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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   November 2013

Elevate Your Customer Service

Follow these tips to make the mortgage process easier on your clients

Buying a home can be one of the most exciting experiences of a lifetime — and one of the most overwhelming, as well. Securing a mortgage can be a stressful endeavor for any homebuyer, particularly when it comes to inexperienced first-time buyers. The financial aspect of buying a home is fraught with details, and some homebuyers don’t know where to begin. As a mortgage professional, how can you help reduce your clients’ anxiety as they embark on the mortgage process?

Although some clients may come to the table with a thorough understanding of the mortgage process, others may suffer from information overload. They may rely on you to educate them as you provide them with a pathway to home financing. As a professional in this industry, you probably realize that a well-informed client is a happy client, and that translates into a client who is easier to work with.

"At one of your initial meetings, provide your client with details about how the entire process works from start to finish."

Here are a few tips that mortgage brokers and originators can implement to mitigate their clients’ stress and ultimately streamline their path to homeownership.

  • Outline expectations. At the outset of the mortgage process, make sure that your clients understand the steps involved and what they’ll be expected to provide in terms of documentation. No one likes to be surprised. You might consider making a list of required documents. Explain the difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval, and detail what’s needed for each. Ideally, your clients will be aware of certain expectations ahead of time and will have paperwork like bank statements, tax returns and pay stubs in hand when they’re necessary, but if they don’t have these items already, you should make sure that they secure them as soon as possible.
  • Define terminology. For the client who has never taken out a mortgage loan, it can be intimidating to hear a lot of unfamiliar jargon. Take care to explain any legalese or other terms that could be novel or confusing. Explain concepts such as private mortgage insurance, escrow accounts, earnest money and all the various fees involved in closing costs.
  • Provide an overview. If your clients are starting from scratch, you’ll need to educate them on the basics, including loan types and terms, and any factors that could have an impact on available interest rates. Explain all the details about appraisals and inspections, as well as why they matter.
  • Highlight the importance of credit. Your clients should understand the impact that their credit ratings will have on securing an attractive interest rate. If you emphasize the importance of good credit, a client will be less likely to be blindsided by the effects of less-than-desirable credit. Explain the importance of debt-to-income ratios in securing a mortgage loan and the necessity of maintaining a cash reserve after the sale closes.
  • Do a walk-through. At one of your initial meetings, provide your client with details about how the entire process works from start to finish. It may be helpful to create a visual representation of the process with discrete steps spelled out. Charts and timelines can help illustrate what will be needed and when it will be expected. If your clients understand the plan, they’ll be more likely to feel involved in the process. Outline the various steps involved in the application, processing, underwriting and closing so that your client has a clear overall view. Highlight possible points of confusion or potential stumbling blocks so that your clients feel prepared for any difficulties that may arise.
  • Prioritize tasks. Make sure that your clients realize where their focus should lie. Frequently checking in to make sure that everything is on track will keep the process running smoothly. Your clients will want a clear understanding of what’s expected and you’ll want them to provide you with what you need on time.
  • Communicate. Clients can get panicky if they perceive that they are in the dark and can’t get in touch with you. Approachability and responsiveness are key. Make sure that you address phone calls and e-mail messages quickly — within 24 hours at the most. If you don’t have an answer to a question, assure your client that you are working on getting an answer. Encourage questions and be available for any concerns that your clients may voice. Your patience will pay off. Above all, however, make sure that any communication is clear and concise, leaving no room for confusion. Remember that you are the expert, so when you project a calm, authoritative and comforting demeanor, you will put your client at ease.


  • Put yourself in your client’s shoes. One of the biggest barriers to understanding your client’s point of view can be a lack of reference. After all, you’re the expert, and it may be difficult to imagine someone’s lack of knowledge about mortgages. If it is hard for you to empathize, remind yourself how it feels to be a beginner at something. This is your opportunity to play the role of teacher and share your wealth of insights.
  • Be a problem solver. In the case that an unforeseen problem arises, you can be a troubleshooter for your client. Make your client feel that you are working through the issue together and that you are leveraging all of your connections and expertise to bring about a positive outcome.
  • Focus on the goal. When your clients become discouraged or overwhelmed, it’s your job to remind them that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that all of the headaches of taking a mortgage will prove worthwhile when homeownership becomes a reality. Emphasize that the end result will justify the hard work and patience.
  • Follow through. Any services that you provide to your client are only as good as your delivery. Make sure that you follow through on any promises or obligations that you have agreed to provide. Your ability to deliver will gain you the trust and respect of your client, which will garner further business and establish your reputation for achieving results.

In addition to playing the role of an advocate for your client, you also can become a resource for clients and prospective clients alike as they navigate through the increasing amount of online information available about mortgages. This is an important opportunity for you to act as an adviser and gain business, establishing yourself as a leading industry resource.

Here are four methods to get your name in the game via an online presence and the use of social media.

  1. Build a state-of-the-art website. In terms of streamlining the loan process, it has never been easier to make information accessible. You can become a reference and an authority on the mortgage process by developing a professional web presence with clear-cut information that homebuyers can have at their fingertips. A sleek website allows you to share frequent updates about new information in the mortgage industry.
  2. Educate yourself about Facebook and Twitter. Savvy business owners realize that Facebook has become increasingly popular as a means to communicate with clients and get a message out into the online community. Maintaining a business presence on Facebook enables you to communicate new ideas quickly to anyone who is interested. Facebook allows you to network in a casual, approachable manner that may appeal to those who just are getting their feet wet in the mortgage process. Additionally, if you feel that your clients would benefit from up-to-the-minute updates in the mortgage industry, consider opening a Twitter account and building a following, if you haven’t done so already.
  3. Get LinkedIn. Colleagues and clients alike can benefit from your LinkedIn profile, which outlines your credentials and professional affiliations. You can use this medium as a springboard to your other Web-based outlets, such as Facebook or your professional blog.
  4. Blog your expertise. Few forms of media are as accessible as a blog. Getting started in the blogosphere is as easy as typing up your thoughts in a word-processing program and transferring them to an online forum designed for blogging. You can keep clients abreast of developments and share advice. By keeping track of comments posted on your blog, you’ll have a conduit into what consumers want to know about the mortgage process. You can even start a dialogue with readers via a question-and-answer section.

Now more than ever, building a client base is dependent on your ability to provide a level of service beyond that of others in your industry. By ensuring that your clients thoroughly understand the mortgage process, you ultimately will provide them with a favorable experience at a pivotal time in their lives. Stand out from the crowd by becoming known as an authority and an advocate in the industry, and your business will thrive. 


 


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