Even the most successful loan officers find themselves in a rut sometimes. They’re established in the industry, have several years of successful loan origination in their past and stay on top of the latest technologies and sales techniques. Still, doing the same thing over and over again can get a little stale. Instead of trying new things or new ways to garner business from established resources, loan officers can get into such a routine their creativity can falter and when that happens sooner or later their pipeline isn’t as robust as it used to be. Sure, there are always the standard referral sources successful loan officers have but they can always shake things up a little bit making just a few changes to their typical routine. Here are seven ways to boost your mortgage referral business.
1. Your Agents
This group shouldn’t be any surprise as a referral source. After all, when someone wants to buy or sell a home one of the first places they turn is to their real estate agent. But are you leveraging this resource to its fullest or have you decided that farming real estate agents is too competitive? Maybe there are just too many other loan officers making sales calls to the very same real estate offices you are. We agree, there’s certainly no shortage of competition at any real estate office and many of them have partnered with other mortgage companies as well. But there is no doubt that a real estate office is rich with leads.
To bolster an existing relationship with a real estate agent or to foster a new one, consider subscribing to an application that sends you new listings as they’re entered into the local multiple listing service. Introduce yourself to the listing agent and send via email a flyer they can use at their open house that provides potential buyers and sellers monthly payment information based upon the list price, estimated loan amount and prevailing interest rates.
And when an open house is announced, contact the agent and offer to prepare some flyers they can use at their open house. When buyers arrive, they’ll pick up your flyers that have all your contact information including your email, phone and website. Oh, and don’t forget your picture on the flyer either. People like to put a face to a name.
Offer to attend an open house and let the agent know you can provide valuable, up to date information about mortgage rates and loan programs to those that make a visit. When visiting with prospective buyers at the open house, not only are you providing information buyers can use but it’s an opportunity to extend your brand to those you may never have met.
One of the best ways to start getting referrals from an agent you want to do business with? Be the first to provide a lead. When someone from your database calls and wants loan information because they’re just starting out to buy a home, ask if they’d like the name of a real estate agent or two experienced in the area they want to live.
2. Write a Book
You know the mortgage business in and out so why don’t you sit down and write a book about it? That might seem a little intimidating at first but it’s really nothing more than different sections about the mortgage process. You can have chapters such as:
- How Lenders View Credit Scores
- Fixed and Adjustable? Which is Best for You?
- Sources for Down Payment Funds and Closing Costs
- The Loan Approval Process
- Employed or Self-Employed?
- Glossary of Loan Terms
There are other topics to be sure and you can write about as many as you can think of. You can convert the entire document into a .pdf format and have it available as an email attachment or a download from your site. Better yet, take your book to a printer and have some hard copies made. Printing technology today is much more advanced than it used to be and much less expensive. The editing tools in Microsoft’s Word application are extremely robust from spell check to setting margins to numbering pages and more. When you’re attending an open house, distribute these books to prospective buyers as they arrive. Few things say “authority” better than being a published author.
Prepare an education session for teachers at local schools. You can make the title anything you want, from First Time Buyers to How to Qualify for a Mortgage in Today’s Market. Odds are, your state or local government offers a special loan program or grant specifically for teachers. These programs will vary based upon location but most such assistance programs are distributed as a small grant that helps with a down payment and closing costs. Most programs ask the recipient be a teacher K-12 of any public or private school and employees of the school system.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sponsors the Good Neighbor Next Door Program designed to help law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs and state-licensed teachers buy a home at below market prices with a down payment as low as $100.
It’s no secret that the teaching profession is one of the more noble ones but it’s also a fact that teachers, especially public school teachers, don’t get paid what they’re really worth in today’s society. That means any help you can give them to get into a home will go a long way. Even if someone isn’t currently in the market for a home they might soon be.
“Texas has a special program called the ‘Homes for Texas Heroes’ that I present at a few times each year. I get permission from the principal’s office to make a presentation about available loan programs for teachers. A class is usually right after school is over and held on school grounds. It’s very interactive and the teachers are able to ask questions about the loan process in a class setting they’re familiar with and under no obligation.” says Steve Builta of American Bank of Commerce in Austin, Texas.
4. Financial Planners
Too often this referral source is ignored and that’s a shame. Financial planners job is to manage the finances of others and who do you think primarily pays for the services of a financial planner? Higher net worth individuals, that’s who. Higher income clients buy higher end homes and that will boost your jumbo loan production. You can make a few sales calls to financial planners in your area and start building relationships and over time you will be the trusted resource when a client asks a financial planner about whether or not it’s time to refinance or about how buying a home would affect their investments.
Consumers place a considerable amount of trust with their financial planner. After all, they’re trusting the financial planner with their investments and preparing for retirement and other lifestyle changes. If you get a referral from a financial planner you’re already ahead of the game because the referral came from someone they place a lot of trust into. Financial planners are a solid resource.
Conversely, there may be times when someone applies for a mortgage with you and their credit history and overall financial profile needs a little work. Make sure the referrals are going both ways and when you run across a prospect who needs help getting their finances back on track give them the name of a financial planner.
5. Past Clients
Your database is full of satisfied clients. This is your most precious resource because they’ve already expressed confidence in you by closing their loan with you. You also have records of prospects who at some point expressed an interest in getting a home loan but never completed the process. You need to keep farming this resource on a regular (preferably automated) basis. Take advantage of programs that automate your marketing to keep you “top of mind” with your past clients and prospects. An effective, efficient program takes the shape of a “set it and forget it” platform that you can set up and let run over time. All you need to do is feed the database with new client and prospect information as it comes in.
These tools are professionally designed by experts in the fields of marketing and communication and have identified various data points and metrics that know when to send out a particular message, how often and in what format. From personalized texts to postcard campaigns, these tools make an impact. And don’t just automate your marketing to past clients, set up additional campaigns for each referral source listed in this article.
The For Sale By Owner market is another area where you can increase the amount of referrals but perhaps not in the way you’re used to. When someone decides to sell on their own and put their home up for sale they’ll soon receive their fair share of solicitations from real estate agents to list their home for them or from other loan officers offering to finance their next purchase. To be different you can offer to host an open house for them and provide financing information to prospective buyers on the spot. Prepare some custom mortgage flyers to leave at the home as well.
You can also let the sellers know that you have pre-approved buyers looking for homes and you are always on the lookout for new buyers. That’s really going to get their attention. In this fashion, you’re more likely to get the FSBO’s business when they’re going to close on their next home.
7. Join the Club
Finally, join a club or community organization. Participate in local government and boards. Local governments typically have various vacancies they need to fill such as volunteer positions on their Park Commission or other board. Volunteer at various organizations you have an affinity with. There are different types of organizations you can join such as the Lion’s Club or Rotary Club that lets you network with other like-minded members in your community. Coach Little League or Swim Team.
Non-profits are another good resource to boost mortgage leads while at the same time providing a needed service in your community. When you join a volunteer organization you’re behind you’re also surrounded with like-minded individuals who share the same values that you do.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means but does provide ways to take your current referral methods to the next level. You may also discover that you soon develop an affinity with a particular resource and discover even more ways to increase the amount of leads you get each month.
But try these ideas, test them out and find one or two that provide you with the best results in the least amount of time. Whether it’s automating your marketing with a new campaign or working in different ways with your real estate agents, these ideas work and it’s time to put them to use.