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The Long Game

The Key to Success in the Long Game of Mortgage
Look. There is no glossing over the fact: we’re in a hard market. Sure, our palms still sting from all the high-fiving in 2020 and 2021, and even a tiny bit in 2022. But this market? First, we watched some decent mortgage professionals go, and we felt a little concerned. Then we watched what we thought would be a painful round of cuts, and it was uncomfortable. But on the inside, we knew it was healthy for our employers to get lean. However, in the last month, we've been seeing it become real. Employees with decades of service are being let go, and it's hard to keep morale up. This sting is a grim reminder of how easily fortunes change.
If you are in this industry for real, you are scouring every opportunity to roust out the loans. You are calling people you haven't talked to in years, and you are brushing off the skills required to build career-changing relationships. Not only with your direct referral sources but with anyone who is in contact with those sources. It is a numbers game, and as you age in this career, you find how the certainty of a relationship often gives way to other factors, like kids, parents, and illness. So, you need to cultivate new relationships even when you don't need them.
The cornerstone of our referral business is realtors. Realtors aren't so hard to figure out. They don't like surprises. They want the process to go smoothly for both them and their borrower. So, understand they are not only giving you the referral; they are giving it to your entire team. Throwing your team under the bus is throwing yourself right under there with them. Pros cultivate the air of a duck on the water: serene on the outside and furiously working to accomplish their goals on the bottom. You are paid to handle the problems. Oversee them with professionalism, empathy, grace, and dignity. You need everyone on your team to be excellent and while brute force is a strategy, it is often categorically bad for long playing your business. Winners stay and prosper. Prisoners are always plotting their escape.
Realtors simply want you to communicate exceptionally well in the way they want to receive information, which may be unique to each one. They want to be appreciated and acknowledged for their critical role in the transaction with respect and, again, empathy. Realtors are also drawn to information, statistics, and infographics that offer them additional arrows for their sales quiver, making you professionally valuable to them. By giving them useful tools and resources, keeping up with changes in the industry, and letting them know you appreciate their work, you'll become a trusted resource and stay at the top of their minds when referral opportunities come up.
But realtors are not your only source of referrals. I built a highly successful career providing home improvement companies with options to finance more than the $25K unsecured limit of the day. Think outside the box for those opportunities. Don't limit yourself to only high-priced products. HELOCs and second mortgages are not about origination fees; they are about lead capture if you are playing the long game.
Let's look at three referral sources that aren't used as much as they could be in today's market:
  • Financial planners know a lot about their clients' finances, so they are in a good position to suggest mortgage services when they are needed. Becoming acquainted with local financial planners, offering your help, and going to networking events, you can build relationships with these professionals which can be very helpful.
  • Divorce lawyers are another possible source of referrals since getting a divorce often means selling or refinancing property. You can become the go-to mortgage expert for local law firms if you build relationships with them and show them how experienced you are in handling complicated mortgage situations that come up during divorces.
  • Home builders offer a consistent supply of new construction loans. By attending industry events, offering competitive mortgage products, and demonstrating your understanding of new construction clients' unique needs, you can establish strong relationships with local builders. Builders are especially tough, but you only need one.
Cultivating the skill of relationship building is crucial for success in the referral game. To strengthen this skill, consider building the following strategies through reading or working with a really good coach.
Active listening plays a vital role in engaging potential referral partners. By genuinely listening to their concerns and needs, you can tailor your approach and services to suit their clients’ needs. Authenticity, too, is indispensable; people are more likely to refer business to someone they trust and like. Avoid coming across as pushy or sales-driven, and instead, focus on building genuine connections.
Consistent follow-up is key to maintaining relationships with referral partners. Periodically check in to see how their clients are doing and help if needed. Collaborating on joint events or educational seminars can provide value to potential clients and solidify your relationships, showcasing your expertise and demonstrating your commitment to working together.
Lastly, investing in training for your team will give them the tools they need to build and keep strong referral relationships. Encourage them to attend programs focused on networking, communication skills, and building trust.
In conclusion, if you want to adapt to the current market, you need to be willing to try new things and build relationships with a wide range of referral partners. It takes strategy and execution. Focusing on building relationships with real estate agents, financial planners, divorce lawyers, and home builders will give you the tools you need to do well when things go wrong. Remember that the key to success is making real connections and taking care of those connections over time. When you do, you’re playing the long game.
Written by Ruth Lee
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