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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   September 2014

Rope in Realtors to Increase Business

Strategic online searching lets originators target their networking efforts

As the mortgage industry continues to transition from a refinance market to a purchase environment, establishing relationships with Realtors is critical to becoming a successful loan originator. Although mortgage brokers and bankers should use a multipronged marketing approach to get leads, Realtors should be the main focus of their efforts.

Potential homebuyers tend to start their search on the Internet, reviewing listings on various websites and then contacting the listing agent prior to seeking a mortgage lender. Because Realtors typically require a prospective homebuyer to be pre-approved prior to showing houses, this is where a loan originator is necessary. Originators who have connections with Realtors will benefit from this type of cycle.

"As with any marketing initiative, you should track
and measure the success of your campaign."

This is why using websites like Realtor.com continues to be a vital step when trying to build relationships with Realtors. Consider the fact that originators typically market to a specific geographical area, price range or even property type, such as condominiums or single-family residences.

This is the advantage of using the Web, as you can narrow your search of Realtors based on the aforementioned criteria. Although many loan officers typically work Monday through Friday, Realtors are in full swing on Saturday and Sunday, and this is where the opportunities lie. Visiting open houses is not a new technique by any means, but with a little tweaking of the process, open houses remain a worthwhile avenue to approach.

Although the traffic at open houses has declined in recent years because viewing houses on the Internet has become an increasingly popular choice to identify properties, open houses are a valuable tool for Realtors to market their listings and gain prospective buyers without Realtor representation. Agents often have free time at an open house, which makes visiting on these days a great opportunity for originators to build relationships. Via Realtor.com, you can target your search for open houses down to a specific city, zip code or price range of listings.

Once you determine the open houses you are going to attend, the next step is to perform an Internet search on the specific Realtor who is hosting the open house. The necessity of performing this preliminary research is twofold. First, you want to ensure that you are targeting high-producing agents who will be a good fit with the type of lending products your institution offers. Second, the investigation will give you some talking points with the Realtor with respect to the focus of the agent’s business, hobbies and so on.

At this point, it’s time to head off to your local discount store. Be sure to purchase the following items:

  • A case of bottled water
  • A package of individual travel-sized tissues
  • A bulk box of individual-sized chips, pretzels or granola bars
  • A box of gourmet large cookies

After this, visit a dollar store and purchase small boxes or gift bags, filling each bag with the items from the aforementioned list, as well as your business cards and company collateral. Your company might have printed logo stickers to attach to each bag, but if these are unavailable, your local office supply store should have printer-ready stickers so you can create your own printed labels with a home computer.

When you visit open houses, you’ll occasionally find that Realtors are in the middle of showing the property. Of course, if this happens, do not disrupt the showing. Simply ask for a business card and leave the care package with the agent; you may follow up with an e-mail at a later date. If an agent is free, however, seize this conversational opportunity to learn more about the agent’s business and start to establish a relationship.

As with any marketing initiative, you should track and measure the success of your campaign. Create a spreadsheet and track the agents’ names, companies, the dates of your visits, property-listing addresses, contact frequency, and ultimately, if future referrals were received from the open houses.

This initiative virtually guarantees that you’ll get in front of Realtors, but it’s up to you to continue to build your relationships. Steady contact with an agent by way of e-mails with industry articles and pertinent lending information may be helpful in keeping your relationships prosperous and fruitful. With a small monetary cost and a little time on the weekend, you may find that meeting productive Realtors isn’t as difficult as you first thought. 

Liberty Bank for Savings does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the content of this article. Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author, and are not necessarily the opinions of Liberty or its management.


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