We're Professionals, Not Easy Buttons
I lost a deal recently (or may have, stay tuned) when a repeat customer called me on a Friday afternoon to check to get a preapproval for a home he was going to see the following day. I could do it. But I didn't. Instead, I advised him to call another lender to help.
Last month, the same borrower called me on a Friday, explaining he needed a preapproval letter for a home his in-laws were looking at the following Saturday. I helped, but let him know:
"I need you to give me some notice when you know someone's going to be looking at homes. I tremendously appreciate you keeping my in mind and for the continued support of our business, but we need time to work with our borrowers, go over options, take an application, and ensure they are truly preapproved. We can't always do this instantly."
Setting boundaries in business is something we often avoid out of fear - the fear that someone else will not set boundaries, and thus get business at your expense. My response? Let them. Top producers around the country understand the need for work-life balance. It helps them avoid burnout, and they remain top producers, though sure, they occasionally "lose" business. But let me pose the question "do you want to work with a customer that will leave you the moment you're not available 'on demand'?".
My answer is no. Because that's the type of client that will ditch me after locking into a rate because the market drops rates by .125. As an agent, that's the type of client that will leave you for another agent because you try to plan a weekend away for your anniversary, or because you're unavailable during a family emergency. In short, they don't value you, or your profession. They want an easy button, not a professional. As the world's collective attention span shrinks, we see more people behave this way, however, it's often a lack of understanding more than a sense of urgency.
In the lending world, you know you're going to refinance, or know you're considering buying a house at LEAST days before actually going to see a home. And the reality is, with a full preapproval, you increase your odds as a buyer of getting an offer accepted when you do find the right home - you don't lose out, and I don't lose time - it ends up being a true win-win.
The time to contact a real estate agent to enure success is as soon as you think you may be buying or selling real estate in the future. The time to contact a lender is as soon as you realize you may at some point need a loan. Not the day before. Not with hours notice. The best in the business won't respond, or (best case) they'll delegate you to someone else. Sometimes, maybe you'll get lucky, but the best of the best are true professionals with systems created for their business. They simply don't have the time to stare at the phone, fingers crossed, hoping you'll call and need a last minute preapproval on a Friday night - they're busy working with customers that reached out in advance, working out a plan to ensure success.
Realtors, lenders, and anyone in a sales & service capacity needs to have boundaries. Boundaries avoid burnout, allow work-life balance, and create an environment of better service, and the scaled growth that a professional wants in their life. Best of all, it creates an environment where your customers are respectful, and appreciative VS having a book of business that's demanding and unrealistic. For best results, be a professional, not an easy button!
Oh, and that deal I "lost" to another lender that jumped last minute to do a pre-approval on a Friday night for a Saturday showing? The deal fell apart, and the customer came back to our team to help with their next transaction. I got the deal, and my freedom on a Friday night. Not a bad deal!