Any real estate professional knows that the current market is hot. From declining median days on market (19 days as of April) to record-low inventory (down 48% year-over-year for the month of April), today’s conditions are daunting for home buyers. What discussed less are the unique demands that real estate agents face right now.
A few conditions, including low supply, strong demand, and rising prices, mean agents need to hustle to land deals for their clients. Think: multiple offers, bidding wars, and lightning-fast timelines.
“This market is like nothing we’ve ever seen,” said George Schechter, a Compass real estate agent in Florida with 12 years of experience. “In certain neighborhoods, such as Coconut Grove and Coral Gables, we’re at 25-year lows in inventory, with buyer demand I’ve never experienced.”
As an example, George recounted a recent house he listed at 7:00 a.m. for $895,000 on a Friday. He had 62 showing requests by 10:00 a.m. and 27 offers by Monday. The house sold fast—for $1.5 million.
The current purchase-heavy market provides a prime opportunity for loan officers to build rapport with agents to earn substantial referral business. A feasible way to earn these referrals is by helping agents field the unique issues presented by today’s frenzied market.
1. Communicate proactively.
To see an offer successfully through to the closing table in the current conditions, real estate agents need a smooth process. And to achieve that, agents need quick replies and proactive communication from other professionals involved.
If you want to gain favor with real estate agents during any cycle, commit to excellent communication. Nearly 80% of agents report valuing efficient communication and responsiveness over all other concerns. While this habit is important at all times, it becomes even more vital when the market is frothy, with multiple offers on every listing. In fact, if you’re able to handle the fast pace of today’s lending process, the agents you work with will be more likely to trust your abilities during more normal market phases.
When it comes to choosing a go-to lender, Longmont, CO real estate agent Mindy Jensen values solid communication above all else. Speaking about John, her loan officer of choice, she said, “I could text him at 7:00 in the morning, and he’s texting me back before 7:30.”
Being proactive with your communication means going beyond simply replying to texts and emails quickly. If you really want to stand out, aim to update your agent partners once a week, even if that’s just to say there’s little change in a loan’s status. Keeping the agent apprised will take follow-up off of their plate and let them know you’re on top of the process.
2. Be highly available.
Going hand-in-hand with good communication, loan officers should expect to be available after normal business hours in today’s tight conditions. With deals flying off the market, agents need their loan officers to have flexible schedules. That includes evenings and weekends at times.
“I had a go-to lender for 11 years before I met John,” said Mindy. “He’s no longer my go-to lender because he only works 9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday. Well, right now properties are selling on Saturday and Sunday.”
Acting quickly and efficiently also means taking advantage of tech tools that help progress loans even when loan officers are on-the-go. Features like QuickPricer Compare & Share, for instance, help busy loan officers run and compare pricing scenarios that can be easily shared with agents and borrowers.
By keeping the ball moving even while out of the office, loan officers can help agents streamline the lending process, building rapport and trust.
3. Provide amazing service.
If you want to impress stressed, frazzled agents, the best way to make a good impression is through top-notch service. In times of high pressure, when they’re juggling borrower expectations and bidding wars, agents want to know their lending partner has everything under control. Above anything else, incredible service—including patience to answer questions, the ability to anticipate issues, and genuine care for the borrower—will earn you repeat and referral business.
“Anybody can be an amazing lender,” said Mindy, “John is giving me what everyone else can give me. All the rates we’re getting right now are within an eighth [point] of each other. That’s what, $20 a month? It’s not really so much about the rates. If you want to partner with an agent out there who’s making deals all the time, you just need to be great.”
Great service can also entail being honest about roadblocks that arise. If you learn about a holdup or foresee an issue, proactively relay that to the agent and borrower. It’s better to be transparent and guide the buyer through the situation by providing your expertise than to wait until they reach out to you asking what the holdup is.
Opportunity in today’s market
Many first-time home buyers feel squeezed out of the housing market. While it’s undoubtedly a hard time for buyers and agents, there’s still plenty of opportunity for significant purchase volume. If loan officers stand out to their customers now, they’ll position themselves as go-to lenders for agents in market cycles to come.