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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   June 2006

There’s Value in Attending Closings

It’s a matter of preserving trust — and gaining referrals

One of the most-important things you can do as an originator to enhance your clients’ experience and set the stage for referral business is to show up at closings. It’s as simple as that.

When loan officers attend closings — and only 1 percent to 10 percent actually do — they can explain the answers and bring a feeling of trust and comfort to the closing. Real estate agents are often unaware of the loan details. Plus, if there is a question on fees, for example, being absent from the closing casts a shadow on the loan officer’s credibility, even though the fees may be legitimate.

It can take time, but there is a solution: Before the closing begins, explain that you are short on time but want to make sure there are no questions. Tell the buyers that you will go over the settlement statement, trust deed and note. Once these are done, it is often smooth sailing.

Here are a few other tips about attending closings.

Doing a dress rehearsal

Many people have had bad experiences at closing. This can range from incorrect fees to a different program than what was disclosed. Even if borrowers don’t know the terms, they will see you as dishonest and uncaring unless you can explain the paperwork. Simply going over the paperwork before signing will help create a smooth closing, even if you are unable to attend.

If you can’t attend the closing, let the borrowers know. But to ensure they are comfortable with what will happen, contact them for a closing “dress rehearsal” During the rehearsal, review: the interest rate, monthly payment, first-payment due date, how much money to bring to closing, terms, how names are printed for signatures and vesting.

Offering a guarantee

Many real estate agents say they would gladly refer business to reputable loan officers who guaranteed they would be at each closing. Think of the power of this marketing strategy.

In writing, guarantee to agents and borrowers that you will be at the closing. This simple step will ensure that the transaction ends on a positive note and opens the door to ask for referrals.

In your guarantee, consider including a statement such as, “Your satisfaction and the satisfaction of every borrower is my highest priority. I want to earn your business and will do everything I can to make each transaction as smooth as possible.”

Asking for referrals

The most-effective originators are often those who actually ask for business at the closing table. For example, a loan officer can say, “I enjoyed working with you, and I work off of referrals. I would appreciate it if you could pass my card to anyone you know who needs a mortgage.”

It also is effective to tell borrowers that you will send out monthly mailings to stay in touch with them. This way, they will have your contact information to pass along as needed. This opens the door to consistent referrals as you stay in touch with past clients. You are giving them the opportunity to help your business and are letting them know that you appreciate their referrals.

•  •  •

Think of what it takes to get each loan. You work for the referral. Then you convince the referral to choose you. Then you work to get the loan through processing and underwriting. After all this hard work, making sure the closing is a positive experience takes only a small amount of time and energy in comparison.

It’s a small commitment with big results, which will create a strong business from a continual stream of referrals.


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