Heading into what is forecast to be the busiest homebuying season in years, you need to take stock of your Realtor and homebuilder partners. Make sure you put into motion a plan to protect your base while adding new relationships that will expand your purchase-market share this year.
Let’s break down the variables that go into executing a strategic plan with your third-party referral sources during the homebuying season. The key to success is consistently calling these partners while being extremely proactive in informing them of changes throughout the entire purchase process.
When it comes to your referral partners, avoid surprises. This isn’t a secret birthday party. With commissions at stake, if you want a long-term relationship with your purchase partner, stay ahead at all times in communicating with your referral sources.
Everyone is dealing with the business challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. So, it is paramount to provide your referral partners with timely updates, which can protect your base of Realtors and potentially add new agents.
By establishing a routine, you will set an expectation in the Realtor’s mind for what you will deliver and demonstrate a standard of high-level support. Take a look at any top-flight mortgage originator and they are likely to follow a similar pattern in creating true partnerships with their top real estate agents.
When you start your week, always have a plan to contact your agents. Monday is a great day to start. Reach out to everyone you feel is in your base of key agents (defined by the fact they have sent you a prospective borrower in the past 60 days). Place a call to them mid-morning and ask about the business they saw over the weekend, then inquire about what can you do to assist them.
Since you have a working relationship, do not worry about only leaving a voicemail if they do not answer. You just need to establish the pattern that they can expect a call from you every week. Once you do this for a 90-day period, it becomes an expectation that you are there for them and they can count on you.
The next contact should be Wednesday or Thursday (whatever day you feel is the most significant). This is a marketing day for you, when you can provide partners with tools to help them in addition to providing an update on all loans you have in process.
One week, set a time to talk over the phone. The next week, send a substantive email with additional information that will help them do their jobs. Send market updates (not just pricing information) along with key technology advantages you may offer to them and their clients. Plus, you should share any ideas to help them in marketing their open houses or leveraging a preapproval in a seller’s market versus only doing a prequalification.
Finally, availability is critical after the shift to daylight savings time last month. More business will be conducted after hours and on weekends. By promptly replying to a text, email or call from your agents, you will demonstrate why they work with you and put their commission check in your hands.
While a consistent calling pattern sets up an expectation for your referral partners, you should reach out in other ways as well. Set up an additional two touchpoints every week and be proactive when milestones are reached during the loan process all the way to the funding.
The first level of updates should be in writing (preferably by email for all parties involved to have a better trail to follow, but texting can be utilized as well with the Realtor and borrower). Most importantly, you need to speak with the Realtor and borrower once a week to establish a bond of loyalty to you as a mortgage originator.
While emails and texts are useful, if they’re your only means of communications with a client or referral partner, you will fail to establish yourself as the trusted financial partner on the transaction. It becomes easier to break away early in the loan process and to be lured by price. You need to build a strong relationship with the borrower and it’s hard to do that by clicking away at messages with your thumbs.
At the beginning of the loan process, borrowers are often susceptible to being lured away by price but only if you allow this to happen. Reach out and talk with the borrower in real time to build a strong relationship. Loyalty and trust are earned; don’t assume the borrower will stick with you even with a strong Realtor referral. Anticipate their questions and use your knowledge to form a bond that is hard to break simply due to a difference in price. Go the extra step by truly engaging with the Realtor and borrower once a week, at minimum.
Finally, if you are to add Realtors to your base, go after past relationships that have become dormant. Look at all Realtors you did purchase business with in 2020 and choose the top five relationships to reactivate. Simply reach out to relive a recent experience you had together and ask for the opportunity to work together again in 2021. Don’t get into why you have not worked together lately. Instead focus on what went well the last time and emphasize that you are eager to provide an even higher level of support this year.
It’s easier to get these past relationships restarted than to convince a new agent to work with you. You’ve already proven your ability as a mortgage originator with these previous referral partners, even if you lost touch due to heavy volume or any other reasons. Show them you are committed to reestablishing a valuable relationship this year.
● ● ●
Put a plan in place every week, and consistently contact the Realtor and the borrower with timely information. If you do this, you will be ready to tackle the busy homebuying season, and you will position yourself to take advantage of what looks to be a promising purchase environment in 2021. ●