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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2005

Ways to Increase Realtor Referrals

Learn to work successfully with real estate agents to boost business

Receiving consistent referrals from Realtors and real estate agents can be your business’s lifeline and one of the most-reliable ways to increase production. When working with real estate agents, if you use two particular tactics — servicing the listing agent and becoming a second-opinion broker/lender — you will position yourself to develop strong, high-referral relationships.

Servicing the listing agent

Many brokers don’t call a listing agent unless the transaction absolutely requires moving ahead. This is a big mistake. Even if the listing agent already has a relationship with another broker or lender, you never know what will happen.

When I was an originator, I moved to a new area as rates were climbing. Looking for ways to develop new Realtor contacts, I took the servicing approach. I worked with one agent who was a high-producing Realtor. At the end of the transaction, I suggested we meet for lunch to discuss doing more business together. He said he was grateful for the service I provided but that he had a lender with whom he worked for many years. I repeated that I would love to work with him in the future.

I contacted him by fax and phone for the next six months, hoping to work with him again. One day, he said his current lender was not performing well and asked if I would like to be his preferred originator. That was the start of a fantastic relationship.

To set yourself apart when working with a listing agent who does not give you referrals, there are a few tactics you can use:

  • Make phone calls, even if everything is going well. By calling regularly, you are letting Realtors and real estate agents know you that are on top of things. Alert them that you have the file and that everything looks great for the agreed-upon closing date. Then call when the appraisal is in to let them know if there were any repairs. Make a courtesy call when the inspection and/or survey is done. Many Realtors have had deals go past the closing date simply because these items were not completed on time. By making these calls, you let them know that you are conscientious of the contract dates and their need to close. You can even offer to set up a closing time with the seller and ask if there is anything else you can do to help with the transaction. This tells agents that you can help and that your goal is to help make their jobs easier.

  • Send faxes and e-mails. Brand yourself as the broker who gets the job done. At set-up, send a fax or e-mail with all your contact information along with your processor’s information. It is also a good idea to send your buyer’s approval; don’t send personal information, just the buyer’s name and property address. Even if the Realtor received this information when the offer was presented, it likely was not from you. This gives you the opportunity to recognize Realtors’ and real estate agents’ parts in the transaction and express your willingness to help.

Closing is another occasion in which you can sell your services. Take a minute to stop by the closing to thank everyone for a successful transaction. Tell the agent and seller you would love to work with them again. This tactic is especially powerful if the seller’s broker or lender does not attend the closing.

After the closing, invite the agent to lunch to discuss how you can help one another’s businesses grow. Add the agent to your call list, fax list, e-mail list or visit list. Stay in touch. It may take six months before you get a referral, but it can be well worth the effort.

Becoming a second-opinion broker/lender

How many times have real estate agents told you, “I’m trying to give you referrals, but all my buyers already have a lender”?

This is common, and becoming a second-opinion broker/lender allows you to maintain contact with these agents’ clients.

Explain to real estate agents that your goal is to help their clients get the best-possible mortgage. Offer to review their buyers’ current good-faith estimates and give them another with which to compare. This allows borrowers to ensure they are getting the best deal for their situation and helps them feel comfortable with their lending choice.

They may be surprised at the difference in fees and interest rates. If your rates or fees are lower, tell them you would love to do their mortgage but that they also can use your information to negotiate with their current lender. This is a soft-sell situation. You do not want anyone to feel unnecessary stress or pressure.

I have had borrowers close with their original lender but return to me for refinances or refer their friends and family to me because I gave them a second opinion.

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To work successfully with real estate agents, you must develop a trust-based relationship. This takes time and consistency on your part. If you talk to a listing agent only once or offer your services as a second-opinion lender just a few times, you likely won’t reap the rewards of increased referrals and production. But if you continually use these tactics, you will develop a highly successful affiliation with many of the Realtors and real estate agents from whom you would like to receive steady streams of referrals.


 


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