Residential Magazine

Strong Relationships Drive Long-Term Growth

Proactive communication with clients and referral partners is a competitive necessity

By Bruno Pasceri

Any mortgage company leader who has been around for a while has seen this movie: Interest rates drop by 50 basis points, igniting the refinancing market and a chance to quickly capture additional revenue 

When this scenario recently repeated itself, how prepared were your loan officers to reach out to clients potentially interested in a refi? How many of these clients became ex-clients because your competitors swooped in and poached both the loans and the relationships that went with them? 

Unfortunately, loan officers don’t always feel the pressure to proactively maintain relationships after a transaction is closed. Meanwhile, the potential repeat business every mortgage client represents is really a long-term growth strategy. Although loan officers may balk at the idea of engaging with clients on a regular basis, it’s the tried-and-true way to build borrower loyalty and prevent defections to the bank down the street.

In today’s ultracompetitive lending environment, the need for this kind of ongoing, direct outreach is even more imperative if lenders are to continue growing their top- and bottom-line revenues. The mortgage industry has always operated amid challenging and often unpredictable conditions, and those who respond and pivot quickly to support borrowers and their changing needs will notch more market share.

Technology limits

If you think the need for good, old-fashioned relationships has been displaced by technology, think again. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us closer to the end-to-end digital mortgage. In reality, it’s still far from perfect. Mortgage lending remains complex and clunky. Even with improvements in back-end automation, transactions are more complicated, not to mention less profitable, than they should be. Borrowers still need and rely on hand-holding to reduce stress and keep their loans moving forward.

The same relationship strategy that applies to borrowers also applies to referral partners such as Realtors. The fact is, loan officers don’t “own” their clients as much as they think. Realtors often have more contact with borrowers and wield more influence over their choice of mortgage, title and settlement providers — especially if the Realtor partners with a captive title company. Mortgage companies that recognize the dependency their business has on Realtor and real estate agent relationships put as much effort into building them as possible.

Embedding your customer relationship management (CRM) platform into your loan origination system can tighten and add value to your referral partner relationships. Automatically triggered emails to Realtors about every change in loan status (in process, appraisal complete, loan closed, etc.) keeps them in the loop and makes it easy to update borrowers and answer their questions. 

Post-transaction, keep clients and referral partners loyal to you and each other by inputting birthdays into your CRM system so that it automatically alerts you to send cards and reminds the appropriate referral partner to do the same. This is a concrete way to show Realtors, attorneys and other referral sources how much you appreciate them for helping you. 

You also can help Realtors build their reputation for great homebuyer experiences by sharing tips and information on what buyers can do to streamline their own loan approval process. This can be done via workshops or one-on-one tutorials.

Education and empathy

The majority of mortgage borrowers want personalized contact. Millennials, who comprise the largest consumer demographic in the U.S., seek it the most. One survey found that more than half of millennial respondents want access to personalized services and experiences that large companies typically cannot provide.

This is good news for lenders eager to position themselves as lifelong mortgage partners to younger clients. As they prepare to leap into homeownership, these consumers don’t want chatbots. They want education, empathy and dedicated service from a trained and trusted expert who can remove the mystery and angst from the experience.

Every action that a lender or broker takes to meet these client needs helps cement a strong relationship. These can include quickly responding to texts and phone calls, answering questions with reassurance and patience, visiting the home that’s under contract and attending the closing (a must for making a lasting impression). Any high-value relationship takes work and this is no different in the mortgage industry. On the other hand, it helps to remember that it’s not uncommon for borrowers to forget the names of their mortgage bank and their individual originator within a year after closing. This means they’ll start from scratch the next time they need financing. Don’t let this happen. 

Originators should reach out to past clients about 24 times per year or twice a month. Start with a handwritten note to thank them for their business and wish them happiness. Next, make a phone call to ask for feedback. Ensure that everything about the loan process met their expectations and, if not, learn from any suggested improvements.

Tap into technology to schedule future contacts. Email information on timely issues and trends, offer property valuations on a quarterly basis, and anticipate clients’ longer-term needs. If they have a growing family, are they ready to put on an addition or perhaps move to a bigger home? If they purchased an older home, is the kitchen ready for renovation? Offer help before it’s requested, just as you would do for a close friend or family member.

The same steps apply to borrowers nearing retirement. For instance, these clients might benefit from a reverse mortgage so that they can continue to live the life they want. Or perhaps a reverse mortgage for purchase is an ideal way to sell their current home and buy a new one closer to their grandchildren.

Leading banks and other financial institutions understand that in order to attract borrowers, you literally have to meet them where they live.

Serve the community

Leading banks and other financial institutions understand that to attract borrowers, you literally have to meet them where they live. Going one step further by demonstrating a sense of responsibility to every town or city where they offer the convenience of a branch or ATM will open the door for even more relationships with clients. 

Let’s say an institution wants to play a critical role in a community’s economic development. It can add private student lending to its services roster. Its leaders could then join the chamber of commerce or the board of a community college, or partner with other businesses to create a financial pathway for building a well-educated, local workforce. These kinds of initiatives create goodwill and serve everyone’s business and life interests. People will remember these investments in their futures when it comes time to purchase or refinance a home.

There are other ways to support the local community that directly impact business growth. Organize co-branded community workshops with Realtors or local title companies (either virtual or in person) on topics such as how to prepare your house for a quick sale or title insurance. Have PDFs or physical handouts ready that feature contact information for the sponsoring organizations. 

Join business-networking organizations that offer a chance to meet new referral partners. In addition to doing standard advertising, create weekly content that offers insights on origination and underwriting requirements. Collaborate with your fellow real estate professionals to bring in new colleagues who can refer even more potential borrowers.

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Mortgage banking, at its heart, is a people business. Originators who reach out frequently to past clients and referral partners to offer education, support and guidance will forge a bright and more satisfying future for everyone — including themselves. ●


  • Bruno Pasceri

    Bruno Pasceri is president of Incenter, which ideates and deploys innovative solutions for optimizing business performance in the mortgage and specialty-finance industries. The company is based in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, and employs more than 1,600 professionals across its sub-brands. For more information, visit

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