Residential Magazine

Rest, Refresh and Get Ready

Hone your craft now before the busy spring homebuying season

By Tim Ross

For many mortgage professionals, the winter months are traditionally the slow season. It’s a time of rest and restoration, when the urgency and activity of the busier times of the year give way to a more sedate pace.

The best lenders and mortgage companies, however, recognize that now also is an ideal time for professional growth and development, with opportunities to hone your craft and up your game that might not be realistic during the busy homebuying season. Making the most of offseason flexibility is especially important this year, maybe more than in any other winter in recent memory. With the hope of a vaccine-fueled economic rebound as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ebb in 2021, mortgage professionals should be primed to take full advantage. 

The Mortgage Bankers Association and government-sponsored enterprises agree that the refinancing opportunities that fueled strong industry performance in 2020 are likely to decline somewhat in 2021. Business is still expected to be robust, however, even if costs cutting into profits leads to greater competitiveness.

With this in mind, here are a few essential training recommendations for lenders and other mortgage professionals. This includes tips for implementing specific tools and technologies to optimize operations, the importance of social media courses to grow professional networks, and training for specialized programs and offerings that can help serve key niche groups of homebuyers.

Pursue training

The most effective mortgage professionals recognize that there is real value in pursuing new training opportunities. These extend beyond the minimum requirements that loan officers need to complete to maintain and renew their professional licensing. 

Training for new products and tech platforms is always important, but it also is critical to make sure that offseason training priorities reflect conditions and developments both across the U.S. and around the world. The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the ways that many potential homebuyers and borrowers communicate with Realtors and mortgage professionals. 

There are new tools, technologies and processes that need to be mastered. Roles, responsibilities and priorities evolve over time, and offseason training should address these shifts. 

During the refinance boom of 2020, for example, many originators had to do little active selling and prospecting. As business volumes ebb and flow, however, they will need to refresh these skills and find new ways to communicate so they can differentiate themselves from the competition.

Expand your toolkit

One of the best and most important ways to bolster marketing, amplify messaging, and connect with potential new contacts and clients is to effectively utilize social media. Social media platforms and channels can (and should) be a part of the toolkit for all successful mortgage professionals. 

Establishing, refining and reinforcing social media best practices can have a significant and lasting value for loan officers and other mortgage pros. Become proficient at video conferencing and webinars, as well as digital marketing on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. 

Leverage these important tools by boosting familiarity, fluency and consistency across these platforms. Social media can not only be an effective and powerful tool for branding, but it also can be utilized in specific and meaningful ways to supercharge lead generation and connect with people who need what you have to offer.

Communicate and reconnect

Originators and Realtors have traditionally had regular chances to interact. Today, these interactions are more limited and infrequent due to many real estate agents and mortgage professionals working remotely during the pandemic.

In this context, trying to develop new relationships can be challenging. This makes it all the more important for mortgage professionals to find new ways to communicate and connect with current and prospective industry partners. 

Mortgage originators should not only maintain contact with the buyer’s agent but also prospect through the seller’s agent. Whether it is a formal policy or simply a standard best practice, finding ways to sow new real estate connections with potential referral sources can reap value, especially when entering the spring selling season. 

Find a niche

The offseason also is the perfect time for mortgage professionals to expand their repertoire. This can include improving their familiarity with specialized programs and niche opportunities that might not always get the attention they deserve. 

Well-known marketing guru David Newman says that “experts win on value” and “generalists die on price.” In his book, “Do It! Marketing,” Newman goes on to say, “Rock your niche: You may not be the only person in your niche, but you can be the best at what you do in your own unique way.” 

Specialization in specific loan programs or borrower groups can create value that extends well beyond individual clients and opportunities. It can help you stand out in a crowded and competitive industry by bolstering your brand and broadening your appeal to new audiences. Any mortgage originator that can accomplish this will have made outstanding use of their time during the slower winter homebuying season. ●


  • Tim Ross

    Tim Ross is CEO of Ross Mortgage Corp., a residential mortgage banking company based in Troy, Michigan. He has more than 30 years of experience in the lending industry, having expanded Ross Mortgage from a single-office startup to a multibranch, full-service company. Ross Mortgage is one of the top independent lending companies in the Midwest and serves its clients through a network of offices throughout the eastern U.S. Reach Ross at

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