Residential Magazine

Grab Their Attention

Pursue this effective strategy to build fruitful referral relationships

By Ron Vaimberg

Many great life lessons come from the most unexpected sources, including children’s movies. For instance, right before launching into the song, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” Mary Poppins says to the Banks children: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and, snap, the job’s a game.”

This is a perfect message for mortgage originators looking to build referral relationships with real estate agents. Creating these relationships is a necessary part of growing business, but it’s filled with roadblocks. Once you understand what it takes to overcome these barriers, however, the job not only becomes fun — it becomes a game you can win.

Every originator knows the importance of building referral relationships. After all, having a steady flow of referrals is certainly a great way to survive and even excel in a down market. In an era where purchase business is fiercely contested, establishing fruitful relationships with real estate agents is particularly tough, especially since real estate agents are facing pressures of their own.

That being said, winning referral partner relationships can actually be much easier than most originators think. When you have a unique strategy to developing relationships, you will find that many of the barriers that get in the way will be wiped out.

For example, most mortgage professionals who go after referral business do so by sending emails and texts, making phone calls and visiting open houses to build connections with real estate agents. While all of these can be great strategies, many of them are executed poorly because originators don’t understand the principles of influence that make winning these relationships much easier, more effective and much faster.

The reality is that most agents already have existing relationships. So, what you need to focus on is how to get in between these relationships. With that in mind, here are some steps that, when mastered, will make winning referral partner relationships easier than you ever imagined.

Stand out

The No. 1 complaint that real estate agents have with mortgage originators is poor communication. Most mortgage originators will approach this challenge by promising Realtors that they’ll communicate with them regularly. The moment an agent hears that, you sound just like every other originator they’ve ever dealt with.

A better approach is to understand what agents value. All agents want and need great communication, but they also have a need to be heard. Therefore, don’t just tell them what you’re going to do. Ask them questions, so you’re better able to understand what they’re truly looking for.

Your positioning is about understanding what it takes to get noticed by agents, and it should be based off one of two things: You either have to solve a problem or you have to create an opportunity.

For instance, if an agent needs to increase their visibility in the marketplace, your positioning could be about how you can help them achieve this, which could lead to more listings or more buyers for the agent. Keep in mind that your positioning should go beyond transactions and contribute to the agent’s growth.

Overcoming hesitancy

Once you create what your positioning will be, the next step is leveraging it to get an agent’s attention. Again, the key is asking questions that help them understand that the solution or opportunity you’re offering is something they need.

For example, instead of simply telling an agent you specialize with first-time borrowers or can provide 100% financing for those with limited funds for a downpayment, you can send an email or text that asks a simple question such as, “Do you work with first-time buyers with limited funds for a downpayment?” The key is to get agents to recognize that they need a solution before you tell them that you have it. When you take people through this process, the likelihood of them wanting to engage with you goes up dramatically.

When reaching out to agents, you’re going to be hit with many objections and challenges. The top three are, “I have an existing relationship,” “I have an in-house lender,” and “I only do listings.” The vast majority of originators have no idea how to overcome these statements, which is why you need to anticipate them and be prepared to address them effectively. But how?

Here’s an example: If an agent says they have an existing relationship, you can respond by saying, “I appreciate you being honest with me, and I expected that was the case.” Then, tell them the reason you’re reaching out to them and insert your positioning statement. This will blow right past the objection that they were using to get rid of you. Now you can zero in on your positioning and tell them the specific problem you can solve or the opportunity you offer.

Deliver the ‘wow’

Once you have the agent’s attention, or you’ve moved on to meet them face to face or virtually, you’re ready for the last step — delivering the ‘wow’ presentation. The ultimate agent presentation moves agents past the initial greeting to clearly recognizing the benefits that you provide, and how those benefits exceed those of your competitors or any existing relationship they have.

The key is not to think about what you’re going to say when you go into these meetings, which is what most of your competitors will do. The secret sauce to delivering the most compelling presentation you’ll ever deliver in your life is — you guessed it — asking great questions. When you know what questions to ask, any agent you’re speaking with will tell you exactly what you need to know in order to win that relationship.

These steps may sound overly simplistic. The truth of the matter is winning referral business really is this simple. Does it take a little bit of practice and commitment to mastering it? Absolutely. But once you understand the principles of these steps, winning relationships no longer becomes a struggle. It becomes fun. These steps work in any type of market, too.

The problem many originators face is that they let market conditions dictate their success. Yet every originator has the ability to define their own success based upon the actions that they are willing to take and the skills that they are willing to learn and develop.


This year will present both challenges and opportunities for every originator. By mastering the art of winning referral partner relationships, you can navigate the current mortgage landscape and beyond with confidence and resilience. ●


  • Ron Vaimberg

    Ron Vaimberg is an internationally successful strategist and one of the mortgage industry’s top trainers and coaches. A former top producing loan originator and real estate agent, he has coached originators who have ranked in the top 1% in loan production and earned over $1 million annually. Vaimberg began his career in 1984 as a real estate sales professional on the North Shore of Long Island. In 1997, he created the New York Mortgage Institute, a successful training program for mortgage originators. To learn more, visit

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