In the world of mortgage origination, it’s all about standing out among the competition. When it seems that everyone out there is doing much of the same work, what can originators do to draw borrowers in and win business over their peers?
There are a few different areas that originators can lean into and, when combined, these tips will help any mortgage professional stand out from the crowd. It all comes down to creating positive experiences for those involved in the transaction and ultimately making a lasting impression that leads to greater engagement with borrowers.
First and foremost, originators should invest their time in furthering their knowledge on a constant basis. Learning will always pay off in the long term as the mortgage and housing industries continue to change and evolve in dynamic fashion.
Mastering the products offered is one of the first steps to success. Originators — or anyone involved in the loan process, for that matter — should not only lean on technology to help them reach success. Understanding the processes behind the technology means that originators will succeed even if their tech makes a mistake.
Staying up to date on current industry trends and issues is another important step on the originator’s journey to success. It is key to be in tune with what’s happening in the industry and how it affects borrowers.
Just as it’s important for originators to educate themselves, it’s equally important for them to be educated on the competition. Understanding what your competitors are doing and the services they offer will help loan officers and brokers determine and sell the things that set them apart.
Once originators have educated themselves, it’s time to educate borrowers. Devoting time to truly guide borrowers each step of the way helps to set proper expectations in what is an often-complicated process. Understanding this process makes borrowers feel engaged. They will feel like they have truly worked hand in hand with their originator to reach the best possible loan solution. Great experiences for borrowers lead to many new referrals.
Borrower education is especially important as technology can sometimes pluck client engagement out of the equation. Interacting with an online form can make the process feel impersonal and can hinder relationship building with the originator. Taking the time to personally educate the borrower allows for more face-to-face or one-on-one time in which the borrower has the opportunity to get to know his or her originator. This builds trust in a way that may not be possible during other points in the loan origination process.
Another way to stand out is to understand and embrace niche products. It can be easy to do conventional or government-backed loans, but this does not set anyone apart today. Niche products build a reputation with Realtors and borrowers, leading to repeat business down the road.
Think of products such as construction-to-permanent loans, rehabilitation loans, home equity conversion mortgages, nonqualified mortgages and medical-professional programs. These are just a few examples of niche loan products that, when done well, can truly help an originator stand out. Niche loans may require more effort on the part of the originator but are more sustainable for success in the future.
For originators, finding one or more niches may be a challenge. Think of what is currently happening in the area you serve or what may be timely for borrowers. Take, for example, the so-called “rehab revolution” that the industry is currently experiencing.
Right now, the housing-inventory shortage is severe — and everyone is talking about it. There are bidding wars everywhere you turn as borrowers vie for the same few homes on the market. This inventory issue is causing headaches for borrowers and real estate agents alike, and while it may seem there is no quick solution to this complex issue, there is an opportunity to work around it.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have options for conventional rehabilitation programs: Fannie offers the HomeStyle Renovation mortgage and Freddie has its CHOICERenovation loan. Rehab loans enable originators to help borrowers fix up what they already have, or turn a fixer-upper into exactly what they need rather than hunt for something new. The Federal Housing Administration’s 203(k) loan also can be a great option.
While some people may be moving to an entirely new area, others are looking for a new house simply because what they need from their current home has shifted. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people need a home office or want a home gym. Others may want a larger kitchen or need an extra bathroom. In these situations, where a remodel could fix their problem, rehab loans can get borrowers exactly what they need without having to endure a bidding war and the stress that comes with it. For originators, this makes rehab loans incredibly timely and a great niche to jump into.
Finding a niche and working at it may not be as simple as doing conventional loans, but it has long-term benefits. Originators can meet new real estate agents, gain a unique reputation and, more importantly, increase business.
Finally, no matter which niche an originator chooses, or if they choose a niche at all, it’s important to get involved in the community as an industry expert. Originators should engage their local and state politicians on what the industry is facing. Similarly, local news media is another way originators can get out and engage the community.
It’s important for people to know an originator outside the confines of their office walls if the broker or loan officer wants to successfully grow their business. New business will not always come straight to them.
It also is important to get to know attorneys and others who work in the housing sector that originators may not interact with regularly. Putting yourself out there and forming strong relationships means that these other community leaders might start doing some talking for you. It’s great when an originator is able to market him or herself, but it’s even better when a trusted third party can vouch for their professionalism or industry expertise.
No matter which step an originator chooses to take, the important part is that he or she takes the first step. Doing what everyone else is doing will not set them apart. What matters is that originators stay up to date and get involved. They can then watch the results speak for themselves. ●