COVID-19 has changed just about every element of how we work, including how loan officers build relationships with real estate agents.
Let’s take a look at 5 ways loan officers adjust to the ‘new normal’ and set themselves up for success with real estate agents in the COVID era.
1. Finetune your personal brand
Long gone are the days filled with meetings over coffee and lunches designed to woo real estate agent referral business. In our new, socially distant world, your digital footprint and personal brand is your leading method to win agent business.
Be active in sharing industry updates and market insights on your social media channels. Use email marketing to nurture relationships with real estate agents. Be consistent in how your present yourself digitally and use every opportunity to finetune your personal brand to show that you’re the best person to rely on during this period of uncertainty.
2. Be the expert
In a world of uncertainty, everyone is looking for someone to be a source of stability. If you can prove to real estate agents that you can provide expertise — and therefore, comfort and stability — to your borrowers in a period wholly characterized by uncertainty and anxiety, you are bound to win agent trust and business.
Use your expertise and deep knowledge of the mortgage lending process to establish trust with agents and their borrowers.
Find ways to show you’re an expert, whether it’s through your company’s blog or a self-published post on LinkedIn (Read our Mortgage Content Marketing 101 to learn how to get started with content marketing).
Use great email marketing to stay in front of real estate agent questions and show that you’re the best person to guide their borrowers through a home purchase or refi during COVID.
3. Don’t let your customer service slide for new home purchases
We all know refi volume has been through the roof lately, but don’t let your customer service quality slip for new home purchases.
JD Power’s 2019 U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Satisfaction Study shows that there is an inverse relationship between borrower satisfaction and origination volume.
That is, as loan volume gets higher, borrower satisfaction drops. And the decline in borrower satisfaction is drastically lower for borrowers buying a home than those doing refinances.
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you can let your quality of service slide, and part of that is making sure you’re adequately utilizing technology to automate your administrative tasks so you can focus on the borrower relationships.
If you’re not sure where to start, HousingWire is currently doing a series of Virtual Demo Days where they are featuring a number of mortgage technology providers and giving a sneak peek into how these technologies can help you better serve your borrowers and streamline your process to help lenders adapt to our weird, new world.
4. Make sure you can answer COVID-specific questions for borrowers
One of the most inconvenient aspects of our new socially distant world is not knowing what information online is still valid in the COVID era. We’re all used to being able to trust what a quick Google search tells us, but because COVID-19 has so quickly forced us all to change how we live, work, and play, it’s hard to trust information that wasn’t published in the last few months.
It’s difficult for borrowers right now to get the answers they need about the home purchase or refinance processes because those processes themselves have transformed so quickly over the last few months.
If you can show real estate agents that you’re already prepared answers to the most common questions that borrowers will have about the mortgage process during COVID-19, you will prove that you’re already ahead of the pack and dedicated to guiding the borrower through the process during this confusing time.
5. Stay up on industry trends & virtual networking opportunities
Because conference season has gone digital this year, lenders must work twice as hard to stay up to speed and be digitally engaged in the industry this year.
But in a way, your barrier to entry to the mortgage & real estate industry just got much lower. While conference season might be a bit more tame this year (and probably save you from a few hangovers along the way), it is much easier to work industry events into your schedule when they don’t require cross-country travel and several days of uninterrupted time.
Stay on top of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s list of upcoming industry events, as well as NAR’s upcoming agenda of virtual events.
Likewise, we’ve emphasized before how important it is for loan officers to have a presence in their local community to garner trust with real estate agents, and that remains true in the COVID era. Keep an eye on your local REALTOR® association, as they are likely offering a number of virtual networking events in your community.
The shift to an entirely-digital experience in the COVID era has made it difficult to feel connected to others, be it your colleagues, referral partners, or borrowers themselves.
It may take a little extra effort, but savvy lenders will stay in front of managing their digital presence and use all of the tools at their disposal — social media, email and content marketing, virtual networking events, and more — to bridge the digital gap and be an ongoing resource that their referral partners can rely on.
The end of our socially distant world doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. If you haven’t adapted your real estate agent relationship-building strategies to the COVID era yet, it’s time to put in the work and ensure you’re nurturing your referral relationships so you’re still flush with leads when origination volume finally slows down.