Forging a close professional relationship with an agent is one of the most valuable things you can do for your lending career, but empty promises and miscommunication from LOs has made many agents hesitant to collaborate with lenders.
We spoke with a number of agents to get some first-hand advice about what loan officers should (and should not) do to foster collaborative relationships with agents:
Show Your Industry Knowledge
The mortgage industry changes at a breakneck pace and agents want to know that they’re partnering with an industry expert who will help guide them and their borrowers through the trickier aspects of the mortgage process.
Demonstrate your knowledge of mortgage products that serve a wide range of homebuyers, from FHA to first-time homebuyer loan programs.
Add Value with Email Marketing
Because agents get so many emails from lenders, it’s in your best interest to figure out a way to add value with your email marketing. One agent we talked to raved about a loan officer who would send him weekly industry updates and rates. Consider how your industry expertise to educate agents on providing early guidance to customers on their financing options.
Grow Your Social Presence
With agents relying so heavily on referrals to drive their business, they want to build their brand and find new ways to gain exposure. Work on building your social media presence so you can sweeten the deal for potential agents to want to work with you.
Back Up Your Claims
As the Inman Report notes, “Lender marketing efforts directed at real estate professionals mean nothing if the lenders cannot back up their advertised claims. Real estate professionals only want to work with lending partners with a proven track record whom they can trust to help clients get what they need to close on time.”
Agents want to know that you and your team can deliver on the closing date, consistently. Can your team live up to your promises every time?
Establish a Local Presence
Realtors want a local lender who knows their market and can be available to meet the borrower face-to-face. Focus your networking efforts in your local market by becoming an affiliate member of your local real estate agent association. Especially in competitive markets, that means your prequalification letter will help your homebuyers offer rise to the top of the pack.
Consider Implementing “Office Hours”
What better way to build a relationship with agents than to be right in the office next door? Several agents we talked to had great experience with lenders who would have “office hours” on-site one or two days a week. By being at their beck and call, you are organically incentivizing agents to want to work with you.
Crash Their Open House
This came up again and again in our discussions with agents. While it might seem like a good way to (literally) get your foot in the door, it’s invasive and disrespectful to the agent. Of course, if you’re invited, some agents do appreciate having a trusted partner to discussing financing structures on-the-spot with prospective buyers.
Make Promises You Can’t Keep
Many agents we talked to seemed wary or downright jaded about building new relationships with loan officers. The reason? Consistently bad experiences with loan officers who make empty promises with no follow-through. Put your money where your mouth is and get your team to consistently deliver on your promises.
Rely on Cold Emails
Agents are constantly bombarded with cold emails from loan officers. So what if you focused your efforts elsewhere? Share their posts on social media and interact with them digitally, or—even better—network in-person at local networking events. Many successful loan officers join BNI or Vistage groups where they interact not just with real estate agents, but accountants and lawyers too—all great sources of referrals.
Be Too Pushy
When you first meet a an agent, do not ‘push’ loans or start asking for appointments. Your goal should be to establish credibility and trust. Focus on quality relationship-building, and sincere conversations to establish common ground.
“The mistake I see many mortgage reps make is the ’attack’ for business. I am approached by mortgage reps with a list of questions, ‘Who do you recommend to your clients for loans?’ ’How many deals do my agents do?’ ‘Can we make an appointment?’ Before you can get reception on that level, you have to build credibility and trust. Without overdoing the mortgage conversation, network on common ground first,” says Jeanne Feeni, a successful agent in Warren, NJ
Want more insights into how to win with real estate agents? Check out our eBook, “Winning Agent Business,” which features insight and tips from real estate agents themselves on how to foster a mutually beneficial working relationship: