When the going gets tough, communicate MORE

Mortgage and Lending with Mortgages in AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IN, MD, MN, MT, NC, NJ, NV, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI NMLS #138061 MMCD #1141

"We haven't heard anything from her since Monday"

"Is there a problem?"

"We're not sure what's going on"


These are some common phrases I hear when a loan goes off the rails.  Especially amongst newer loan officers with little experience, but even amongst more experienced loan officers, a loan going sideways and knowing someone's refinance is in jeopardy, or worse, their new home purchase dreams may be falling to pieces.

Buying a home and even refinancing are emotional processes and go far beyond a simple "transaction".  While one of our basic needs, shelter, isn't usually at stake in a refinance, few things make people more emotional than their finances.  When you add shelter AND finances together, it's no wonder home buying can be a daunting process for many people - it's emotionally exhausting.  More so when you haven't properly prepared.  And even MORE SO when working with an inexperienced team.

What often gets lost amongst the various parties during a home purchase or refinance is that it can be emotionally exhausting for loan professionals, too.  While your home purchase or refinance may be daunting, your loan pro may have 3, 5, 10, or more transactions taking place at the same time, with consistent demands for updates, changes, evening calls, weekend "emergencies", and more on each of those transactions.  It can be overwhelming.  And what do some people do when they're overwhelmed?  They shut down.  Nothing can overwhelm a loan pro more than knowing they either screwed something up or missed something that could have been caught early that cold not derail a transaction.  Sometimes, they don't know what to do, so in panic, they do nothing.  They don't proactively call.  They don't take calls.  They don't respond to texts, emails, voicemails.  If you're involved in the transaction, you know SOMETHING is wrong, but you don't know what, because you've been left in the dark.  Whether you're a Realtor, title agent, home buyer, or are just in the process of refinancing, this creates a chain of uncertainty, which 100% of the time ends up in a combination of fear & frustration.

I've explained WHY it happens.  Now let me state, that it should never happen.  As mortgage professionals, we can make a decent living, and the incomes we earn aren't based on being able to quote a rate from a rate sheet.  As a Realtor, you can earn a decent living, and the income you earn isn't based on your prowess when it comes to opening lock boxes (although, some of the lock boxes I've seen do take an engineering degree to access!).  We get paid for being professionals, and because our clientele rely on us to act accordingly.

When things are going wrong, it's time to communicate MORE.  It's important to not mistake that for sounding the alarms and setting fires that don't need to be set.  But if there's uncertainty, communicate that along with a plan of action to address the uncertainty and (this part is important) an ETA on when an update will be available.  Then follow through on that ETA.  If it's more than uncertainty and you know there's a true problem that could derail a transaction, it needs to be brought to light immediately.  Sure, take a couple minutes to process, breathe, take a walk, whatever you need to do.  Then get to work.  When you bring up a problem early, it's possible all minds will work together to solve it.  It happens!  I've seen sellers bend over backward to help a buyer get through the finish line of purchasing their home.  I've seen Realtors work together, putting in immense amounts of time and even sacrificing personal gain for the betterment of their client's transaction.  I've bailed out people from bad situations and got them through the finish line when they thought the race was over and they'd lost.  But wait until the last minute, and that magic doesn't have time to happen.

Some agents and other referral partners live in fancy, shiny, pristine glass houses.  And they like to throw stones.  They expect perfection.  Years of positive transactions, tons of happy customers, and one mistake paints you with a scarlett "N", as in, "I'll NEVER work with that person again!".  Those people are jerks.  You don't need em'.  Nor does the industry.  But MOST people don't expect perfection.  They expect honesty.  They expect communication.  And they expect to be looped into what's going on, so they're not in the dark.  And that is not unreasonable.  It's an expectation that any and all of us in the real estate industry need to deliver on. 

When a loan, or home buying process in general, is going well, we consistently communicate.  Every Monday, borrowers and their agents know where their file is and get an update.  When there's a milestone such as the appraisal coming in, underwriting approving a file, or knowing when funds are wired, there's communication - it's consistent, and it's scheduled.  When things go sideways, though, we need to communicate MORE.  The process, in my opinion should go:

- Learn there's a problem or potential problem

- See if it's something you can fix without much trouble and quickly

- If it's fixable, fix it.  No need to add unnecessary stress to others and loop people in to what you can fix yourself. (Too many people have a hero complex, and want to point out every minute challenge along the way, so they can be the "hero" that solved it - that adds unnecessary stress to everyone.)

- If you can't fix it, the time is NOW to loop in the parties to the transaction and get to work on coming up with a solution, or giving people as much notice as humanly possible so they can implement any contingencies they need to

- Then keep the line of communication open for questions, troubleshooting, and to let people know you care and you're there.  You may not have any rabbits to pull out of your hat, but you're on the Titanic with them and you're going to make room for them on your floating door.

In mortgage and real estate, communication is vital, and it should always be consistent.  When (not if...if you're in real estate or mortgage long enough and do enough business, things WILL go wrong somewhere along the way!) things go sideways, communicate more!


Posted by

John Meussner
NMLS ID #138061

It's more than a house - it's home.  So we offer a wide range of mortgage products at competitive prices to help our clients achieve financial security at home.  While we get great feedback on our prices and products, many clients say their favorite part of working with John Meussner & MasonMac is the level of service provided along the way.

Purchase money loans, Refinance, Renovation, Jumbo, FHA, VA, USDA, nonQM, HELOCs, and more

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Comments (16)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello John - stuff happens.  Mishaps and mistakes too.  

May 24, 2022 04:57 PM
John Meussner

They sure do!  We should expect it, and be able to pass along those expectations.

May 25, 2022 08:52 AM
Kris Collis, Associate Broker
Smart Way America Realty - East Stroudsburg, PA
Professional Results you Expect 570-801-5525

John, thanks for the real life assessment of your world of mortgage lending and how it applies to all of us involved.

May 24, 2022 05:05 PM
John Meussner

Thanks for stopping by Kris!

May 25, 2022 08:53 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Communication and honesty can make any situation a million times better. Pick up the phone. Talk.

May 24, 2022 06:14 PM
John Meussner

Yep!  Simply talking and being available goes a long way!

May 25, 2022 08:54 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

When there is a little lull on the flow, it is necessary to light a fire to keep everything moving smoothly

May 24, 2022 06:33 PM
John Meussner

Indeed, that fire should never have to be lit!

May 25, 2022 08:55 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi John:

This is an excellent discussion of a key issue in our business - communication, or lack thereof.

Sure, problems arise at the buyer or seller end of the transaction, and with lenders, but lack of communication does not make the problem go away, and if anything if creates more concern and anxiety. for the parties involved.

I suspect poor communication is one of the biggest complaints consumers have with real estate agents and lenders. Some do a great job, no matter what the circumstances, and others are terrible. What's most annoying is a request or two (text, email, phone) for an update and all you get are those darn crickets. Shouldn't happen.


May 24, 2022 08:07 PM
John Meussner

Hi Jeff -- as for your suspicions - I monitor the reviews for our entire company that come in from customers.  The #1 word used in the best reviews, and the worst, is communication - no surprise there!

May 25, 2022 08:57 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

What a great post.    Have any of us ever heard a client say, "stop communicating so much!"?     Usually, too little communication is the heart of the problem.

May 25, 2022 12:15 AM
John Meussner

Haha yep!  Consistent communication keeps people calm and happy!

May 25, 2022 08:58 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning John,

So much truth to your post. Communication is everything...its always at the root of an issue...people need to feel they are valued and important.

May 25, 2022 06:33 AM
John Meussner

Absolutely, no one wants to be in the dark!

May 25, 2022 08:58 AM
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage~ Ginger Harper Real Estate Team - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County!

When the going gets tough, the tough get going....

Yes.  We have to.

May 25, 2022 07:30 AM
John Meussner


May 25, 2022 08:58 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Communication is the key John. Seasoned professionals like to work with other seasoned professionals that understand that communication is of utmost importance to each and every transaction.  Our clients trust us to recommend those who will best serve their needs in a timely and professional manner.

May 25, 2022 11:33 AM
John Meussner

Yes indeed!  

May 25, 2022 04:52 PM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
Relocation to NW AZ with elbow room & more freedom

Communicate often is essential and even if there is no response send an email with a confirmation you called, left a voice mail and looking forward to a returned response.  The additional benefit to communicate often is you are also covering your own behind. Great post and deserves the featured status.

May 26, 2022 08:08 AM
John Meussner

Thanks Leanne!  Yep, we've scripted out most of our communication so our behinds are always covered - if everyone is doing their job, everyone is always in the loop and knows whats going on.  Makes for happy buyers and happy sellers!

May 26, 2022 09:55 AM
Wendy Rich-Soto, Realtor/Broker Associate
Keller Williams Realty, LA Harbor - San Pedro, CA
Getting you to your next with a zero failure rate!

Buyer's, especially first time home buyers always have anxiety.  Without communication, that anxiety grows when they are uncertain.  Uncertainty happens when there is a lack of communication.  No bueno! 

May 26, 2022 01:59 PM
John Meussner

Exactly Wendy Rich-Soto, Realtor/Broker Associate - we set an expectation from the start that updates will come on Monday and at loan milestones.  When they don't hear from us Tues-Fri, they expect it, and everyone remains calm!

May 26, 2022 03:54 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

There’s nothing more than needs to be said other than the words that allow you to communicate what you need tocommunicate

May 26, 2022 10:43 PM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi John,
What I found in business is people get way less upset over bad news if they are communicated with throughout the process. When I delivered bad news I liked to tell them what I was doing to try to work it out. That gave them hope and if it couldn't be worked out they knew I tried.

May 27, 2022 09:46 AM
John Meussner

That's been my experience as well.  Not everything goes perfectly, but there's a good and bad way to handle the negatives!

May 31, 2022 10:04 AM
Gary J. Muccio, Associate Broker
Keller Williams of Central PA - Camp Hill, PA
Exceptional Customer Service!

Good morning, John!

Thanks for your post on communication. So important in our industry. Not only on the mortgage side, but the RE transaction side as well. I so agree with Carol Williams' and Kat Palmiotti's posts above on the importance of communication. It truly is the key to a successful transaction. Continued success to you, and Happy Memorial Day! 

May 29, 2022 07:39 AM
John Meussner

Thank you Gary, and same to you!

May 31, 2022 10:04 AM
Miriam Odegard
United Real Estate Indianapolis - Indianapolis, IN
Real Estate Broker Serving Greater Indianapolis

Such a timely and wonderful post!! Thank you so much for the reminder to communicate MORE. I think I will print your article, John, and put up on the wall in my office.

May 31, 2022 04:00 AM
John Meussner

Thanks Miriam, appreciate it : )

May 31, 2022 10:05 AM
Joe Jackson
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Columbus, OH
Clintonville and Central Ohio Real Estate Expert

This is an excellent post with great information. Thanks for sharing it.

Have a super fantastic week!
Joe Jackson, Realtor-KWCP

Jun 27, 2022 09:04 AM