As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, May 2011.
The mortgage industry has had what seems to be a decade of changes in just the past few years — increasing regulation, decreasing home values, shrinking secondary markets, decreasing total originations and negative media attention perpetuating the overall feeling of uncertainty.
These changes made us ask: In this environment, what are the key differentiators and attributes of top loan originators today? We discovered that they are not much different than they were in the "good old days."
These originators consistently work with a base of referral partners and mortgage lenders they are qualified to support. This is called model-matching your business and can be compared to the common investing advice to "invest in what you know."
Tips to drive success
The most-successful loan originators share some of the following attributes:
• Culture. When strong originators develop a niche in a particular referral-partner segment, they will more likely be viewed as experts within that space, thus growing their business significantly. These originators are not just chasing deals; they have a plan when they pick partners who model-match their business.
• Background. Top originators play to their strengths. If they have a background in construction, for example, they will be better suited to support referral partners with a construction background. Ensuring your business is model-matched will give you a genuine advantage against your competition by positioning you as the expert.
• Accessibility. With top producers, less is more. Instead of throwing a huge net over a large geographic footprint, they typically keep it simple to better meet expectations. Successes in the smaller, more- focused market segments can result in more-consistent referrals.
On top of model-matching their referral base, top originators also maintain a proactive approach to business. This helps them take advantage of and add specific tools and resources to an already-successful base of business, including the following:
• Technology. Technology affects four core areas: origination, operations, marketing and business development. Self-sourced originators always view these tools as important to their business, but they may not recognize how they affect their business and their ability to build it. Top originators recognize this clearly and use these tools efficiently.
• Social media. Many originators are still behind the curve when it comes to social media. Some of the best in the business, however, use social media to drive new sources of referrals. Recent industry events targeting top producers have proven that social media is at the forefront of their discussions.
• Team. Top loan originators rarely become successful on their own. They invest in themselves and their business by surrounding themselves with the right people.
• Coaching. At a recent industry event, about 80 percent of originators in attendance were top producers who said they invested in and used a professional coach for many reasons. They essentially keyed in on time-management and the support that helped them focus on the things that drive the most value to their businesses.
• Relationships. This is a relationship business, and top originators get that point clearly. A single transaction is not directly related to future success, but providing exceptional service that creates a trusted relationship and referral partner will create a loyal customer.
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