Brian Sacks is a branch manager with Homebridge Financial in Owings Mills, Md.Brian Sacks is a branch manager with Homebridge Financial in Owings Mills, Md. He has been originating for 35 years, with career closings of $1.5 billion-plus and 5,833 transactions. Brian is also the creator of the Top Originator Secrets Blog and has recently published an originator success manual on the 48 Proven Ways to Immediately Grow Your Production. You can learn more at

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

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