What Makes a Loan Officer a Success?

Mortgage and Lending with Waterstone Mortgage Corporation

I am being interviewed for a podcast that will be on iTunes this coming week and the subject is "What Makes a Loan Officer a Success".  Having pondered this, I have concluded that two traits are needed: knowledge and involvement.

While trying not to appear demeaning, all of us can market, learn to market, or hire someone to do our marketing for us.  However, unless and until we know what it is that we are marketing, even the best marketer will be scrambling to make their car payment or keep their cell phone on!

In these days of ever-changing guidelines, it is imperative that we, as loan officers, learn those guidelines, relearn those guidelines, study them and commit as much of them as possible to memory and then keep up on the changes as they happen.  Several months ago, I took a Friday, Saturday and Sunday and spent them holed up in a hotel room going over and over my investor's guidelines and the mortgage insurance guidelines (I'm in Florida, which is a market that has different rules than other states in many cases.)  Doing this, while somewhat boring at first, showed me so much more that we CAN do as opposed to what we can't do.  My object wasn't to find out anything other than what limitations the different investors we work with and the MI companies were placing on us but I found ways to get loans done that I didn't realize even existed!  It's amazing how many people will say that they are "loan officers" or "mortgage consultants, advisors, or experts" only to find out that they really don't know how to get a loan closed from beginning to end.  They may not know all of the correct documents that are needed for the underwriter and have to keep going to the client and asking for more, which is extremely unprofessional and frustrating to the client, they may not know the maximum loan to value or debt to income ratio or minimum credit score needed, and they may just throw answers out to appear knowledgeable that, in the end, makes them look as unknowledgeable as they really are.  It is better to respond to a question with either (a) the right answer that you know because you study your guidelines continuously or (b) an "I am not 100% sure but I will check on it and get right back to you" than it is to every try to appear that you "know your stuff" and throw out an incorrect answer!

The second trait needed is INVOLVEMENT.  All the knowledge in the world won't help unless and until you have someone to share it with.  As a loan officer, the best place to start spreading that knowledge is with Realtors®.  I have found that being involved in my local association through committees and sponsorships, being an active member of the local chapter of Women's Council of Realtors, and being involved in community and/or charitable organizations allows me to share my knowledge when questions are asked that tell the other party that I know what I am talking about.  If a Realtor® asks me a question and I just give an answer to "appear" knowledgeable and then it turns out that my answer is wrong, I wouldn't expect to do business with that Realtor® again, and rightfully so.  Even worse, they will probably tell other Realtors® and then your reputation will be sullied going forward.  When you are at functions for your Board or other organization functions, DO NOT MAKE IT ALL ABOUT YOU OR YOUR COMPANY!  Being involved means doing the task that is required of that committee or group and it isn't about self-promotion!  It is through these efforts, however, that you establish relationships and some of the other people in these groups may ask you questions and if you give the right answers, they may then refer you business.  Nobody "owes" any of us their business; it is up to us to "earn" it.

My creed is and always has been: "If I help you to grow your business, it will then, in turn, help me to grow mine".  The key to doing this is patience and making sure that in any and all answers in conversations you have with the Realtor, borrower, title company, etc. is one that you don't just make up to look like you're smart.   In my head, the "smart" person I picture is Einstein........if you prove you're no Einstein, you will also find you're no Trump or Gates, either!



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Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Sue:  Obviously, having great product and underwriting knowledge, and having involvement are both quite important... but I know many loan officers who have both of those qualities... but do NOT return calls in a prompt manner.  I think that service, which obviously must include the prompt return of phone calls, is definitely as important as the two qualities you mention, if now MORE important.  Just my two cents.

Jul 10, 2009 05:19 PM #1
Darin Osenberg
Funky Quail Vintage - Nashville, TN

Hello Sue,

Karen Anne above is right.  However, I would take it one step further...and say that I think that EXPECTATIONS need to be laid out, right at the beginning of a transaction, or relationship. Doing a better job of laying out expectations is even MORE important! For example, what is " a prompt manner" in today's market??  Is that 15 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, or by the next day?? We have a local bank that changed their voicemail to say, " I will call you back within 72 hours".  Is that prompt??

While commenting on a blog is NOT (in my humble opinion) about contradicting the author, it is also NOT about agreeing with everything they say either. 

Everyone has their own methodology concerning selling....What is the difference between being a USDA RURAL HOUSING PRO, and an expert?  just for example....I actually happen to KNOW an expert at USDA loans and he is in Florida.  Even HE would say he is not an expert OR a pro.  but he is...What does it take to become a Mortgage Pro at anything?  In Wisconsin, the RD office here knows me by first name...does that make me an expert or a pro?? I dont think so... 

Too often we as Lenders have been bullied and hammered, threatened and maligned by Realtors.  Those days are gone now, thank goodness!  Now, with fewer of us, and fewer programs, they can beat us up all they want, but it is not going to get them anywhere as pretty soon they will have nowhere to turn for their borrowers!  Relationship building and EDUCATION in my opinion are the key!  They are ESSENTIAL components to being a good Loan officer! 

While I firmly believe that REALTORS are a HUGE part of our business, as well as the economy as a whole, they are not the only part! 

You are correct, INVOLVEMENT is SOO important!  That was an exceptional part of your blog!

Thanks alot , and keep blogging!    Bucky

Jul 10, 2009 05:42 PM #2
Lupe Soto-Realtor
CurbRealty - Los Angeles, CA
Listing, Selling Burbank Palmdale & more

Hi, Sue. my comments are:  knowledge, meeting deadlines and delivery of what it was promised. best wishes. Lupe

Jul 10, 2009 06:42 PM #3
Harry F. D'Elia III
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

Congratulations on being interviewed. That is a great accomplishment. Keep up the great work.

Jul 10, 2009 11:06 PM #4
Eric Villaverde
DoubleTree Home Inspection Services L.L.C. - Phoenix, AZ

Thanks for sharing your post this morning. Very informative

Jul 10, 2009 11:41 PM #5
Sue Botelho
Waterstone Mortgage Corporation - Fort Walton Beach, FL
USDA Rural Housing Mortgage Pro

I appreciate your comments and can not fathom why someone who spends the time and energy to be involved and to learn their business would then not return calls or meet the expectations that they give to their clients.  I guess that because it is second nature to me it is difficult the imagine not providing the service that would be needed in order to keep your clients happy.  I return all phone messages the same day, and have been known to contact people at 9 pm at night just so that they KNOW their concerns are important to me.  I used to think that people would be upset by calling late at night but they know that it is, in my mind, my DUTY to return phone calls the same day as they leave the message.  It is amazing as to how many people are glad to hear from me late at night!  I had an L/O who was very close to closing a deal and the boyfriend of the borrower was calling to complain and she said, 'I'm just not going to call him".  I was FLOORED!  As the branch manager, I called him back to address his concerns but just the response the L/O gave me let me know that his concerns were, obviously, valid!  You are all right - service is as equally important as knowledge and involvement and I didn't address it here because I assumed that it was a given.  I apologize for that and I appreciate your pointing it out to me.  I will definitely make the podcast about the THREE things that are necessary for a loan officer's success!  Thanks for your input!

Jul 11, 2009 04:03 AM #6
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Sue Botelho

USDA Rural Housing Mortgage Pro
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